Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba is scheduled to meet officials this week to prepare a response to the questions raised by Vijay Mallya’s lawyers regarding prison facilities in India. The questions were included in the reference sent by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).
Mallya’s lawyers had raised the issue during the extradition proceedings being held at a British court that is seeking to block India’s bid to bring back the liquor baron from the UK.
Mallya fled to the UK last year seeking to avoid the investigation and the court proceedings launched against him on charges related to the alleged bank loan default worth Rs 9,000 crore by his company.
India’s Response To Be Placed Before British Court
According to MHA sources, the Home Secretary is likely to chair a meeting to draft India’s formal response which will then be placed before the British court where the extradition proceedings are continuing.
The next hearing in the case is scheduled for November 20 in Westminster Magistrate’s Court in London, in which the future course of Mallya’s extradition trial proceedings, slated to begin December 4, will be finalised.
A senior MHA official noted that the government’s official stance will be that prison facilities in India were as good as in any other location in the world – the legal rights of a prisoner are protected, access to medical facilities is available and safety is assured by the authorities.
Question Just An Attempt To Delay Extradition Proceedings
The official called the argument by Mallya’s lawyers regarding Indian prison conditions an “obvious effort to delay his extradition”. Asserting that there was “nothing special about Mallya”, he noted that chief ministers and corporate honchos as well have been earlier lodged in different prisons.
The official however stated that it would be “a little premature” to discuss regarding the prison in which Mallya could be lodged if he was extradited to India. He insisted that the
decision would lie with the Indian court where Mallya would be tried.