Within hours of being arrested in the UK, Vijay Mallya is out on bail

Goodbye Mallya?
Goodbye Mallya?
Image: Reuters/Ahmad Masood
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Vijay Mallya, India’s most-famous defaulter, was arrested in London by Scotland Yard on April 18.

Mallya, once a high-flying billionaire who ran the now beleaguered Kingfisher Airlines, was produced before the Westminster Magistrates’ Court.

Update: Shortly after his arrest, Mallya was granted bail, Santosh Gangwar, the Indian minister of state for finance, said in a media statement. Mallya also tweeted that extradition hearings had begun.

The Narendra Modi government wants Mallya, who owes some Rs9,000 crore to a bunch of Indian banks, extradited. A former member of the upper house of India’s parliament, Mallya left India for the UK on March 02, 2016. Scotland Yard said he was ”declared a proclaimed offender,” and “arrested on extradition warrant,” the Press Trust of India reported.

For a while now, the Modi government has been urging British authorities to help it bring Mallya back to India. In February 2017, it reportedly requested the UK to hasten the extradition process of 16 Indian nationals, including Mallya. During his visit to Britain in the same month, Indian finance minister Arun Jaitley, in an indirect mention of Mallya, had referred to “certain individuals who have overstayed” in that country.

India and the UK have an extradition treaty, which was signed in 1993, but it hasn’t been utilised often. The only Indian to have been extradited from the UK is Samirbhai Vinubhai Patel, who was handed over to India in 2016 for his alleged role in the 2002 Gujarat riots.

Meanwhile, since he fled India, Mallya has launched a series of Twitter attacks on the media, the government, and the lenders, alleging that he was being unfairly targeted. Back home, a group of banks led by the State Bank of India, the country’s largest lender, has begun recovering its dues by auctioning Mallya’s properties, including his palatial villa in Goa. The beach-front property finally found a buyer last week after three failed auctions.

Mallya’s Kingfisher Airlines was at one time India’s second-biggest carrier by market share. It was shuttered in 2012 after years of mismanagement. Mallya and United Breweries Holdings, the alcohol business he then owned, had stood guarantee for the airline, which still owes salaries to its employees and money to banks.

Also read: Vijay Mallya, once India’s king of good times, is staring at rock bottom.