NEW DELHI: A defiant Vijay Mallya, wanted in India on loan defaults to several banks amounting to nearly Rs 9,000-crore, appeared before a local court in London for his pre-trial hearing where the liquor baron’s extradition hearing was confirmed for eight days starting December 4. The 61-year-old businessman, out on bail on an extradition warrant executed by Scotland Yard earlier this year, was released by the Westminster Magistrates’ Court judge on the same bail conditions and asked to appear in the court on December 4. The extradition trial will last until December 14, with December 8 marked as a non-sitting day.
Speaking to reporters as he left today’s case management hearing, Mallya said, “it will all become clear in court”. His defence team, headed by barrister Clare Montgomery, updated Judge Arbuthnot that the defence argument skeleton had been submitted last week and now “the ball is in the Indian government’s court” to present their reply by next week. She also presented the judge with a “running order” of witnesses to be deposed in the case, adding that the Indian authorities are “content with that order”.
Based on the defence timetable, the judge should be ready to rule on the case by December 24. However, given the tight timeline for both sides to submit their closing arguments in writing, the judge suggested scheduling a half-day hearing in January after the oral closing submissions to conclude the trial in the new year instead. However, Mallya’s barrister was not in favour of that delay as that could lead to the Indian government presenting new material to the case and she said the defence was keen to “draw a line under all the material – evidential and non- evidential”.
The judge concurred, saying “things have a habit of popping up” and has left things open for the moment. Aaron Watkins, appearing for the UK’s Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) on behalf of the Indian government, said as he was stepping in for CPS barrister Mark Summers, he would have to confirm the exact timeline with him. Some of the witnesses on Mallya’s defence team’s list include Margaret Sweeney, chief accountant at Force India Formula One team, Prof Lau as an expert on the