Vijay Mallya's 'not so soon' extradition: What's in store for the government of 'many feats' in 2020 ?

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On the night of June 3, after wildfire speculations spread through media reports, on fugitive businessman Vijay Mallya’s extradition back to India, muffled flares of how this could be yet another grabbing opportunity for the Modi government to hench upon. According to IANS reports last night, Vijay Mallya may be extradited back to India anytime “soon” and that he may land in Mumbai accompanied by his long lost friends, the CBI and ED. 

Vijay Mallya, who is accused of fraudulence and money laundering, owes 9,000 crore rupees to 17 Indian banks, drawing loans which he allegedly routed to gain a full or partial stake in about 40 companies abroad. After fleeing India on March 2, 2016, to the UK, Vijay Mallya lost his appeal in the UK top court on May 14 against extradition to India. Mallya has to be extradited within 28 days of that date, the deadline for which expires on June 11, 2020, as per the Extradition Act.

According to the latest reports by Times Of India, the delay in the process could be due to the UK Home Secretary, Priti Patel’s office, which is yet to sign his extradition documents in order to send Vijay Mallya back to India. According to experts, since Vijay Mallya has exhausted all legal options available to avoid extradition, there are two options now left for him: he either gets asylum or approaches the European Human Rights Court. If he sought asylum after the court’s final order, then it will be rejected by the UK government, however it can delay his extradition further.

While an official confirmation on Vijay Mallya’s extradition is still awaited  from the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) or Government of India, it’s interesting to note how the timing of such extraditions of several fugitives in the past, fell right ahead of some big political turnarounds, allowing the political tunes in the country, to play along with the ‘well planned’ narratives. 

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In the past of extradition cases, one could track the timeline that was set to suit the electoral convenience for the ruling government. 

British fugitive Christian Michel James was extradited from UAE on December 4, 2018, making him the 20th fugitive to be brought from the UAE since 2002. It was noted that the Modi government and its acolytes, conveniently tried to divert the raging public attention from the infamous killing of police inspector Subodh Kumar Singh in Bulandshahar, Uttar Pradesh that took place on December 3, 2018. 

The timing of Michel’s extradition was also believed to be apt, which Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was rallying in Rajasthan on December 5, that year, could add bringing back Michel to India, as an achievement of the ruling government. At the time, it was clear from NDTV headline even calling the entire operation as “The Ajit Doval Project,” where the extradition was made to suit the timing in favour of the BJP, just prior the assembly elections in four key states. Post which, AgustaWestland chopper deal co-accused Rajiv Saxena was also extradited from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) at the end of January, 2019, alongwith corporate lobbyist Deepak Talwar.

After the ‘soon’ to be extradited ‘king of good times,’ who will be on the list of the government to gain timely brownie points. Will Vijay Mallya be followed by the Indian born fugitive jeweller Mehul Choksi? Or his nephew Nirav Modi, who allegedly swindled the state-owned Punjab National Bank of Rs 14,000 crore?  Or will it be a name from the Red Corner list by the Interpol like Purvi Modi, sister of Nirav Modi, whose bank accounts were frozen by Swiss authorities? All this, only to add to the many claimed ‘feats’ of the established political scenario and continue to use trump cards of the likes such as, Mallya, Michel, Modi and Choksi, against the opposition. 

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