Will Vijay Mallya ever return to face charges in India? The political response to this question, especially from the ruling dispensation, is that “it is a matter of when and not if”. Ask the CBI and many of the agency’s officers will give you the same answer. Sceptics and those close to the absconding businessman hope that he may beat the charges and come out unscathed from what has turned into one of the biggest political issues of recent times.
The Vijay Mallya extradition hearings in the Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London await judgment on December 10—a year since the United Kingdom’s Crown Prosecution Service began arguments on behalf of the Indian government to deport the fugitive businessman, wanted for questioning by Indian agencies on charges of money-laundering, bank fraud and embezzlement and has around 27 cases pending in various courts. The flamboyant businessman is often portrayed as a symbol of bad business practices. TV debates and public opinion are stacked against him; his greatest sin of all was to run away to the UK, from where he sent his resignation as a Rajya Sabha member.
Those following the trial in the UK closely feel that the verdict will be in favour of the Indian government, perhaps with a few conditions. A person who has kept tabs on the hearings and has knowledge of UK’s laws and processes, says that the execution of a deportation order is not likely before next September, which is a year from now and after the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The person said that based on the outcome and the harshness of the verdict, the government may offer a deal to Mallya once the ‘if-then-else’ quandary has passed. As for now, both sides await the verdict.