The UK cannot give a timeframe for the extradition of fugitive businessman Vijay Mallya though the British government and courts are clear on their roles in preventing people from avoiding justice by moving across national borders, UK high commissioner Philip Barton said on Thursday. Barton declined to answer a question during a virtual news briefing on whether Mallya had sought asylum in the UK, saying the British government never comments on individual asylum cases.
“The UK government and the courts, [which] are independent of the government, are absolutely clear about their roles in preventing people avoiding justice by moving to another country. We are all determined to play our part in any case, and to make sure that we’re working together to ensure that criminals can’t escape justice by crossing national borders,” he said.
Mallya’s extradition was ordered in February but “there is an ongoing legal case and I can’t comment any further on that and I can’t say anything at all about timescales”, Barton said. “The UK government understands the importance of the case,” he added. Last month, India said it had asked the UK not to consider any asylum request from Mallya, currently on bail pending his extradition, as there are no grounds for his persecution in the country. India has also said it has sought the early extradition of Mallya from the UK.
The UK has so far only said a “confidential” legal issue was holding up Mallya’s extradition but that it was trying to deal with the matter as quickly as possible. Britain’s stance gave rise to speculation the 64-year-old businessman, wanted in India to face charges of financial irregularities, could have applied for asylum. Mallya lost his appeal in the UK high court in April against the 2018 order to extradite him. Last month, the high court also refused Mallya permission to appeal in the UK Supreme Court.