India

UK judge seeks video of Mumbai jail where India wants to lodge Mallya

The court extended fugitive business tycoon Mallya's bail term until September 12.

New Delhi: After Vijay Mallya complained of no natural light in Indian jails, a UK judge on Tuesday asked Indian authorities to send a video of a cell at the Arthur Road jail in Mumbai where they plan to keep the fraud-accused liquor tycoon.

The 62-year-old former Kingfisher Airlines boss, who has been on bail since his arrest in April 2017, is fighting extradition to India, citing mainly the poor condition of jails. His bail was extended until September 12, when the video will be shown in court.

Judge Emma Arbouthnot, hearing India’s case for Vijay Mallya’s extradition to face charges of money-laundering and fraud, said she could not go with the photographs of Barrack 12 that Indian officials have provided the court.

The judge asked officials to film any man going into the prison, through the door shown in the photographs. “Can we shoot it during mid-day? I want to see some natural light, sunlight, whether the windows pick up any natural light,” the judge said.

The Crown Prosecution Service, representing India, submitted to the court the May 8 judgement of the commercial bench of the high court, upholding a worldwide freezing order against Mallya and the registering of a ruling of India’s Debt Recovery Tribunal in the case brought by 13 Indian banks.

Mark Summers, representing India, informed the court that Mallya’s application for permission to appeal against the May 8 judgement had also been recently dismissed by the high court.

Outside the court, Mallya reiterated that he has been offering to settle loans with Indian banks since 2015, and mentioned his recent offer made before the Karnataka high court to settle them against his assets detailed in court papers.

Vijay Mallya’s defence team had argued that photographs submitted by India showed “no natural light in the cell and no fresh air”. Lawyer Clare Montgomery also alleged that the photos were taken using a technique to show light within the building. “How will the sun get through this huge wall,” she asked.

India told the court that the photos proved that jail conditions complied with the guidelines of the Human Rights Commission. Vijay Mallya would be put up in barracks with fresh air and light, a private western-style toilet facility and clean bedding, said Mark Summers, the lawyer representing the government.

Vijay Mallya’s case is being heard in the Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London.

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