Liquor baron Vijay Mallya, whom India has sought to be extradited for trial in a Rs 9,000-crore bank loan default case, on Tuesday appeared before a Westminster magistrate court and later told media outside that he was delighted that he would be able to put up his case before a fair and impartial court here.
Accompanied by his son Siddharth, the 61-year old industrialist who fled India 15 months ago rejected all allegations of default of loans against him and denied that he was called a thief inside the court.
This was the first hearing before a magistrate in what is called "management" proceedings before the actual trial begins. Mallya was asked to sit in the place where people facing trial are made to sit. His name was called out and his date of birth mentioned by way of confirming his identity.
Mallya, who owes as much as Rs 9,000 crore to a consortium of Indian banks, fled to Britain in March last year. India is seeking his extradition for which the procedure has already begun and a team of the Enforcement Directorate and the Central Bureau of Investigation is chalking out the process.
When he sought a barrier to keep away inquisitive television reporters from thrusting their mikes before him outside the court, the judge permitted that he may not be present at the next hearing on July 5.
During the proceedings, Mallya's lawyers told the magistrate that the Indian government was coming up with a second extradition request which he would like to go through before giving his submissions. They wanted that the case be deferred till next year. The magistrate, however, indicated that the case could be placed for regular trial in December.
When the magistrate enquired with the crown prosecution service about cooperation from India, he was told that there was good cooperation and coordination between the two sides.
Outside the court, the chairman of the now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines by and large remained composed while answering media questions except when reporters tried to provoke him a couple of times.
"I am not going to answer any questions. There is a court of law. We will make submissions before the appropriate court of law," he told reporters.
"You can keep dreaming about billions of pounds, provided you have facts to justify your questions. Otherwise, don't put questions. So don't ask irrelevant questions," he said.
When a British reporter asked him about the multiple flats he has in the UK, he shot back, "Multiple homes in UK, I have been living here since 1992."
Mallya said that he was here to defend himself as was expected.
"Were you in the court? Did you hear what the prosecution said, what my lawyers said and what the judge said?" he asked, refusing to go into what happened inside the court.
But when a reporter asked him about his being called a thief inside the court, Mallya said: "I was not called a thief. As two people in a drunken state yelled at me, didn't you notice that there were several others who wished me well."
Asked if he was relieved at being told by the court not to come for next hearing on July 5, he said: "I do not want to say anything about what happened inside the court."
"I am delighted that I can put forward my case before an impartial court," he said.
Earlier before going into the court, Mallya said he had not eluded any court of law and denied all alegations levelled against him.
When a questioner noted that he has been in Britain for the last 15 months and was eluding courts in India, he said: "I have not eluded any court. It is my lawful duty to be here and I am here (London court)."
"I have nothing to say as the court proceedings are on and I deny all allegations that have been made and I will continue to deny them," Mallya said before appearing in the court.
Asked what he expected would happen in the court, he said: "I have no expectations and you can hear what the court says."
Mallya also said he had "enough evidence" to fight the case, but parried a question whether he fears that a trial in India would be unfair to him.
Tragedy of actress Shikha Joshi who was molested and killed herself
Download the new mid-day android app to get updates on all the latest and trending stories on the go https://goo.gl/8Xlcvr