London : Liquor baron Vijay Mallya, wanted in India to face charges of fraud and money laundering amounting to around INR 9,000 crore, can be regarded as a "fugitive from justice", the UK High Court has concluded. Judge Andrew Henshaw, who upheld a worldwide freeze order and ruled in favour of 13 Indian state-owned banks to recover funds amounting to nearly 1.145 billion pounds in a judgment on Tuesday, took note of the fact that the 62-year-old businessman is contesting his extradition to India relating to "alleged financial misconduct"
"In all these circumstances, and even taking account of the fact that Dr Mallya is contesting the alleged grounds for extradition, there are grounds for regarding Dr Mallya as a fugitive from justice," the judge said as part of his ruling. The High Court remained unconvinced by Mallya's claim that he has been a non-resident Indian (NRI) since 1988 and has lived in England since 1992, a country where he has indefinite leave to remain (ILR)
"The evidence indicates that prior to March 2016 Dr Mallya travelled fairly regularly between India and England for business and political reasons. Most of his business interests were in or closely connected with India, most notably United Breweries Group and Kingfisher Airlines?Whilst Dr Mallya has indefinite leave to stay in the UK, he is said to be a non-resident taxpayer," the court observed. The judge also concluded that the businessman had been in "clear breach" of a Karnataka court's order when he disposed of assets like a historic sword of Tipu Sultan acquired at an auction in 2003. PTI