A United Kingdom court has asked the Indian government to provide a video of barrack No. 12 at Mumbai’s Arthur Road jail to confirm the flow of natural light into the cell, where fugitive businessman Vijay Mallya is to be held if he is extradited from London. The court order came after Mallya’s defense team raised its objections to poor conditions in Indian jails, including lack of natural light.
Mallya, the owner of the now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines, is wanted in India over allegations of fraud, and is fighting extradition to India in the Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London.
Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot gave three weeks to the Indian government to provide a “step-by-step video” of the concerned barrack, so she can see “how the windows are,” the Indian Express reported. The next hearing will take place on Sept. 12.
The judge passed the order on July 31, saying, “I would like a video of Barrack 12, to see where the windows are… shot may be at mid-day with no artificial lighting.”
Mallya’s counsel Clare Montgomery QC questioned the credibility of the barrack’s photographs provided by the Indian government, the Times of India reported. “The government of India has asserted there is sufficient light to read in the cell and have provided photos they assert show natural light flooding into the cell. But we had them analyzed and our experts said it seemed difficult to work out where the light is coming from,” she said, according to the report.
“It is clear that whatever the light is, it is not natural light flooding into cell throughout the day. These photos demonstrate that government of India’s assurances cannot be relied upon,” she added.
The Indian government had also provided the court information about the toilet facilities, sanitation and hygiene conditions at the cell, and drinking water supply for prisoners. It gave an assurance to the court that Mallya will be provided a private western style toilet and wash facilities, the Business Standard reported. Five photos of western-style toilets were presented to the court, the report added.
If the judgment goes in the Indian government’s favor, the UK Home Secretary will have two months to sign Mallya’s extradition order. Both sides will have a chance to appeal in higher courts in the UK against the verdict.
Mallya has been mired in controversies over allegations that his Kingfisher Airlines defaulted on loans and interest in 2010, and owes Rs 9,000 crore to a consortium of 17 Indian banks. The Indian government is seeking his extradition after he fled to the United Kingdom in 2016.