Court reserves order on plea seeking non-bailable warrant against Vijay Mallya
Mumbai: A special court in Mumbai reserved its order till April 18 on a plea seeking non-bailable warrant against businessman Vijay Mallya after he refused to appear before Enforcement Directorate on Saturday.
ED, which is currently investigating Mallya on charges of money-laundering and loan fraud of Rs 900 crore it received from IDBI Bank, moved the PMLA court seeking a non-bailable warrant against him. The development followed soon after the Ministry of External Affairs suspended the diplomatic passport of the beleaguered industrialist on Friday.
“Three summons were issued to Mallya under section 15 of PMLA act in which first was issued on March 10, second on March 18 and the third one on April 2 this year,” ED's lawyer said at the hearing in the Mumbai court today.
The lawyer, in the course of the arguments said that Mallya was not to be trusted. “Mallya is a person who uses tactics of asking the court for granting time and then does not abide by his promises,” they told court.
“Vijay Mallya might use his money power to tamper with the evidences,” he added.
The ED had earlier requested the MEA to take action under the Passport Act, 1967 and ask the Regional Passport Office (RPO) to revoke Mallya’s diplomatic passport, leading to its suspension.
In its request to the MEA, ED said that Mallya had been "un-cooperative" with its investigators probing a criminal case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) at its zonal office in Mumbai.
Last week, the agency had issued fresh summons – the third so far – to Mallya asking him to appear before it on April 9. This was after the former Kingfisher director sought two extensions from the earlier dates of March 18 and April 2 citing certain official reasons.
“We gave him a chance to cooperate in the investigation, but Mallya chose to disregard the summons,” an ED official said earlier.
Mallya fled to London last month as pressure mounted on him to repay bank loans amounting to Rs 9000 crore.
The owner of Kingfisher Airlines and many other companies is currently in London, defying Enforcement Directorate (ED) summons.
Earlier, while questioning the business model of Mallya, Finance minister Arun Jaitley has said, "I am not giving a final opinion on it. It could be attributed to the business model of a particular company."
"As far as the recoveries are concerned, in this (Mallya) case, banks are taking all possible steps. And whether there have been violations of some penal provisions, the investigating agencies are looking at it," he said.
A non-bailable warrant has been issued against Mallya after he refused to return to India to appear before the ED on three different occasions on investigations related to a money laundering case against him.
Jaitley's remarks came on a day when the External Affairs Ministry suspended Mallya's diplomatic for four weeks and threatened to revoke it if he fails to respond within a week on why his passport should not be impounded.
"I do not think it (Mallya's case) had anything to do with the government because a lot of his cases were also locked up in courts. When he was in India, I understand from the banking sector that almost every recovery, every step, was challenged in court. So he used the legal process till the date of his departure and then he had to abandon that," the minister said.
A member of Parliament, under the existing law, could lose his membership if one becomes an "adjudged insolvent", for which the bankruptcy law is necessary, he said.
"Generally, if you are not paying, that is different from the legal language in the constitution. There has to be a system under which you are adjudicated and judged as a declared insolvent and that only happens if you have an insolvency law in place.
That's what the parliamentary committee is looking at not in his context but independent of that," he said, hoping that this case may help early passage of the law.
Responding to a question, Jaitley said the airlines sector in India is not suffering that much, unlike several other sectors like steel and power.
"If you look at other airline companies in India, most of them have turned around and are making (profits). Jet is now making profit. Indigo has made huge profits throughout. Spice Jet is making profits. Go Air is making profits," Jaitley said.
(With inputs from PTI)