Embattled businessman Vijay Mallya, who was held guilty of contempt, today failed to make a personal appearance before the Supreme Court despite being directed to do so. A bench comprising of Justices AK Goel and UU Lalit fixed the matter for hearing on July 14 and sought the assistance of the Solicitor General in the case. The apex court had on May 9 held Mallya, who is presently in the United Kingdom, guilty of contempt on a plea by the consortium of lender banks, led by the State Bank of India, for his failure to furnish details of all his Indian as well as offshore assets. It had directed Mallya to appear before it today to argue on the quantum of punishment. The offence of contempt of court entails a maximum imprisonment of up to six months or a fine of upto Rs 2,000 or both.
India had recently asked Britain to ensure early extradition of Mallya, who is an accused in a bank loan default case of over Rs 9,000 crore involving his defunct Kingfisher Airlines. The apex court’s order had come on a plea by the consortium of banks, led by the State Bank of India (SBI), which had said that Mallya had allegedly transferred $40 million received from British firm Diageo to his children in “flagrant violation” of various judicial orders.
The banks had argued before the court that Mallya had wilfully disobeyed the orders and made “vague” disclosure about his assets. The top court had on March 9 asked the liquor baron about the “truthfulness” of the disclosure of assets by him and the transfer of money to his children. The bench had reserved its order on two pleas of lending banks seeking contempt action and a direction to Mallya to deposit $40 million received from offshore firm Diageo respectively.
The banks have alleged that Mallya had concealed the facts and diverted the money to his son Siddharth Mallya and daughters Leanna Mallya and Tanya Mallya in “flagrant violation” of the orders passed by the Karnataka High Court. In October last year, the court had rapped Mallya for not making full disclosure of his overseas properties and had asked him to do so within a month.
The bench had also pulled up Mallya for not giving details of $40 million which he had allegedly received from Diageo in February last year, saying it was of the “prima facie view” that proper disclosure as per its earlier order was not made. The banks had on August 29 last year told the Supreme Court that Mallya had deliberately not made full disclosure of his assets including the $40 million he received on February 25 from Diageo.