The Supreme Court today told the government that it would proceed against beleaguered businessman Vijay Mallya, who has been held guilty of contempt, only when he is produced before it. A bench comprising Justices A K Goel and U U Lalit considered the submissions of Attorney General K K Venugopal that proceedings to extradite Mallya were going on in London and the Centre was taking steps to secure his presence before the apex court. When Venugopal referred to the status report filed by the government, the bench observed, “we cannot analyse it in his (Mallya) absence. You have to produce him before us. When you will produce him here, we will then proceed”. “As and when you will produce him before us, we will go ahead and will see what is to be done,” the bench told the Attorney General. “The contemnor has failed to appear. The Government of India has taken steps to secure his presence. The extradition proceedings are going on. Let all steps be taken. Matter be put up before us on his (Mallya) production before this court,” the bench noted in its order.
The apex court had on May 9 held Mallya, who is 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 and offshore assets. It had directed Mallya to appear before it on July 10 to argue on the quantum of punishment but he had failed to do so. 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, an accused in a bank loan default case of over Rs 9,000 crore involving his defunct Kingfisher Airlines. The top court’s order had come on a plea by the consortium of banks, which had said that Mallya had allegedly transferred USD 40 million received from British firm Diageo to his children in “flagrant violation” of various judicial orders.
The bench had reserved its order on two pleas of the lending banks seeking contempt action and a direction to Mallya to deposit USD 40 million received from offshore firm Diageo respectively. The banks have alleged that Mallya had concealed 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.
The bench had also pulled up Mallya for not giving details of the USD 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 apex court that Mallya had deliberately not made full disclosure of his assets including the USD 40 million he received on February 25 from Diageo.