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Vijay Mallya case: lenders demand arrest for contempt of court

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New Delhi | Published: September 9, 2016 6:26:51 AM

An SBI-led consortium of 17 banks has asked the Supreme Court to issue a 'warrant for arrest' for liquor baron Vijay Mallya or order attachment of his property under the contempt of court rules.

An SBI-led consortium of 17 banks has asked the Supreme Court to issue a ‘warrant for arrest’ for liquor baron Vijay Mallya or order attachment of his property under the contempt of court rules.

The lenders said that the contempt is accentuated by the filing of the recall application by the businessman, as the same is in utter disregard of Rules to Regulate Contempt proceedings, 1975.

Beleaguered liquor baron Mallya had last month asked the Supreme Court to recall its contempt notice issued to him in July, allegedly for failing to make full disclosure of his assets, both domestic and overseas, for a “meaningful settlement” with the SBI-led consortium of banks. In the alternative, he had sought exemption from personal appearance before the top court.

“The absence of the alleged contemnor on August 29 (date of last hearing) leaves no doubt that he (Mallya) has scant respect for the apex court” and also there is no reply filed to the contempt notice issued by the SC, the consortium said in its reply to the recall application. It also alleged that liquor baron’s application is a “mere ruse to circumvent the law applicable to the parties.”

Also, according to the lenders, the apex court should not consider the liquor barons’ application “unless he appears in person and gives his reply”. Seeking dismissal of recall application with heavy costs, the banks submitted that the Mallya’s plea is a “gross abuse of the process of court and forms part of the series of contumacious at perpetrated by him”.

“To seek recall of order issuing notice on a contempt petition is an arrogant disregard of the notice served on the alleged contemnor. The applicant is actually experimenting with this court because is ensconced in the UK which he possibly considers safe enough to defy the order of SC, therefore, instead of submitting himself before this court to explain his conduct he has purposely chosen to file this recall application,” the banks said in their reply.

Mallya’s defunct Kingfisher Airlines owes over R9,000 crore to the consortium of 17 banks. The tycoon had pegged his domestic assets at R2,014.60 crore and overseas assets worth R780 crore to the apex court.

The SBI has further told the top court that Mallya has not denied the existence of his bank account held in Edmond de Rothchild Bank, Geneva. However, the details of this bank account did not find mention in the list of his foreign assets filed before this court and this amounts to “willful concealment” and violation of April 7 order that directed him to disclose all assets held by him and his family. By not replying to the contempt notice, the liquor baron has also “willfully and deliberately disobeyed the order of July 25”.

The bench headed by justice Kurien Joseph had on July 25 issued a contempt notice to Mallya on a petition filed by the consortium of banks accusing Mallya of defying the court’s earlier directions over disclosure of assets. They had alleged that he had deliberately suppressed full disclosure of his assets including $40 million which he received in February from a British firm.

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