Vijay Mallya had filed an appeal against the Enforcement Directorate, which wanted him to be declared a 'fugitive economic offender' and his properties to be confiscated.
In a major blow to Vijay Mallya, the Bombay High Court on Thursday dismissed the absconding former liquor baron’s appeal for not attaching ‘fugitive’ tag to his name, reports from Mumbai said. Vijay Mallya had filed an appeal against the Enforcement Directorate, which wanted him to be declared a ‘fugitive economic offender’ and his properties to be confiscated. Vijay Mallya sought a stay on ED’s request to begin proceedings against him under the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act of 2018.
The Act is aimed at preventing loan defaulters and financial frauds from evading legal process by fleeing the country. It may be noted that a fugitive economic offender, according to the Act, is a person who has an arrest warrant issued related to a scheduled offence but has left the country in order to avoid criminal prosecution.
Vijay Mallya is accused of defaulting on about approximately Rs 9,000 crore in loans willfully for his now-defunct carrier Kingfisher Airlines. The ED had furnished evidence against him in two charge sheets, which were filed under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court, to make a case for seeking a fugitive offender tag for Vijay Mallya from the court.
However, Mallya had informed the PMLA court in September 2018 that he was not a fugitive economic offender (FEO), and was also not involved in any scheduled offence of money laundering.
Non-bailable warrants were issued against the 62-year-old former Kingfisher Airline boss in November 2016 and July 2017, while the Fugitive Offender Act came into existence on April 21, 2018, while Mallya left the country in March 2016. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had also filed cases against him for alleged loan default.
Presently, Mallya is fighting numerous lawsuits filed against him in the United Kingdom and India, pertaining to money laundering allegations and fraud. Meanwhile, India is also attempting to extradite him from the UK.
The Fugitive Economic Offenders Act
The bill was first tabled in the Budget session of the Parliament amid revelation of massive fraud at Punjab National Bank (PNB) by diamantaire Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi. The bill was finally passed in the July this year by both the houses of the Parliament. The ED soon swung into action and filed a petition seeking fugitive economic offender tag for Vijay Mallya, who fled the country March 2016.