In what can be seen as a hardening of stance against controversial businessman Vijay Mallya, the Supreme Court on Thursday asked him to disclose all his assets along with those held by his wife and children in India and abroad. The court also asked him to indicate “the amount he is prepared to deposit in the court for a meaningful negotiated settlement” and to prove his bona fides. Agreeing with the plea of a consortium of 13 banks led by the State Bank of India, that his presence in the court is “necessary” for any meaningful negotiations, a bench comprising justices Kurian Joseph and Rohinton Nariman also asked Mallya’s lawyers to get instructions from him and indicate when would he be present in court.
The developments were a result of a short hearing on the matter where banks are seeking payment of loan dues of more than Rs 9,000 crore and have rejected Mallya’s offer for a one-time settlement where he will pay R4,000 crore by September.
Mallya needs to now file an affidavit on oath by April 21 disclosing all his assets — movable, immovable, tangible, intangible, including the shareholdings in various companies, etc — as on March 31, 2016, in India and abroad, not only in his name but also in those of his wife and children.
The matter has been posted for further hearing on April 26 by when the banks also need to file their response to Mallya’s affidavit.
Senior advocate Shyam Divan, appearing for the consortium of banks, informed the court that it had unanimously rejected first an offer of Rs 4,000 crore and then again a “slightly modified” settlement offer received on Wednesday evening from Mallya’s side.
“There are large figures involved. We think it is reasonable to ask him to make a full, fair and final disclosure of his assets. He can throw contingencies at us for making these payments. He should make a substantial advance deposit and his presence is required so that negotiations can be done person to person. Senior bank officials will also be present in the court to have an effective solution,” Divan said.
Divan added, “Mallya’s presence in court will accelerate the process… Negotiated settlement is always better than contesting.”
Mallya’s counsel C S Vaidyanathan objected that disclosure of assets was made successively to the banks in 2010, 2011 and 2012 and there was “no occasion” after that but agreed to update the assets. While he did not rule out his return to India, he added that currently there were “some problems” with it.
The bench had initially included the assets held by Mallya’s “close relatives” also, but later dropped it after Vaidyanathan objected, saying he can account only for himself and not others.
The court also allowed the impleadment application filed by another consortium of banks led by Oriental Bank of Commerce (OBC), which said that it was not a part of larger consortium of 13 banks led by SBI but one of another two consortia that had advanced loans to Mallya.
On March 10, the bench had questioned the banks over advancing loans to Mallya and his companies without securing enough assets in guarantee. It had also issued a notice to Mallya, who flew out of India on March 2, the day the banks sought the impounding of his passport as part of loan recovery proceedings.