Denies any breach of the apex court’s order; seeks exemption from personal appearance for a ‘meaningful settlement’
Beleaguered liquor baron Vijay Mallya on Monday urged 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 SBI-led consortium of banks. In the alternative, he has sought exemption from personal appearance before the top court.
Denying any breach or violation of the apex court’s order of April 7 directing him to disclose all assets held by him and his family, Mallya said that his disclosures about the lists of assets and liabilities made as on March 31, 2016, submitted to the Supreme Court in the sealed envelope, were “accurate” and were “only for the purpose of enabling the lenders to have a fair idea for a meaningful settlement.”
The banks are “incorrectly alleging that the disclosures are inaccurate, and are now seeking to substantially alter the basis and purpose of the disclosures,” the businessman said in his recall application.
A bench headed by Justice Kurian Joseph said that it would consider the issue, including aspects of Mallya’s appearance in court and the contempt notice, on September 27. The consortium of 17 banks led by SBI has to file reply to Mallya’s recall application within 10 days.
Mallya’s defunct Kingfisher Airlines (KAL) 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.
Attorney general Mukul Rohatgi, representing the banks, argued that as per the Supreme Court rules, Mallya has to appear before the court after a notice has been served upon him in a contempt petition. “He is bound to appear (before the court) today. If he’s not appearing … he can’t be heard,” Rohatgi argued, adding that Mallya had failed to disclose that he received $40 million in February.
Senior advocate CS Vaidyanathan, appearing for Mallya, told the bench that they have filed an application for recall of apex court’s earlier order and said that no contempt is been made out.
The bench on July 25 had issued 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 said that he had deliberately not made full disclosure of his assets including $40 million which he received in February from a British firm.
According to the liquor baron’s application, the alleged contemnor had tried to continue settlement discussions with the banks despite SBI, under pressure from the Finance ministry, filing a criminal complaint for cheating against Kingfisher Airlines, United Breweries (Holdings) Ltd (UBHL) and Mallya himself. He said that the “next anticipated step is for the Enforcement Directorate to attach assets in excess of R6,000 crore” and denied the lenders allegation of secretly disposing off his assets.
Mallya further submitted that these contempt proceedings are abuse of the process and have been resorted to by the consortium for oblique motives which ought not to be countenanced by the SC. He said that caution should be applied before issuance of such notice as contempt proceedings are not intended to be used for enforcement of money decrees or directions for payment of money.