SC set to pass order in Mallya case

The consortium led by State Bank of India, represented by Attorney General Mukul Rohtagi, told the Supreme Court that the government is pursuing its effort to extradite beleagured industrialist Vijay Mallya and till he appears before the court, none of his application should be entertained. The majesty of the court is involved, he said on the concluding day of the hearing of contempt of court petition against Mallya who is now in England. The court reserved its order on the petition moved by the consortium, but it did not give any date for the delivery of the decision.

The crucial issue during the arguments was the $40 million the former liquor baron received from Diageo plc by selling shares in United Breweries. According to the banks, he had salted away the amount by transferring it to trusts in the name of his three children residing abroad. They contend that though the Supreme Court had directed him to make a full disclosure of the assets including the Diageo deal, he has only provided vague information and wilfully withheld the details. The Attorney General remarked that Mallya was playing "ducks and drakes" with the court.

Shyam Divan, counsel for the banks, argued that Mallya has violated orders of the Karnataka high court and even the Supreme Court. He has attempted to put his assets beyond the reach of the court and it was wilful. He violated the court injuctions against his assets. Counsel pointed out that according to Supreme Court Rules a person facing contempt proceedings must be present in the court. But he was dodging the court.

Senior counsel representing Mallya, C S Vaidyanathan, denied all allegations and asserted that the whole proceedings were "extraordinary and unusual". He has already disclosed whatever assets he had and there was no wilful obedience as alleged. He is treated like a criminal in a civil case for no apparent reason and he has been singled out for this treatment. For instance, Kingfisher Airlines made losses because of circumstances like fuel price fluctuation. While other airlines had been helped out he had to wind up this airline as well as United Breweries.

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