Mallya's date before special court under new fugitive law today
Mumbai, Aug 26: Beleaguered businessman Vijay Mallya is listed to appear before a special court here on Monday as part of the first action initiated against an absconding accused under the newly enacted fugitive economic offenders law.
Official sources said while it is certain that Mallya may not appear in person as he is contesting an Indian extradition case in London, it is expected that his authorised legal representative may submit a reply to the court of special PMLA judge M S Azmi as part of his official response to the notice.
The same court, on June 30, had issued notice to Mallya to appear before it on August 27 after the Enforcement Directorate (ED) charged the liquor baron under the new law as it enlarged its money laundering probe against him and others in a RS 9,000 alleged bank fraud case. The central probe agency has also sought immediate confiscation of assets worth about Rs 12,500 crore of Mallya as part of this latest action.
The next course of legal action under the fugitive economic offender law depends entirely on the decision of the court, they said. They had earlier indicated that if Mallya does not appear before the court, he runs a risk of being declared a fugitive economic offender, besides orders being issued for properties linked to him being confiscated. The same court had earlier issued non-bailable warrants against the businessman in two cases filed by the ED.
Mallya, his now defunct venture Kingfisher Airlines Limited and others availed loans from various banks and the outstanding amount, including interest, against him is Rs 9,990.07 crore at present, the officials had said while filing the plea under the new law. Mallya, in the past, has said that he has become the "poster boy” of bank default and a lightning rod for public anger.
“I have been accused by politicians and the media alike of having stolen and run away with Rs 9,000 crores that was loaned to Kingfisher Airlines (KFA). Some of the lending banks have also labelled me a wilful defaulter,” he said.
The ED has furnished evidences in its two charge sheets, filed under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) in the past, to make a case for seeking a fugitive offender tag for Mallya from the court. He is currently contesting the money laundering charges in London after India initiated extradition proceedings to bring him back to the country. Both the ED and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) have filed cases for alleged loan default against him.
Modi government brought the new law as “there have been instances of economic offenders fleeing the jurisdiction of Indian courts, anticipating the commencement, or during the pendency, of criminal proceedings”.
The law has provisions for special courts under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 to declare a person as a fugitive economic offender and order immediate confiscation of assets. A fugitive economic offender is a person against whom an arrest warrant has been issued in respect of a scheduled offence and who has left India so as to avoid criminal prosecution, or being abroad, refuses to return to India to face criminal prosecution,” the government had said.
The cases of frauds, cheque dishonour or loan default of over Rs 100 crore would come under the ambit of the ordinance. The law offers necessary constitutional safeguards in terms of providing hearing to the person through counsel, allowing him time to file a reply, serving notice of summons to him, whether in India or abroad and appeal before a high court, it had said.