SC to Mallya: No immunity. Disclose assets abroad
“Mallya is a fugitive from justice in India. He is playing hide and seek and cooking cock and bull story. He is deliberately concealing something from the court as he had no intention to come back” Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, representing consortium of banks tells SC
“Yes. he was a defaulter but not a wilful defaulter and here this is a case of business failure and not that of wilful default”, Mallya’s lawyers.
The Supreme Court today sternly told business tycoon Vijay Mallya that he cannot claim immunity from disclosure of his assets and those of his family in India and abroad to consortium of banks on the ground that he was an Non Resident Indian since 1988
“We don't find any tangible objection in disclosing the assets (of Mallya, his wife and children) to banks”, a bench comprising Justices Kurian Joseph and R F Nariman said. The bench directed the apex court registry to furnish to the lenders, a consortium of banks, the details of assets, both domestic and foreign, declared by the former liquor baron of himself and his family members, in sealed cover to the apex court.
“The respondent has not complied with our April 7 order. The whole purpose of asking for disclosure was to give a fair idea to banks for entering into a meaningful and viable settlement”, the bench said asking the Debt Recovery Tribunal in Bengaluru to expeditiously decide within two months, the pleas of banks and financial institutions for recovery of their loans to the tune of Rs 9,400 crore
It is to be noted that on April 21, two weeks after the apex court asked him to disclose all assets owned by him and his family in India and abroad, Mallya told the Supreme Court through an affidavit that banks who have initiated recovery proceedings against him have no right over the information of his movable and immovable assets in foreign countries as he was an NRI since 1988.
“Statement of Assets was confined to assets in India only and overseas assets were not disclosed which as a Non-resident Indian, Respondent no 3 (Vijay Mallya) is not obliged to disclose even to income tax authorities in his Indian tax returns”, it said.
Today’s court direction was issued after Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi submitted that there was total non-compliance with the apex court's April 7 order as Mallya was neither indicating the date of his return to the country to make an appearance before the court nor was he showing his bonafide for reaching a settlement with the lenders by not showing willingness to deposit a substantial part of the amount he owed them.
He is a fugitive from justice in India, the Attorney General said, adding the embattled businessman was playing hide and seek and cooking cock and bull story. Rohatgi said Mallya was deliberately concealing something from the court as he had no intention to come back. However, senior advocates C S Vaidyanathan and Parag Tripathi, appearing for Mallya and his companies respectively, submitted that he was a defaulter but not a wilful defaulter and here this is a case of business failure and not that of wilful default.
Vaidyanathan submitted the accumulated loans of Kingfisher Airlines stood at Rs 16,000 crore in 2013 and all loans were given on the basis of personal assets of Mallya which is in the records of the banks. That being the case the liabilities cannot be attached to his estranged wife living abroad and NRI children who are protected under the law from disclosing their overseas assets, he contended. Mallya has defaulted on repayment of loans of Rs 9,400 crore to a State Bank of India-led consortium.