ED re­sponse sought on Mallya’s pe­ti­tion

Hindustan Times (Gurugram) - - Nation - HT Correspondent let­[email protected]­dus­tan­times.com ■

NEWDELHI:The Supreme Court on Fri­day sought re­sponse from the En­force­ment Direc­torate (ED) on busi­ness­man Vi­jay Mallya’s plea chal­leng­ing the on­go­ing pro­ceed­ings in a Mum­bai court to de­clare him a fugi­tive eco­nomic of­fender.

How­ever, a bench led by Chief Jus­tice Ran­jan Go­goi re­fused to re­strain the spe­cial Pre­ven­tion of Money Laun­der­ing Act (PMLA) court in Mum­bai from hear­ing ED’s pe­ti­tion seek­ing a “fugi­tive” tag for Mallya.

The Fugi­tive Eco­nomic Of­fend­ers’ Act, 2018, un­der which the ED has moved the spe­cial court, em­pow­ers the pros­e­cut­ing agency to con­fis­cate prop­erty of the per­son who is de­clared fugi­tive.

Mallya has ap­proached the top court against Bom­bay High Court’s or­der de­clin­ing him re­lief. The be­lea­guered busi­ness­man who re­port­edly fled to the United King­dom in March 2016 has been ac­cused of a de­fault of Rs 9,000 crore that was given to the Kingisher Air­lines by sev­eral banks.

Mallya is en­gaged in a lit­i­ga­tion with In­dian au­thor­i­ties in UK where ex­tra­di­tion pro­ceed­ings were ini­ti­ated against him. The UK court has fixed De­cem­ber 10 to de­liver its ver­dict on the ex­tra­di­tion plea.

The ED had ap­proached the spe­cial court in Mum­bai seek­ing the “fugi­tive eco­nomic of­fender” and had also sought im­me­di­ate con­fis­ca­tion of around Rs 12,500 crore worth of as­sets. Mallya had asked the tri­bunal to put its hear­ing on hold un­til the ap­pel­late tri­bunal un­der the PMLA takes up the plea of a con­sor­tium of banks seek­ing their dues. But the spe­cial court on Oc­to­ber 30 re­jected his plea, prompt­ing Mallya to ap­peal be­fore the HC.

Be­fore the high court, Mallya said his plea should not be mis­un­der­stood and that he was not run­ning away from pro­ceed­ings. He re­it­er­ated he wanted to pay back the dues.

How­ever, a high court bench of jus­tices RM Sa­vant and VK Jad­hav re­jected his ap­peal. The hear­ing at the trial court was at a pre­ma­ture stage as the lower court was still hear­ing the pros­e­cut­ing agency’s re­quest to de­clare Mallya a fugi­tive eco­nomic of­fender.


■ Vi­jay Mallya

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