A special court in Mumbai on Monday directed businessman Vijay Mallya to reply within three weeks to a plea of the Enforcement Directorate, which is seeking to declare him an offender under the new Fugitive Economic Offenders Act, 2018, reported PTI. Mallya has to respond by September 24.
“After the filing of the reply, the court will conduct a day-to-day hearing of the matter for timely disposal,” Mint quoted Special Prevention of Money Laundering Act judge MS Azmi as saying.
During the hearing, Hiten Venegaonkar, who represented the Enforcement Directorate, argued against granting more time to Mallya. He pointed out that the new law permits only a week’s time once a lawyer representing a “fugitive economic offender” presents himself before the court. Mallya’s time to file the reply was over, he added.
Amit Desai, the businessman’s senior counsel, argued that the petition was voluminous and blamed the investigation agency for not providing certain details. “The ED has not put every evidence in the petition that they rely upon and we believe that it will be very crucial to know those details when we file our reply,” said Desai. “The rejection of my application to grant more time will have draconian consequences. As the court knows, the case is also going on in the UK and we have to get some documents from overseas and hence we are demanding reasonable time to file the reply.”
Meanwhile, United Kingdom-based liquor firm Diageo Plc has sought to become a party in the case. Lawyer Satish Maneshinde said that Diageo now owns some of Mallya’s assets that the investigating agency wants to confiscate.
During the last hearing on August 27, at least five parties sought to implead themselves in the matter. The petitioners, including a member of Mallya’s family, had sought documents submitted by the Enforcement Directorate.
Mallya, who now lives in the United Kingdom and is fighting an extradition case, is accused of defrauding banks of loans worth Rs 9,300 crore. In July, a court in the United Kingdom granted him bail in connection with the extradition case and adjourned the hearing till September 12. It also asked Indian authorities to submit videos of the condition of Mumbai’s Arthur Road jail, where Mallya will be held if extradited. The businessman’s defence team has raised several questions about the conditions in the jail.