Businessman Vijay Mallya left India legally and cannot be declared a fugitive because he was arrested in the United Kingdom on the basis of a warrant issued against him by an Indian court, his lawyer told a special Prevention of Money Laundering Act court on Friday, the Hindustan Times reported.

“He left the country even before the warrant against him was issued,” said Amit Desai. “He did not leave the country to avoid criminal prosecution. He has the fundamental right to leave the country by the right of movement under the Constitution.”

The lawyer told special judge MS Azmi that Mallya’s arrest in the UK on the basis of the Indian warrant shows that an effort was made to execute it. “Only when he [Mallya] is concealing himself from the execution, then one can say he is absconding,” Desai added.

This came a day after the court rejected Mallya’s plea seeking a stay on the Enforcement Directorate’s application to declare him a fugitive economic offender. The Bombay High Court had rejected a similar plea on November 22.

The investigating agency’s lawyer DP Singh, however, reasoned that Mallya was declared a proclaimed offender and despite that the agency had not been able to get his custody. This satisfies the requisite provisions in the law to declare him a “fugitive economic offender”, The Indian Express reported.

Mallya is accused of cheating banks of Rs 9,000 crore and is fighting a number of lawsuits in the United Kingdom and India related to fraud and money laundering allegations. India is also attempting to have him extradited him from the UK.

The court will continue hearing the case on Monday.

Court details to help banks

Meanwhile, the UK High Court has allowed a consortium of 13 Indian banks to use information from an unrelated case that will help them clear some of the debt that Mallya owes, PTI reported on Friday.

An order passed by the court’s Business and Property Division on Wednesday permitted the banks to use certain details in the case involving the sale of a luxury super yacht that Mallya allegedly used to own before abandoning it last year. The court order will allow the banks to seek any surplus money from the sale of the “Indian Empress” after all the creditors are paid.

The information was disclosed in court as part of a worldwide freezing order of the businessman’s assets.