Fugitive businessman Vijay Mallya on Wednesday told the Bombay High Court that attaching his assets under the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act and declaring him a fugitive economic offender is like giving him an “economic death penalty”, PTI reported.

Mallya, through his counsel Amit Desai, made the statement before a bench of Justices Ranjit More and Bharati Dangre, when the court was hearing his plea challenging provisions of the Act that came into existence in August last year.

“My debts and the interest on such debts are mounting,” Mallya’s counsel said. “I have assets to pay off these debts but the government won’t allow the use of these assets to clear the debts. I have no control over my properties. This is an economic death penalty that has been awarded to me.”

Mallya, who owes Indian banks over Rs 9,000 crore, fled to the United Kingdom in 2016. A court in London ordered his extradition to India in December 2018. The UK government signed an order to extradite him on February 4.

Desai urged the court to pass an injunction against the proceedings related to confiscation of his assets, but the bench refused to grant any interim relief on the plea.

In January, a special court in Mumbai had declared Mallya a fugitive economic offender under the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act. Mallya approached the Bombay High Court challenging several provisions of the Act, including confiscation of assets and placing them under the control of the Union government.

Mallya also filed another petition challenging the special court order that declared him a fugitive economic offender. The plea is being heard by another division bench of the High Court.

Earlier this month, Desai told the Bombay High Court that the confiscation of Mallya’s properties under the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act is draconian. The Enforcement Directorate opposed the petition and the court also noted that the legislation was a sound one and not draconian. The court, however, issued a notice to the attorney general to respond to Mallya’s plea challenging the Act.