Supreme Court judge Rohinton Nariman on Monday recused himself from hearing businessman Vijay Mallya’s plea against confiscation of his assets, Hindustan Times reported. However, before recusing himself, Nariman told Mallya’s counsel that Kingfisher Airlines, the defunct company that Mallya owned, had not repaid the money owed to banks.
A bench of Justices RF Nariman and S Ravindra Bhat observed that the businessman had not deposited a “single penny” in the banks yet, PTI reported. “Let the matter be listed before a Bench of which one of us [Nariman] is not a member,” the bench said in its order. Chief Justice of India SA Bobde will set up a new bench.
Mallya has challenged the Karnataka High Court’s orders – dated October 5, 2018 and September 13, 2019 – upholding the Debts Recovery Appellate Tribunal’s instruction to him to deposit Rs 3,101 crore in the banks. The deposit was a precondition to hearing the businessman’s appeal against the Debt Recovery Tribunal’s order asking him to pay Rs 6,203 crore plus interest to a consortium of banks led by the State Bank of India. The banks had lent money to Kingfisher Airlines.
Mallya owes banks more than Rs 9,000 crore. In June, he filed the petition that was mentioned in the top court on Monday. The businessman argued that the charges filed by investigation agencies were baseless, and claimed that the Centre had refused to take up his offer to clear his loans.
The businessman fled India and moved to London in March 2016. India submitted an extradition request to the United Kingdom in February 2017 after he made his self-imposed exile clear. In July, the United Kingdom High Court allowed him to challenge his extradition order.
On January 1, a court in Mumbai allowed the banks to utilise Mallya’s movable assets to recover the money they are owed. On January 6, the Supreme Court said Mallya cannot cite the pendency of his plea in the top court to delay insolvency proceedings in courts “anywhere else in the world”.