The Centre on Monday told the Supreme Court that the extradition of fugitive businessman Vijay Mallya was not under way due to “secret proceedings” against him in the United Kingdom, Bar and Bench reported. Mallya was scheduled to appear before the Supreme Court in a contempt of court case against him after his conviction was confirmed following a dismissal of his review plea on August 31.
The counsel of the Ministry of External Affairs told a bench of Justices UU Lalit and Ashok Bhushan that although Mallya’s extradition was upheld by the highest court in the United Kingdom, certain “secret proceedings” had been initiated after it.
When the court asked about this, the foreign ministry said that it had not been made a party to these proceedings, and that they were confidential. The liquor baron’s counsel, Ankur Saigal, claimed he was unaware of this development.
“We expect you to be completely aware when you are a counsel before this court,” the bench said. “You are the counsel for the person concerned and once your appearance for a party is recorded, your appearance continues.”
The court gave time till November 2 so that Mallya’s counsel can apprise it of these “secret proceedings”. “We want to know what is going on? What is pending there now,” Lalit asked the lawyer, according to The Hindu. The court also sought details on when Mallya would be able to appear before it.
In August, the Supreme Court had rejected Mallya’s petition seeking review of a 2017 order that held him guilty of contempt. In the May 2017 ruling, the top court held him guilty of contempt of court for transferring $40 million (approximately Rs 295 crore) to his children in violation of a court’s order. The amount was given to him by British liquor company Diageo Plc after he resigned as the chairperson of United Spirits Limited in February 2016.
A consortium of banks led by the State Bank of India, which had filed the case against Vijay Mallya, argued that disbursal of the money to his children Siddharth Mallya, Leanna Mallya and Tanya Mallya was in direct violation of a Karnataka High Court order.
Mallya owes Indians banks over Rs 9,000 crore. The Supreme Court had directed the businessman to give the banks a list of his assets so that they can recover the money. Mallya had argued that he had already handed over a complete list of his assets as of March 31, 2016.
When the hearing for the case resumed in June 2020, the Supreme Court pulled up its registry for not listing the review petition for three years. The hearing was adjourned after the court could not find a crucial reply in case records filed by Mallya.
The liquor baron, who is fighting his extradition to India, faces fraud and money laundering charges resulting from the collapse of his defunct company Kingfisher Airlines.
In February 2017, India had submitted an extradition request to the United Kingdom after Mallya made it clear he would not return. In July, the United Kingdom High Court allowed him to challenge his extradition order.
Mallya has repeatedly denied the charges against him and offered to pay back 100% of the amount borrowed by Kingfisher Airlines, but neither the banks nor the Enforcement Directorate has been willing to accept the offer. He also claimed that the allegations against him were related to borrowing only Rs 900 crore.