Fugitive businessman Vijay Mallya on Wednesday lost an appeal to gain further access to court-held funds to cover his costs for legal proceedings in India, PTI reported. A High Court judge in London held that the 65-year-old had failed to provide sufficient evidence in support of the over 750,000 pounds (nearly Rs 7.7 crore) he sought.
“There was no breakdown of the incurred costs between the various sets of proceedings, there was no attempt to justify the incurred costs by reference to steps already taken,” Justice Robert Miles said in his order. “No invoices, bills of costs, descriptive schedules or other evidence was provided in support of the amount of costs being sought.”
Mallya’s lawyer had moved the petition seeking funds by submitting that the coronavirus pandemic had caused a substantial disruption to the Indian legal system and that lawyers in India had “effectively downed tools until their costs were cleared”, PTI reported.
“The lawyers do need to be paid and therefore these are necessary expenses towards proceedings with a very reasonable prospect of success,” Mallya’s lawyer Philip Marshall told the court. Meanwhile, Tony Beswetherick, the barrister appearing on behalf of a consortium of Indian banks, had countered that any such sanction of funds would be contrary to the interest of the creditors.
In a separate order in February, a court in London had given Mallya permission to use around 1.1 million pounds (more than Rs 11.28 crore) from the Court Funds Office towards his living expenses and to meet legal expenses. However, these expenses were only related to the ongoing bankruptcy proceedings against Mallya in the United Kingdom.
Mallya remains on bail in Britain, having lost a separate legal battle against extradition to India to face charges of fraud and money laundering. Meanwhile, Mallya has been fighting against being declared bankrupt in the United Kingdom and has repeatedly sought access to funds to meet his mounting legal costs, both in Britain and India.
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 has also claimed that the allegations against him were related to borrowing only Rs 900 crore.
The debt sought by the banks comprises principal and interest, in addition to compound interest at a rate of 11.5% per annum from 25 June 2013. Mallya has also made applications in India to contest the compound interest charge.