SC directs disclosure of Mallya’s overseas assets to banks
New Delhi: Beleaguered liquor baron Vijay Mallya on Tuesday told the Supreme Court that he won’t come to India to be arrested, leading to the apex court directing that details of his, his estranged wife, and children’s overseas assets be given to the consortium of 13 banks, seeking the recovery of the over Rs.9,000 crore loaned to his now-grounded Kingfisher Airlines.
A bench of Justice Kurian Joseph and Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman directed its registry to furnish the contents of the overseas assets furnished to the court in a sealed cover to the banks, after counsel for Mallya said if his client came back, he “will be taken to Tihar Jail” and when his “liberty is at stake”, how can he be expected to return.
Mallya’s response, made by senior counsel C.A. Vaidyanathan appearing for him, came in response to the court’s query about when he intended to return to India.
“He does not have a passport,” said Vaidyanathan. “The moment he will come, he will be arrested. Then no purpose would be served.”
The court direction came to the registry came as it noted that the beleaguered liquor baron had not complied with its April 7 order.
“The point is that you have not complied with out April 7 order both in letter and spirit,” it observed, pointing from that date to Tuesday, there was no plea for the review or the modification of the April 7 order.
Asking Mallya to indicate the amount he is prepared to deposit before the top court to show his bonafide for a meaningful negotiation with the bank consortium, headed by the State Bank of India, the apex court by its April 7 order had asked him to disclose the details of all his properties – movable, immovable, tangible, intangible, shareholdings – held by him, his wife and children.
Asking if the consortium was interested in the recovery of the amount or putting him in jail, Mallya told the court that “he did not have free money” for making an upfront offer of an amount to begin with for a negotiated settlement of the outstanding dues as all his bank accounts are attached.
“Do you expect this court to act as your recovery officer,” the bench asked as it was told that most of the money that Mallya could deposit with the bank to prove his bonafides would become available if it passed orders for their release of money locked in different financial dealings.
Telling the court that the banks could not insist on the disclosure of the overseas assets of Mallya as the same were barred under the Income Tax Act, senior counsel Parag Tripathi told the court that none of the money advanced by the banks including IDBI was misused by him.
Tripathi who had appeared for the United Breweries (Holding) Limited and Kingfisher Finvest (India) Ltd., told the court that all the overseas assets of Mallya, his estranged wife and children were from the money they got from the trust set up by his father Vittal Mallya.
Opposing the disclosure of the information given to the court as sought by Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, he said that it would be used by Enforcement Directorate to launch a probe.
Refusing to make any commitment as sought by Tripathi, Rohatgi said that Mallya be asked to furnish all the details of his assets including that of his estranged wife and children in an affidavit so that banks could make an assessment for the settlement of dues.
Noting the statement by Vaidyanathan that Mallya would not come back, Rohatgi said: “We shall see what we have to do.”
As Vaidyanathan said that the overseas assets of Mallyas were not covered under the “personal guarantee” given by Vijay Mallya, Rohatgi told the court to record this right to refute their claim.
Asking the banks to act in accordance with law on the information being made available to them by the court, the bench asked the debts recovery tribunal at Bengaluru to dispose of the matter pending before it expeditiously, possibly within two months.