Mallya in a spot for ‘maligning’ Indian judiciary

(This story originally appeared in on Sep 21, 2019)

Fugitive businessman Vijay Mallya has to deposit Rs 3,101 crore in the Debt Recovery Appellate Tribunal (DRAT) if his appeal before it has to be heard.

The DRAT had issued this order in March 2018 and Mallya had challenged it in the High Court. The court had upheld it and he then filed a review petition. Once again, the High Court has dismissed his plea. Mallya’s claim that there were ‘significant events’ that have transpired during the interregnum did not cut ice with the court. The ‘significant events’ was the offer of Rs 13,960.31 as final settlement. The court noted that he had not paid a single rupee after the promise.

In another significant part of the case, Mallya was asked why he was seeking justice from the High Court of Karnataka after he had maligned the Indian Judiciary before English courts. Was he entitled to invoke the jurisdiction of Indian courts after having shown such conduct in foreign courts, his counsel was asked. The court was told that some submissions were made in the extradition case but that should not come in the way of providing him justice.

Since his review petition was already found not fit for consideration, the court did not dwell too deep into the issue of Mallya’s claims before the English courts.

Mallya had claimed that he had offered to settle the entire amount due from him to the consortium of banks. The outstanding is Rs 13,960.31. This offer was made in another related case. The division bench of Chief Justice Abhay S Oka and Justice Krishna S Dixit noted that not even a single rupee has been repaid since the offer.

The court in its latest judgement said, “Nearly a year has lapsed and nothing concrete has happened pursuant hereto, and not even a rupee has been repaid out of Rs 13,960.31 crores offered bona fide for settlement; there is nothing significant in the contention of the petitioner as would warrant exercise of review jurisdiction in his favour.”

Mallya and United Breweries Holdings Limited (UBHL) had in the other case “made a bona fide offer of Rs 13,960.31 crore as on 3.8.208 for final settlement.”

During the course of the arguments, the judgement noted that it has asked Mallya about his claims before the English courts. “To the court’s poser that the Review Petitioner in his cases before the English Courts having maligned the Indian Judiciary, whether is entitled to invoke the jurisdiction of this Court,” the counsel replied that in the law relating to extradition, certain specific grounds were taken by the petitioner there, is true, but the allegations as such, are not; he hastens to add that there is nothing on record of this case at least, as would justify denial of relief to the petitioner on that ground per se; since we have held that the Review Petitions do not merit consideration, much is not deliberated as to the conduct of the petitioner before the Foreign Courts,” the court said.

The genesis of this dispute is the failure of Kingfisher Airlines to repay the loans to the tune of Rs 6,493.29 crores to the consortium of banks led by State Bank of India. The DRAT in January 2017 held that Mallya and the Airlines were liable for repayment of the loans. Mallya had approached the DRAT with an appeal. The DRAT had said that the appeal would be heard only if he deposited half the amount. This was challenged in the High Court. The Revision Petition lists Mallya’s address as “18-19, Cornwall Terrace, Regents Park, London NW1 4QP.”

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