New Delhi: The Supreme Court today castigated liquor baron Vijay Mallya for evading and abusing the legal process, as it rejected his plea seeking quashing of criminal proceedings in a case relating to violation of foreign exchange rules and imposed Rs 10 lakh as costs on him.
The apex court also said Mallya’s “enormous money power” made him believe that the State should “adjust” its affairs to suit his convenience. “In our opinion, the appeal is required to be dismissed for more than one reason. The fact that the adjudicating officer chose to drop the proceedings against the appellant herein does not absolve the appellant (Mallya) of the criminal liability incurred by him by virtue of the operation of Section 40 read with Section 56 of the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act…
“Exonerating such an accused, who successfully evades the process of law and thereby commits an independent offence on the ground that he is found to be not guilty of the substantive offence, would be destructive of law and order,” a bench headed by Justice J Chelameswar said.
“The appeal is dismissed with exemplary costs quantified at Rs ten lakh to be paid to the Supreme Court Legal Service Authority,” the bench said.
The complaint against Mallya was filed by ED on March 8, 2000, after he failed to appear before it in response to repeated summons for alleged violation of FERA provisions in arranging funds to advertise his liquor products abroad.
Admonishing Mallya, the bench said the liquor baron’s reply to the summons against him highlighted that “it was not a case of mere seeking accommodation by the appellant but requiring the date to be fixed by his convenience.
“Such stand by a person facing allegation of serious nature could hardly be appreciated. Obviously, the enormous money power makes him believe that the State should adjust its affairs to suit his commercial convenience,” the bench, which also comprised Justice A K Goel, said.
The apex court noted that such “evasive tactics” adopted by a summoned person like Mallya would result in “the destruction of the material which might otherwise constitute valuable evidence.” “For all the abovementioned reasons, we do not see any merit in the appeal. We are also of the opinion that the entire approach adopted by the appellant is a sheer abuse of the process of law,” the bench said.