Mumbai: A special Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court has ordered fugitive liquor baron Vijay Mallya and his company’s properties worth a total of Rs. 5,040 crore to be released to a consortium of 12 banks led by SBI, to whom he owes Rs. 6,203 crore.
Among the properties that have been directed to be restored to the banks including IDBI Bank, Punjab National Bank and Bank of Baroda are fixed deposits of Mallya held in HDFC Bank, Bangalore and under construction flats in Kingfisher Towers in Vittal Mallya Road, in the heart of Bangalore worth Rs. 962 crore. A farmhouse in Alibaug worth Rs. 24 crore is also among the properties. A major chunk of the amount Mallya owes the banks will come from the floors and commercial spaces of the upscale UB City mall in Bangalore worth Rs. 887 crore, his shares, that of his companies and pledged shares.
Mallya’s lawyers had opposed the plea stating that the court does not have jurisdiction and that the properties are not proceeds of crime and hence cannot be handed over to the banks. They also sought that the Enforcement Directorate, the prosecuting agency in the case, tell the court when Mallya is coming back to India.
Special judge Jayendra C. Jagdale said in his order regarding this, “As far as the possibility of coming back of Dr. Vijay Mallya is concerned, the legal process is going on. It is surprising to note that the legal team of Dr. Vijay Mallya is agitating and demanding from the ED when Dr. Vijay Mallya is coming to India. In fact, the said legal team is required to take instructions from their client as to when he is submitting himself to the judicial system of India. Ironically the absconding himself is asking the court to get confirmation from investigation agencies when they would secure custody of the accused. Dr. Mallya should come with clean hands.”
The order came on the plea of the ED which has registered a case of money laundering against him, Kingfisher Airlines and others, to confiscate to the central government the properties attached by it in 2016. The banks had intervened in this plea and sought that the properties be released to them as they are entitled to have a possession of these. The banks had informed the court that the Debt Recovery Tribunal had allowed their claim by a 2017 order in which Mallya and his companies were held liable by the tribunal to pay the banks Rs. 6,203 crore along with 11 percent yearly interest. Mallya and his companies had challenged the order in the appellate forum as well as the Karnataka High Court and the apex court, but their pleas had been dismissed.
The ED had confirmed on oath to the court that it is relinquishing its rights of confiscation of the properties and that it has no objection to their restoration to the banks. The court said in its order that thus there is no impediment to pass an order in the favour of the banks.
Regarding the claim of the banks, the court said that the claim of Rs. 6,203 crore by the banks is not imaginary. Stating that the banks have proved the loss, the court said, “Even the accused Dr. Vijay Mallya had himself placed a proposal for replacement of the due amount. Had there really been no loss to the applicant banks, then why Dr. Vijay Mallya is ready to repay the loss.”
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