Mumbai: A special court Tuesday rejected businessman Vijay Mallya’s plea seeking a stay on the proceedings initiated by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to declare him a fugitive economic offender (FEO). Special judge M S Azmi rejected Mallya’s plea and said the court will hear arguments on the main ED plea to declare the beleaguered industrialist an FEO on November 22.
The special court had heard extensive arguments on Friday from Mallya’s lawyer as well as the ED counsel on his petition seeking a stay on proceedings of the financial crime probe agency against him. The ED has sought that Mallya, who is currently in the UK, be declared an FEO and his properties be confiscated and brought under the control of the Union government as per provisions of the new FEO Act.
Mallya’s counsel Amit Desai, however, had urged the court, set up under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), to refrain from hearing the ED’s plea at least till November 26. Desai had told the court that earlier this month, the appellate tribunal against money laundering had directed the ED to maintain status quo with regard to Mallya’s properties till November 26, the next date of hearing before the tribunal.
The ED, represented by advocate D P Singh, however, had told the court that Desai’s arguments were aimed only at ensuring that Mallya did not have to face any proceedings before any court in India. He has no intention of repaying anyone, or, of ever coming back to India. Mallya is using the pending extradition proceedings and his bail conditions imposed by an English court as mere excuses to avoid coming back to India. Declaring him an FEO is the only way to bring him back, ED had told court.
The ED had also argued the court could first declare Mallya an FEO and then wait for the tribunal’s proceedings before acting upon the agency’s plea for confiscation of the embattled liquor tycoon’s properties and assets. Mallya, accused of defaulting on loan repayments and money laundering, left India in March 2016.The 62-year-old former Kingfisher Airline boss is fighting extradition to India on charges of fraud and money laundering.