Want to come to India, but passport revoked: 900 crores’ defaulder Vijay Mallya

LONDON,RITIKA JAIN: Liquor baron Vijay Mallya explained his absence from the court proceedings of a case against him to a New Delhi court, saying that he was unable to remain present for the hearings because the Indian authorities had revoked his passport in April this year.

“I was living in London (United kingdom) at that time (when the passport was revoked), and have been a permanent resident there of, since nearly three decades,” he said in an exemption application filed through his lawyer Ajay Bhargava.

Mallya is charged for alleged violation of foreign exchange rules.

The beleaguered businessman also claimed that he had no travel document which could allow him to come to India.

The defence counsel further apprised the court that on April 15 to “the utter shock and surprise,” Mallya passport was suspended by the Indian passport authority. Thereafter, on April 23, without affording a personal hearing which was duly requested — his passport was revoked, Mallya’s lawyer said.

In an e-mail exchange with his lawyer, he said that Mallya had expressed his willingness to return to India, saying, “I find myself incapacitated to travel to India at this moment, even though, I am making all the efforts to have the said revocation of my passport set aside.”

On July 9, Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (CMM) Sumit Dass had revoked Mallya’s exemption granted to him in the year 2000 directing him to appear in court on Friday.

Enforcement Directorate (ED) lawyer Navin Matta told the court that Mallya is also evading questioning and proceedings in various other matters pending against him.

The court has sought a reply from the ED and fixed the matter for further hearing on October 4.

The ED has accused Mallya of allegedly paying $200,000 to a London-based firm Benetton Formula Ltd, for the promotion of the Kingfisher brand abroad. According to the ED, Mallya had paid this amount to the British firm for displaying the Kingfisher logo during the Formula One World Championships in London, and some other European countries in the years 1996-1998. ED stated that the money was allegedly paid without prior approval from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in violation of FERA norms.

After a protracted legal battle, on November 23, 2015, the State Bank of India (SBI) tagged Mallya and two of his companies as wilful defaulters after they failed to clear the loans given to the long-grounded Kingfisher Airlines. Mallya owes a consortium of 17 banks led by the SBI dues to the tune of Rs.9,000 crore.

Mallya managed to evade the authorities in March despite a lookout notice circulated by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), to all the airports.