Liquor baron Vijay Mallya, who was held guilty of contempt of court by the Supreme Court of India, failed to make a personal appearance yesterday despite being directed to do so. A bench comprising Justices A K Goel and U U Lalit fixed the matter for hearing on July 14 and sought the assistance of the Solicitor General in the case.
The apex court had on May 9 held Mallya, who is presently in the United Kingdom, guilty of contempt on a plea by the consortium of lender banks, led by the State Bank of India, for his failure to furnish details of all his Indian as well as offshore assets. It had directed Mallya to appear before it on July 10 to argue on the quantum of punishment.
The offence of contempt of court entails a maximum imprisonment of up to six months or a fine of up to Rs 2,000 or both.
India had recently asked Britain to ensure the early extradition of Mallya, who is an accused in a bank loan default case of over Rs 9,000 crore involving his defunct Kingfisher Airlines. The apex court’s order had come on a plea by the consortium of banks, led by the State Bank of India (SBI), which had said that Mallya had allegedly transferred USD40 million received from British firm Diageo to his children in “flagrant violation” of various judicial orders.
The banks have alleged that Mallya had concealed the facts and diverted the money to his son Siddharth Mallya and daughters Leanna Mallya and Tanya Mallya.
Neither Mallya nor his lawyer appeared before the court; the businessman is awaiting his extradition trial in the Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London, which has been set for December 4.
The SC had started contempt proceedings against Mallya and had issued notice to him on March 8, 2016, on the plea by banks for recovery of about Rs 9,000 crore which Mallya and his companies owed to them. Mallya, however, managed to flee the country days before the SC took up the case against him.