Vijay Mallya, who owes more than Rs 9,000 crore to a clutch of 17 banks, has been declared a proclaimed offender by a special PMLA court.
The declaration came on a plea by the Enforcement Directorate(ED) in connection with its money laundering probe against Mallya in an alleged bank loan default case.
Mallya, who left India in the nick of the time, is learnt to be living in the UK.
Will the move help the authorities to bring the defaulter to books?
Here are the key points to note:
Who is a 'proclaimed defender'?
A person can be termed a proclaimed offender in a criminal case probe if the court has reasons to believe that the accused against whom a warrant of arrest has been issued by it, has absconded or is concealing himself so that such warrant cannot be executed.
As per Section 82 of the CrPC, the court can publish a written proclamation requiring such an accused to appear at a specified place and at a specified time in not less than 30 days from the date of publishing of such a proclamation.
Officials said that the agency also has the option to seek action under Section 83 of the CrPC (attachment of property of person absconding) if Mallya does not comply with proceedings initiated under Section 82.
Whoever fails to appear at the specified place and the specified time as required by a proclamation by the Court is punishable with imprisonment for up to 3 years or with fine or with both
He shall be punished with imprisonment for a term up to 7 years and shall also be liable to fine.
Under section 83 CrPC, the Court issuing a proclamation may order the attachment of any property belonging to the person to force him to appear before the court.
Why did ED want the court to declare Mallya a 'proclaimed offender'?
ED has been wanting Mallya to join investigations "in person" in its PMLA probe against him and others in the Rs 900 crore alleged loan fraud of IDBI bank and has virtually exhausted all legal remedies like seeking an Interpol arrest warrant and getting his passport revoked.
In response to ED's request for a red corner notice (RCN) against Mallya, Interpol had earlier sought some "clarifications" from the ED. RCN is a global arrest warrant. The global police body had asked ED to provide certain detailed information on the legal processes undertaken in the case before it can notify an RCN.
ED's plea to declare Mallya proclaimed offender seems to be an attempt to fill in all loopholes before requesting another RCN from Interpol.
Will Mallya fall in line now?
A report in The Hindu newspaper cites an ED official as saying that the case is now different from Lalit Modi's. In Modi's case, he was not declared a proclaimed offender before trying to extradite. Now since the ED has succeeded in getting Mallya declared a proclaimed offender, chances of getting Mallya extradited from the UK has brightened. Also, as said earlier, ED now has power to attach all his properties across the world. This also is likely to put pressure on Mallya.
Hitesh Jain, senior partner at law firm ALMT Legal, has toldThe Economic Times that this is likely to cripple Mallya's businesses. "...This step is more like financial blockade to bring him back in the country," he has been quoted as saying in the report.
India's earlier attempt to deport Mallya from the UK met with failure as that country had rejected the plea submitted to that country after revoking his diplomatic passport.
"The UK Government has informed us that under the 1971 Immigration Act, the UK does not require an individual to hold a valid passport in order to remain in the UK if they have extant leave to remain as long as their passport was valid when leave to remain or enter the UK was conferred," India's external affairs ministry statement has said.
However, the UK officials had agreed to consider extraditing Mallya under the 1993 treaty with India.