The Supreme Court on Tuesday cracked the whip on embattled liquor-baron, Vijay Mallya asking him to disclose all assets, including foreign assets and that of his wife and children. The apex court, hearing a plea from Mallya, also directed the Bangalore Debt Recovery Tribunal (DRT) to expedite the case and set a 2-months deadline to pronounce the order in the case.
Earlier, Mallya had refused to disclose his foreign assets citing his NRI status. Mallya has pegged his domestic assets at Rs 2,014 crore, overseas assets at Rs 748 crore. The liquor-baron repeated his stance to the Supreme Court that the atmosphere is not conducive for him to return to India and he’ll be sent to Tihar jail “the moment I get back.’
A clutch of 17-banks are fighting to get back Rs 9,000 crore money lent to Mallya’s now defunct Kingfisher Airlines that stopped flying in 2012. Though banks classified Mallya as a defaulter that year itself, banks have so far not been able to make any meaningful recovery in this case. This is despite two lenders—State Bank of India and Punjab National Bank—have tagged Mallya as a wilful defaulter. Recently, the bank consortium moved to the SC seeking action against Mallya.
Mallya, who flew on 2 March to UK while investigations were still on the issue, has refused to return since then. Mallya said his personal liberty at stake and he must have the freedom to mobilise funds. Banks are more interested in putting him behind bars rather than getting their money back, the liquor-baron told the court. Mallya informed the court through his lawyers, adding returning to India is meaningless in the current context.
The attorney general, representing the government, said Mallya is playing hide and seek and he is a fugitive from justice. The money involved in this case is not of a ‘King’ but of banks, the AG said. If necessary, the government will move UK government to take action against Mallya, the AG said.