Beleaguered businessman Vijay Mallya has no intention to return to India and his passport was revoked due to his own conduct, the Enforcement Directorate told a Delhi court Monday. The submission was made before Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Sumit Dass in the backdrop of Mallya’s claim that he wanted to return to India but was “incapacitated” to travel as his passport had been revoked by Indian authorities.
The court had earlier asked the liquor baron to appear before it in a case of allegedly evading summons in a FERA violation matter. Advocate N K Matta, appearing for the ED, also told the court that under the provisions of law, Mallya can be given travel documents, even if he has no passport. The ED counsel also opposed Mallya’s plea seeking exemption from personal appearance on the ground of lack of passport.
“The conduct of the accused shows that he has no intention to come to India. His passport was impounded because of his own conduct. There are provisions in law and he can approach the authorities for travel document in case of emergency, if he has no passport.
“He has no intention to come,” Matta said. After the submission, senior advocate Ramesh Gupta, appearing for Mallya, sought time from the court. “Give me (Mallya) some time so that I can approach the authorities for such a document,” he said. The court has now put up the matter for further hearing on November 4.
Mallya, who is currently in London, made the submission through his counsel on September 9, saying he wanted to come back to India but was “incapacitated” to travel despite “best intentions” as his passport had been revoked. On July 9, the court had cancelled the exemption from
personal appearance granted to Mallya and directed him to appear before it on September 9.
On September 9, Mallya’s counsel moved an application seeking exemption for Mallya from personal appearance for the day after which the court had sought ED’s reply on his plea while posting the matter for today. The exemption from personal appearance to Mallya was granted in December 2000 on ED’s complaint for evading summons issued by it.
The agency had issued summons to the businessman in connection with alleged payment of USD 200,000 to a British firm for displaying Kingfisher logo in Formula One World Championships in London and some European countries in 1996, 1997 and 1998. It had claimed that the money was allegedly paid without prior approval from RBI in violation of FERA norms.
In its plea against Mallya, ED had also sought issuance of non-bailable warrant against the Chairman of the defunct Kingfisher Airlines to secure his presence in the ongoing trial of the case, which is at the final stage. The agency’s plea had said Mallya was reported to be in the United Kingdom and his presence in trial was essential. It had also sought court’s direction to him to remain personally present in every hearing.
Matta had earlier argued that the court should recall its December 2000 exemption order, as a PMLA court in Mumbai has recently issued an open-ended warrant against him in connection with a money laundering case. According to ED, Mallya was summoned on four occasions for questioning in connection with a contract signed in December 1995 with London-based firm Benetton Formula Ltd for promotion of the Kingfisher brand abroad. When Mallya failed to appear before ED in response to the summons, a complaint was filed on March 8, 2000 before a court here and later charges were framed against him under FERA.