Denying that it has allowed wilful defaulter Vijay Mallya to slip away, State Bank of India, which has an exposure of Rs 1,600 crore to Kingfisher Airlines and also the leader of its consortium of lenders, has said the bank has moved very promptly on taking the appropriate legal steps required to protect banks’ interest and public money.
According to SBI, as senior advocates had advised that it will not be possible to directly approach the Supreme Court for seeking reliefs in respect of the deal, SBI additionally filed four applications in DRT Bengaluru seeking various reliefs. The news item about settlement between Diageo, USL and Mallya was reported on February 26, 2016.
On the same day itself, SBI moved DRT Bengaluru for advancement of the matter which was listed for hearing on March 8. DRT advanced the matter to February 29 as 27 and 28 were holidays being Saturday and Sunday respectively, SBI said.
On March 2, 2016 DRT Bengaluru heard arguments only on the application seeking garnishee relief against Diageo and USL and posted the matter to March 4. SBI had filed applications seeking the lenders’ first right on the $75-million payout from Diageo to Mallya under a recent deal, Mallya’s arrest and impounding of his passport.
As DRT Bengaluru did not grant any relief on March 2, SBI filed a writ petition before the Karnataka High Court on March 3 and requested the court to list it for hearing on March 4.
Mallya had left the country by then. Since no relief came forth from DRT or High Court, SBI filed a Special Leave Petition before the Supreme Court on March 8 (5th, 6th and 7th being holidays) seeking reliefs. “After the hearing conducted on March 9, the Supreme Court was pleased to issue notice as is known to all,” it said. Attorney General Mukul Rohtagi later told the Supreme Court that Mallya flew out of India on March 2.
“It has been widely reported in the media that there has been laxity on part of the banks in seeking reliefs against Kingfisher Airlines, its promoters and holding/associated company. As leader of the consortium, we strongly deny the media reports which appear to be based on hearsay and conjecture without any reference to the factual position in the matter,” SBI said.