Vijay Mallya on Wednesday told the Bombay High court that by allowing central government to attach all his property, after declaring him a Fugitive Economic Offender (FEO), is like awarding him an “economic death penalty”.
In June last year, while the Act was still an Ordinance, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) had moved a plea before the special court seeking declaration of Mallya as a fugitive economic offender. It had also asked that his properties, including those indirectly controlled by him, be confiscated under the Ordinance. Mallya through his petition is challenging the constitutionality of the newly legislated FEO Act.
As an interim relief, Mallya has sought a stay on the proceeding before the special court on confiscation of his property under the FEO Act, to which a division bench of Justice Ranjit More and Justice Bharati Dangre said that it was “not inclined” to granting.
On January 5, this year, the special court had declared Mallya fugitive under the Act. The special court had held that the overall conduct of Mallya suggests his refusal to return of India to face criminal prosecution. Senior counsel Amit Desai for Mallya argued that the need of the hour is to deal with the banks and creditors, they should be given his property and not to the central government by attaching it under FEO Act.
“Once the property is attached, my (Mallya’s) debt still lives, as the property is taken by the central government, which is an economic death penalty,” Desai told court. To this, Justice More said that in such a case, “Let the banks and creditors approach the court”. Desai further said, “The debt will remain on my head forever, the Act is that draconian in nature. Once the property is gone to the government, one doesn’t know what happens next. I have a daily interest meter running. How will I ever recover this and how will I be able to pay it?” Desai also added that they have made an application before special court to sell Mallya’s assets and pay the debts to the banks and creditors. ED counsel D P Singh told the court that the Act is just to bring “Mallya like” people back to the country. The act has been constituted to bring back defaulters who have defaulted amounts of Rs 100 crore and above. He added that the confiscation is subject to court order and then further appeals.