THE ENFORCEMENT Directorate on Wednesday questioned fugitive businessman Vijay Mallya’s claim that he had left India to attend a meeting in March 2016. While Mallya has claimed that he left the country on March 6, 2016, to raise funds with European entities to make a ‘one-time settlement’ with the consortium of banks which had given loans to Kingfisher Airlines, the ED countered the claim by stating that he had left with a ‘huge cargo’.
“They have nothing to show that he went for the meeting. Have they shown diaries to show any meeting took place? Who goes to attend a meeting with 300 bags?” ED counsel, DP Singh submitted before the court.
Singh further said Mallya was not ‘willing to return’ to India. “The extradition process is proof enough that he is not willing to return. He is fighting not to come to India. Despite summons and three non-bailable warrants issued against him, he has refused to join the probe,” Singh said. On Monday, a court in United Kingdom ordered his extradition to India to stand trial on the charges leveled against him by the CBI and ED. Mallya, who was arrested in UK in October and was released on bail immediately, had contested the plea to extradite him to India. He has 14 days to appeal against the order in a higher court in UK.
The ED counsel further said Mallya had complained about the conditions in jail, where he will be lodged when he returns to India. A video of the prison (Arthur road jail) in Mumbai was submitted to the UK court and it ‘was satisfied with the same’. Singh also said that the UK court had not agreed with the submission made by Mallya that the case against him was ‘politically motivated’. The special court is hearing arguments on the ED plea seeking Mallya to be declared an ‘fugitive economic offender’ under the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act to ensure his presence for the probe. Mallya had claimed that since he was already arrested, released on bail in UK and was adhering to the conditions put forth by the UK court, he cannot be called a ‘fugitive’.
The ED, however, said that Mallya had not shown his willingness to come by contesting the extradition proceedings.