The Supreme Court on Tuesday held absconding liquor baron Vijay Mallya guilty of contempt of court for allegedly transferring $40 million to his children in violation of court orders and asked him to appear before it.
Holding him guilty, a bench of Justices A K Goel and U U Lalit set July 10 as the date for his appearance before it. The court will then fix the quantum of punishment to be given to him.
The order came on a plea by a consortium of banks led by the SBI. Appearing for the banks, Attorney-General Mukul Rohtagi contended that the industrialist who had fled to the UK last year had “taken the top court for a ride”. The Centre, he said, was taking action to bring him back and added that Mallya “had not made an honest disclosure regarding the $40 million”.
The apex court had issued a notice to Mallya in March 2016 on a plea by the banks to recover Rs 9,000 crore owed by the baron. He had, however, fled the country by the time the Supreme Court took up the case.
He was arrested by British authorities in connection with the loan default case and released within hours on bail by a court in London.
According to the Enforcement Directorate, Mallya had received $40 million shortly before he fled India from London-based liquor major Diageo Plc.
In an affidavit before the court, the liquor baron’s counsel said the money was transferred to his three children who were US citizens and sole beneficiaries of three trusts over which he had no control in his individual capacity.
Mallya’s counsel argued that his client was being unfairly targeted by the government even after more that Rs 10,000 crore worth of his properties were attached.