The noose around liquor baron Vijay Mallya tightened on Thursday after a Delhi court declared him a proclaimed offender for evading summons ina Foreign Exchange Regulation Act (FERA) case. The court had on April 12 last year issued an open-ended non-bailable warrant against the liquor baron, but Mallya, who is believed to be in the UK and is facing an extradition trial, ignored repeated summonses.
“In view that Vijay Mallya failed to appear before this court within 30 days, and no representation was made on his behalf, he is declared as a proclaimed offender,” PTI quoted Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Deepak Shehrawat as saying.
The FERA case pertains to alleged payment of $200,000 to a British firm for displaying Kingfisher logo during the Formula One World Championships in London and some European countries in 1996, 1997 and 1998. The ED said the money was allegedly paid without the approval of RBI.
In its plea against Mallya, the ED had also sought issuance of non-bailable warrant against the chairman of the now defunct Kingfisher Airlines to ensure his presence in the ongoing trial of the case, which is at the final stage.
On November 4, 2016, while issuing NBW against Mallya, the court had observed that Mallya had no inclination to return and had “scant regard” for the law of the land. It had said that coercive process has to be initiated against Mallya as he was facing proceedings in several cases and evading appearance in those matters. The court had also held that Mallya’s plea, that he wanted to return to India but was “incapacitated” to travel as his passport had been revoked by Indian authorities, was “malafide” and “abuse of the process of law”.
On July 9, the court had cancelled the exemption from personal appearance granted to Mallya on an application of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and directed him to appear before it on September 9. The exemption was granted to Mallya in December 2000.
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 the 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.