news Monday, July 13, 2015 - 05:30
The Supreme Court on Monday soundly told off UB group chairman Vijay Mallya for “sheer abuse of the process of law” while quashing his plea which sought the dismissal of a case pertaining to a violation of foreign exchange rules. The case dates back to the mid-1990s, when Mallya was in the dock after the Enforcement Directorate alleged that he had violated the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act (FERA) while advertising his products overseas. The ED had wanted to question Mallya with respect to a contract signed with British Formula One manufacturer Bennetton to advertise the Kingfisher brand abroad in December 1995. Mally had allegedly paid 200,000 dollars to the firm. Mallya approached the Delhi High Court seeking dismissal of the ED’s proceedings against him in the trial court, for alleged “wilful” disobedience to repeated summons issued by the ED. The Delhi Court had turned down his appeal, after which Mallya approached the Supreme Court, which then issued a notice to the ED. While hearing the case on Monday, a bench of judges headed by Justice J S Khehar quashed Mallya’s plea, and fined him Rs 10 lakh, and also had quite a bit to say about the 59-year-old businessman’s attitude. When the ED issued a summons to Mallya on November 8, 1999, this is how he responded on November 22 that year: "As you will appreciate, I am the Chairman of several public Companies both in India as well as in the USA and, therefore, my schedule is finalized several months in advance. During the fiscal year end period, the problem only gets compounded. I would, therefore, request you to excuse me from the personal appearance on November 26, 1999 as I will be out of India. I am willing to fix a mutually convenient date to appear before you." The SC did not take too kindly to the “tenor” of Mallya’s letter, and said on Monday: "From the tenor of the letter, it appears that it was not a case of mere seeking accommodation by the appellant (Mallya) but requiring date to be fixed by his convenience. Such stand by a person facing allegation of serious nature could hardly be appreciated. Obviously, the enormous money power makes him believe that the State should adjust its affairs to suit his commercial convenience," said the SC The SC bench was not amused with the “merit” of Mallya’s plea either and finally stated that on the basis of arguments made previously, “we do not see any merit in the appeal”. "We are also of the opinion that the entire approach adopted by the appellant (Mallya) is a sheer abuse of the process of law. Any other view of the matter would only go to once again establishing the notorious truth stated by Anatole France that – "the law in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets and to steal bread"."
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