A Hyderabad court on Thursday said it will pronounce on May 9 its order on the quantum of sentence for beleaguered industrialist Vijay Mallya, who was convicted in two cheque bounce cases filed against him by GMR Hyderabad International Airport Ltd.
On April 20, the III Special Magistrate Court in Hyderabad had convicted Mallya and others, in connection with bouncing of two cheques of Rs 50 lakhs each under relevant sections of Negotiable Instruments Act and had adjourned for Thursday the matter to pronounce the quantum of punishment, as Mallya, who left the country, was not present in the court.
The matter relates to cheques issued by Kingfisher Airlines Ltd to GMR Hyderabad International Airport Ltd (GHIAL) which operates the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport, towards charges for using the facilities at the airport for its Kingfisher Airlines flights.
During hearing on quantum of sentence, GMR lawyer G Ashok Reddy Thursday insisted that the court pass the sentence against Mallya citing certain provisions of CrPC saying the court has power to impose sentence even in absence of accused.
"It is a known fact that he (Mallya) has fled the country and his passport has been revoked and he has also resigned from the post of Rajya Sabha MP. He has never marked his presence before the court which shows the conduct of the accused," Reddy submitted.
In view of this, there is no point in waiting for the accused (to be heard), he said and argued that this court need not wait for accused presence (for sentence) and sought for awarding maximum sentence of two years and also to impose fine under relevant sections of Negotiable Instruments Act.
After hearing the arguments, the III Special Magistrate Court Judge M Krishna Rao said, "Now, the counsel for complainant submitted that in view of provisions under section 353 CrPC, the court need not wait for hearing the accused before passing sentence and hence, the court has to pass sentence against the accused as per provisions of sub-clause 6 of section 353 CrPC. Hence, for orders on this aspect posted to May 9."
"Warrants against accused are also pending," the judge said.
In a related development, the XVI Special Magistrate Court on Thursday issued fresh NBWs against Mallya and Raghunathan in connection with another complaint filed by GMR over dishonouring of cheque and posted the matter to June 7.
As per the GMR counsel, a total of 17 cases have been filed against Kingfisher Airlines in different courts over outstanding amount of Rs 22.5 crore which it owes to GMR and the cases are in different stages of trial.
GHIAL had in October, 2012, withdrawn a case over "bounced" cheques against Mallya after the airline agreed to pay the outstanding amount due to the airport operator.
However, Kingfisher made only a part of the payment and defaulted on the rest, prompting the airport operator to approach the court.
The Ministry of External Affairs recently suspended Mallya's diplomatic passport for a period of four weeks on the advice of Enforcement Directorate which two days ago obtained an NBW against him from a Mumbai court in a money-laundering case.
The Kingfisher Airlines, promoted by Mallya, has defaulted on repayment of over Rs 9,000 crore of bank loan.