The Supreme Court has also imposed a Rs 2,000 fine on Vijay Mallya, who was accused of violating court orders in 2017.

Vijay MallyaFile image: PTI/ Financial Times
Money Court Monday, July 11, 2022 - 11:35

The Supreme Court on Monday, July 11, awarded a four-month sentence to fugitive businessman Vijay Mallya, accused in bank loan default case of over Rs 9,000 crore involving his defunct Kingfisher Airlines, in a contempt case. The bench, headed by Justice UU Lalit, also imposed a fine of Rs 2,000 on Mallya.

The top court had on March 10 reserved its order in the matter, observing that proceedings against Mallya had hit a "dead wall". Mallya's counsel had on March 10 told the bench that he was handicapped in the absence of any instruction from his client, who is in the United Kingdom, and would not be able to argue on the quantum of sentence to be awarded in the contempt case. "We have been told that there are some proceedings going on in the United Kingdom. It is like a dead wall, something is pending we do not know. What is the number (of cases) we do not know. The point is how long can we go on like this so far as our jurisdictional power is concerned," the top court had orally observed.

Observing that it had waited "sufficiently long", the apex court on February 10 had fixed the contempt case against Mallya for hearing and had given him the last opportunity to appear before it either personally or through his lawyer. The top court had said it has given multiple opportunities to Mallya to appear either personally or through a lawyer and had even given specific directions in its order dated November 30, 2021.

Earlier, a consortium of lending banks led by State Bank of India had moved the apex court alleging that Mallya was not following the court orders on repayment of loan, which was then over Rs 9,000 crore. It was alleged that he was not disclosing his assets and moreover, transferring them to his children in violation of the restraint orders.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Union government, had earlier said that the court has inherent jurisdiction in contempt cases, and that it has given enough opportunity to Mallya, which he had not taken. On November 30 last year, the top court had said it could not wait any longer, and the sentencing aspect in the contempt matter against Mallya would be dealt with finally.

Mallya was held guilty of contempt in 2017, and the matter was thereafter to be listed to hear him on the proposed punishment to be awarded to him. The top court had in 2020 dismissed Mallya's plea seeking review of the 2017 verdict, which held him guilty of contempt for transferring USD 40 million to his children in violation of court orders.

The apex court had noted that as per an office memorandum, under the signature of the deputy secretary (extradition) of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), the proceedings for extradition have attained finality and Mallya has "exhausted all avenues for appeal" in the UK.

Mallya has been in the UK since March 2016. He is on bail on an extradition warrant executed by the Scotland Yard on April 18, 2017.

Become a TNM Member for just Rs 999!
You can also support us with a one-time payment.