New Delhi: The Supreme Court Friday sought response from Enforcement Directorate (ED) on a plea filed by beleaguered businessman Vijay Mallya challenging the ongoing proceedings in a Mumbai court to declare him a fugitive economic offender and confiscate his properties.
The apex court, while issuing the notice to the probe agency, however, refused to stay the proceedings on ED’s plea before a special Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court at Mumbai seeking the ‘fugitive’ tag for Mallya under the Fugitive Economic Offenders’ Act, 2018.
Under the provisions of the Act, once a person is declared a fugitive economic offender, the prosecuting agency has the powers to confiscate his property.
“Notice. No stay,” a bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice S K Kaul ordered after hearing senior advocate Fali S Nariman, appearing for Mallya, for few seconds.
Mallya, who fled to the UK in March 2016, is wanted in India over default of Rs 9,000 crore that was loaned to Kingfisher Airlines (KFA) by several banks.
In September, a UK court had fixed December 10 as the date to deliver its verdict on whether he can be extradited to India to face charges of fraud and money laundering amounting to around Rs 9,000 crore.
Mallya had moved the apex court challenging the Bombay High Court order which dismissed his plea seeking a stay on the proceedings before a special PMLA court in Mumbai on ED’s plea to declare him a fugitive economic offender under the new law.
He had filed an application in the lower court seeking a stay on the hearing on the ED’s plea till November 26 when the appellate tribunal functioning under the PMLA would hear matters filed by a consortium of banks seeking their dues back.
The special court had on October 30 rejected Mallya’s application, following which the liquor baron had approached the high court.
Mallya had then approached the high court saying that his pleas should not be misunderstood as a ploy to run away from the proceedings and had reiterated that he wanted to pay back dues to banks.
The high court, however, had dismissed Mallya’s plea.
“The application has been filed at the threshold and at a very premature stage when the lower court is still hearing the prosecuting agency’s request to declare him (Mallya) a fugitive economic offender,” the high court had said, making it clear that the special PMLA court would continue with the pending proceedings against Mallya on merits. —PTI