ED in court to declare Mallya proclaimed offender

New Delhi: The Enforcement Directorate today approached a Delhi court seeking to declare beleaguered businessman Vijay Mallya a proclaimed offender in a case of allegedly evading summons in a FERA violation matter.

Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Deepak Shehrawat is likely to take up the matter today itself. Special Public Prosecutor N K Matta, appearing for the ED, told the court that the agency has no other option but to initiate the proceedings to declare Mallya as a proclaimed offender.

The court had on 12 April issued an open-ended non- bailable warrant against the liquor baron. An ‘open-ended NBW’ does not carry a time limit for execution unlike ‘NBW’.

On 4 November last year, while issuing non-bailable warrant against Mallya, the court had observed that he 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 liquor baron 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also held that Mallya’s plea, that he wanted to return to India but was “incapacitated” to travel as his passport had been revoked by Indian authorities, was “malafide” and “abuse of the process of law”.

Mallya, who is reportedly in London, had submitted before the court on 9 September that he wanted to come back to India but was “incapacitated” to travel despite “best intentions” as his passport had been revoked.

On 9 July, the court had cancelled the exemption from personal appearance granted to Mallya and directed him to appear before it on 9 September. The exemption from personal appearance to Mallya was granted in December 2000 on ED’s complaint for evading summons issued by it.

The agency had issued summons to the businessman in connection with alleged payment of USD 200,000 to a British firm for displaying Kingfisher logo in Formula One World Championships in London and some European countries in 1996, 1997 and 1998. It had claimed that the money was allegedly paid without prior approval from the RBI in violation of FERA norms.

In its plea against Mallya, ED had also sought issuance of non-bailable warrant against the Chairman of the defunct Kingfisher Airlines to secure his presence in the ongoing trial of the case, which is at the final stage.

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 promotion of the Kingfisher brand abroad. When Mallya failed to appear before ED in response to the summons, a complaint was filed on 8 March, 2000 before a court here and later charges were framed against him under FERA.

         

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