The Supreme Court Tuesday said it proposes to go ahead with the contempt matter involving fugitive businessman Vijay Mallya, who has accused in a bank loan default case of over Rs 9,000 crore involving his defunct Kingfisher Airlines and list it for hearing on sentencing.
The apex court had earlier dismissed his plea seeking review of its 2017 verdict which held him guilty of contempt for transferring USD 40 million to his children in violations of the court orders.
On January 18 this year, the Centre told the top court that the government is making all efforts to extradite Mallya from the United Kingdom but the process is being delayed due to some legal issues involved in the matter.
The matter about contempt against Mallya came up for hearing on Tuesday before a bench comprising Justices U U Lalit, SR Bhat, and Bela M Trivedi.
“What we propose to pass an order that we will list the matter for hearing on sentence because the advocate (for Mallya) continues to appear. So, therefore, there is no embargo on hearing the advocate on sentence. We will go ahead with that,” the bench said.
Advocate Rajat Nair, appearing for the Centre, told the bench that he is being led by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who is arguing before another court.
“He (Mehta) has the instruction. He has already spoken to the concerned authorities in the MEA (Ministry of External Affairs). If this matter can be taken up tomorrow or the day after, he will make submissions,” Nair told the apex court.
The bench said it would take up the matter for hearing at 2 PM during the day.
“Ask the Solicitor General, in case he is free, please come here. In case, there are any written instructions or any communications, then please give us the copies of that,” the bench told Nair.
On January 18, Mehta had sought some time to file a report on the status of the extradition of Mallya. The MEA has raised the issue of extradition with the UK government and the Centre was making all serious efforts to extradite Mallya, he had said. He had also shared a letter of the Ministry of External Affairs’ official written to him on the status of extradition of Mallya from the United Kingdom.
Mallya, an accused in a bank loan default case of over Rs 9,000 crore involving his defunct Kingfisher Airlines, is in the UK since March 2016. He is on bail on an extradition warrant executed three years ago by Scotland Yard on April 18, 2017.
On November 2, last year, the top court had asked the Centre to file a status report in six weeks on the confidential legal proceedings pending in the UK on the extradition of Mallya to India. The Centre had on October 5 last year told the apex court that Mallya cannot be extradited to India until a separate “secret” legal process in the UK, which is “judicial and confidential in nature is resolved”. The Centre had in October last year said it is not aware of the secret ongoing proceedings against Mallya in the UK as the Government of India is not a party to the process.
The government had earlier informed the apex court in the contempt case that the pending legal issue in the UK is “outside and apart from the extradition process” and is “confidential and cannot be disclosed”.
The top court had in October 2020 asked Mallya’s lawyer to apprise the apex court by November 2 last year what kind of ”secret” proceedings are going on to extradite him. The Centre had given details of the extradition proceedings against Mallya starting from February 9, 2017, till the dismissal of his appeal against extradition in the UK on May 14 last year and said that the fugitive businessman has thus exhausted all avenues of appeal in the United Kingdom. The Centre had said that following the refusal of leave to appeal, Mallya’s surrender to India should, in principle, have been completed within 28 days but “the UK home office intimated that there is a further legal issue which needs to be resolved before Vijay Mallya’s extradition may take place”.