New Delhi: The lawyer of fugitive businessman Vijay Mallya on Thursday told the Supreme Court that he was not receiving any communication from him and sought to be discharged from the case as a counsel.
A bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud and Hima Kohli allowed the discharge of advocate E C Agrawala from the case and asked him to furnish the e-mail ID of the liquor baron along with his present residential address in the United Kingdom to the apex court registry.
“Counsel seeking discharge the case because in spite of communication from his end, no instruction is forthcoming,” the bench said and asked the lawyer to follow the process of discharge.
Agrawala told the top court, “I want to be discharged from this matter as I am not receiving any instructions from my client. I am not able to establish contact with him. He is incommunicado for a long time.”
The top court discharged the lawyer from the two petitions filed by Mallya against the October 5, 2018 and September 13, 2019 orders of the Karnataka High Court directing him to pay Rs 3,101 crore to a consortium of banks.
In a separate case, on July 11, the top court had sentenced Mallya to four months in jail for contempt of court, and directed the Centre to secure the presence of the fugitive businessman who has been in the UK since 2016 to undergo the imprisonment.
The top court had said Mallya, 66, never showed any remorse nor tendered any apology for his conduct and adequate punishment must be imposed to maintain the majesty of the law.
The top court had also imposed a fine of Rs 2,000 on Mallya, who was held guilty of committing contempt of court by the top court on May 9, 2017, for transferring USD 40 million to his children in violation of court orders.
According to the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, a person may be punished with simple imprisonment of up to six months, or with a fine up to Rs 2,000, or both for contempt of court.
The top court had directed that Mallya and the beneficiaries under the said transactions relating to USD 40 million shall be bound to deposit the amount received along with interest at the rate of eight per cent per annum with the recovery officer concerned within four weeks.
It had said in case the amount is not deposited, the recovery officer concerned shall be entitled to take appropriate proceedings for recovery of money and the Government of India and all agencies concerned shall extend assistance and complete cooperation.
The top court had said that the fine shall be deposited in the apex court registry within four weeks and upon such deposit the amount shall be handed over to the Supreme Court Legal Services Committee.
It said in case the fine amount of Rs 2,000 is not deposited within the stipulated time, Mallya shall undergo a further sentence of two months.
The apex court said in spite of repeated opportunities afforded to Mallya, no submissions were advanced on his behalf either on the purging of contempt or on the quantum of punishment.
The transactions referred to in the judgement and order dated May 9, 2017 in terms of which the amount of USD 40 million was disbursed to the beneficiaries are held to be “void and inoperative”, the court had said.
It had noted that in its May 9, 2017 verdict, the apex court had found that the action on part of Mallya in disbursing the amount of USD 40 Million was against the “text and tenor” of orders passed by the Karnataka High Court and that the contemnor was guilty of contempt.
It had said the Government of India, including the Ministry of External Affairs and all other agencies or instrumentalities, shall carry out the directions issued by the court with due diligence and utmost expediency.
Mallya is an accused in a bank loan default matter of over Rs 9,000 crore involving his defunct Kingfisher Airlines.
The apex court had in 2020 dismissed Mallya’s plea seeking a review of the May 2017 verdict.
Mallya has been living in the United Kingdom since March 2016. He is on bail on an extradition warrant executed by Scotland Yard on April 18, 2017.
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 the loan which was then over Rs 9,000 crore.
Separately, Mallya has also challenged Karnataka High Court orders of October 5, 2018 and September 13, 2019.
The orders upheld the decision of the Debts Recovery Appellate Tribunal (DRAT), Bangalore to deposit Rs 3,101 crore as a precondition to hearing his appeal against a Debt Recovery Tribunal (DRT) order.
The DRT Bangalore had on January 19, 2017 directed Mallya to pay Rs 6,203 crore with interest to a consortium of banks led by State Bank of India, who had lent money for now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines.
Mallya challenged the order in 2018 before the DRAT, which dismissed the appeal for want of appearance and non-compliance of objections.
He again moved DRAT and filed an application seeking restoration of his appeal.
The DRAT, on March 28, 2018, directed Mallya to deposit Rs 3,101 crore on or before April 25, 2018 and observed that in case of failure in compliance, the appeal will be liable to be dismissed automatically.
Mallya then challenged the March 28, 2018 order before the High Court, which dismissed his appeal on October 5, 2018 and subsequently he knocked the door of the apex court.