A city court is likely to pass its orders on October 30 on a plea filed by businessman Vijay Mallya, seeking a stay on the proceedings initiated by the ED to declare him a Fugitive Economic Offender (FEO).
The special court heard extensive arguments on Friday from Mallya’s lawyer as well as the Enforcement Directorate (ED) counsel before reserving its order for October 30.
The ED has sought that Mallya, who is currently in the UK, be declared an FEO and his properties be confiscated and brought under the control of the Union government as per provisions of the new FEO Act.
Mallya’s counsel Amit Desai, however, urged the court, set up under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), to refrain from hearing the ED’s plea at least till November 26.
Desai told the court that earlier this month, the appellate tribunal against money laundering had directed the ED to maintain status quo with regard to properties of the beleaguered businessman till November 26, the next date of hearing before the tribunal.
“Passing any orders declaring Mallya an FEO under the new central legislation will automatically bring his properties under the Centre’s control,” Desai said.
“Irrespective of whether or not, this court then orders for the attachment of such properties, merely declaring Mallya as an FEO will mean that this court’s order will be in conflict with that of the tribunal’s,” he added.
He also argued that attaching Mallya’s properties under the new Act would deprive his creditors of any chance to ensure that his assets are sold and their proceeds used to recover the money they had lost.
Desai said Mallya was keen on ensuring that the creditors were paid off and that his former employees, too, received their pending salaries and dues.
The ED, represented by advocate D P Singh, however, told the court that Desai’s arguments were aimed only at ensuring that Mallya did not have to face any proceedings before any court in India.
“He has no intention of repaying anyone, or, of ever coming back to India. He is using the pending extradition proceedings and his bail conditions imposed by an English court as mere excuses to avoid coming back to India,” Singh said.
“Declaring him an FEO is the only way to bring him back,” he said.
The ED counsel argued the court could first declare Mallya an FEO and then wait for the tribunal’s proceedings before acting upon the agency’s plea for confiscation of the embattled liquor tycoon’s properties and assets.
Mallya, accused of defaulting on loan repayments and money laundering, left India in March 2016.
The 62-year-old former Kingfisher Airline boss is fighting extradition to India on charges of fraud and money laundering.