The Supreme Court on Wednesday issued a notice to business tycoon Vijay Mallya, who left the country last week, on a petition by a consortium of 17 banks seeking impounding of his passport. Mallya’s defunct Kingfisher Airlines owes Rs 7,800 crore to a consortium of 17 banks led by SBI. Mallya has been given two weeks to respond and the next hearing is on March 30.
“I am told by the CBI that he has left the country, possibly on March 2,” the government’s top lawyer Mukul Rohatgi told the court.
Mallya has defaulted more than Rs. 9000 crore of loan, though he has properties across the globe whose value is far more than their due, the Attorney-General informed the apex court.
The creditors, led by the State Bank of India, stepped up efforts to recover around Rs. 7,000 crore in debts after Mr Mallya last month resigned as chairman of India’s top spirits company United Spirits, a unit of UK-based Diageo.
Attorney General told the court that Mallya left the country. He told the SC that Mallya’s assets abroad are far in excess of loans taken by him.
The consortium of banks has sought directions for appearance of Mallya in person before apex court and for freezing his passport.
The Supreme Court questioned why loans were given to Mallya when he was a defaulter and was facing proceedings in court of law.
On Tuesday, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley threw his weight behind the lenders, saying each penny lent must be recovered.
“Well, I think it’s not only a legal but a moral obligation that every banking institution in India has to recover the last pie,” Jaitley said.
The banks said that the High Court should have passed an interim order, securing their financial interests.Prior to moving the High Court, the banks had filed four pleas in the Debt Recovery Tribunal (DRT) at Bengaluru seeking reliefs like freezing of Mallya`s passport and arrest warrant against him.