NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday sentenced fugitive businessman Vijay Mallya to four months jail term and imposed a fine of Rs 2000 on him. Mallya was found guilty of contempt of court in 2017 for withholding information from it. The court also directed Mallya to return USD 40 million with interest within four weeks failure of which would lead to the seizure of his properties.
The court also imposed a fine of Rs 2000 on Mallya. Earlier on July 9, the apex court, during the hearing, had noted that Mallya behaves like "a free person" in the United Kingdom and no information was forthcoming about the proceedings concerning Mallya there.
Amicus curiae, senior advocate Jaideep Gupta, assisting the bench in the case had submitted that Mallya was held guilty on two counts - for not disclosing assets and violating expressive orders of restraint passed by the Karnataka High Court. Last year, the top court while saying that it has waited "long enough" and cannot "wait longer now" for Mallya to get extradited from the United Kingdom to India, decided to go ahead with the hearing on the quantum of punishment in the contempt case against him.
The top court had held Mallya guilty of contempt of court for transferring USD 40 million to his children in violation of the court's order and sought his presence before it on various occasions. On February 10, the Supreme Court granted the last opportunity of two weeks for Mallya to personally present or through counsel in the contempt case against him and if he fails to do so the court will take the matter to the logical conclusion.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta appearing for the Ministry of External Affairs clarified that it's not the Government of India's stand that something confidential is going on in the case in the United Kingdom but it is what the government has been informed by the UK that there is something going on which can't be shared. Earlier, Mehta had furnished a document of Deputy Secretary (Extradition) Ministry of External Affairs, to which the bench had said the proceedings for extradition of Mallya to India from the United Kingdom has attained finality but certain "confidential proceedings" are pending in the UK, details of which are not known.
The Centre had also said that Mallya has already exhausted all his avenues of appeal in the UK. Previously the Centre had informed the top court that legal complexities in the United Kingdom are preventing the extradition of fugitive Mallya, but the government of India is making all efforts and doing its best to extradite him.
The apex court had dismissed a plea filed by Mallya seeking a review of its May 2017 order holding him guilty of contempt. Mallya is accused of a bank loan default case of over Rs 9,000 crore involving his defunct Kingfisher Airlines and is presently in the United Kingdom.
The Supreme Court had issued its May 9, 2017, order on a plea by a consortium of banks led by the State Bank of India (SBI), claiming he had allegedly transferred USD 40 million received from British firm Diageo to his children in "flagrant violation" of various judicial orders. Earlier, the apex court had asked Mallya about the "truthfulness" of his disclosure of assets and the transfer of money to his children.
At that time, the top court was dealing with pleas of lending banks seeking contempt action and a direction to Mallya to deposit USD 40 million received from offshore firm Diageo to the banks respectively. The banks had then accused Mallya of concealing the facts and diverted the money to his son Siddharth Mallya and daughters Leanna Mallya and Tanya Mallya in flagrant violation of the orders passed by the Karnataka High Court.