PSU banks ask SC to prevent Mallya from leaving India

RSTV Bureau
File photo of Vijay Mallya. (PTI)

File photo of Vijay Mallya. (PTI)

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a plea filed by a consortium of 17 PSU banks including SBI that want the court to stop industrialist Vijay Mallya from leaving the country. The apex court has agreed to hear the plea on Wednesday.

“List it for hearing tomorrow,” a bench comprising Chief Justice T S Thakur and Justice U U Lalit said, when Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for PSU banks, mentioned the matter for urgent hearing.

Rohatgi said that the plea has been moved by 17 banks, including State Bank of India, against Mallya whose various firms have taken loan from them.

Mallya’s dues run into thousands of crores, Rohatgi added.

On Monday Mallya received a double blow from the Enforcement Directorate and the Debt Recovery Tribunal (DRT).

The ED registered registered a money laundering case against him in connection with the alleged default of over Rs 900 crore loan from IDBI bank. ED’s case is based on an FIR registered last year by CBI in the same case. Sources say Mallya will soon be questioned as the agency has collected relevant evidence against him.

The DRT order barred Mallya from accessing Rs 515 crore ($75 mn) severance pay from Diageo till the loan default case with SBI was settled.

Diageo and United Spirits Ltd, owned by the UK-based firm, have also been restrained by DRT Judge Benakanahalli in Bengaluru from temporarily disbursing the USD 75 million amount to Mallya, who worked out the deal under a severance package.

The tribunal ordered that the amount be attached till the disposal of the original application filed by State Bank of India in 2013 in connection with Kingfisher Airlines’ loan default case.

In his order on the plea by the SBI application seeking the lenders’ first right on the USD 75-million sweetheart deal, the judge also directed disclosure of details of the agreement which they have arrived at.

SBI, which leads the consortium of 17 banks that lent money to the grounded Kingfisher Airlines, had moved DRT in Bengaluru against Mallya in its bid to recover over Rs 7,000 crore of dues from him.

The state-owned top lender had filed three other applications, including one seeking Mallya’s arrest and impounding of his passport, which the judge had said on March 4 would be heard later.

Mallya had to quit recently as chairman of United Spirits, a company founded by his family in which he sold majority stake to Diageo.

Last week, Mallya had said he is making efforts to reach a ‘one-time settlement’ with banks through additional payments to the lenders, even as he denied “personally” being a “borrower or judgement defaulter” and alleged that a “disinformation campaign” was being played to make him a “poster boy” of all bad loans.

(With inputs from PTI)