Businessman Vijay Mallya’s plea to seek a stay on a request made by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to declare him a fugitive economic offender and confiscate his properties, was dismissed by the Bombay High Court on Thursday. The embattled liquor tycoon faced a setback on Wednesday in his battle to save his posh London home from foreclosure by Swiss bank UBS.
The application was earlier filed by the ED before a special Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court to seek the ‘fugitive’ tag for Mallya under the Fugitive Economic Offenders’ Act, 2018.
The Act provisions the prosecuting agency the powers to confiscate the accused person’s properties if the person is declared a fugitive economic offender.
Mallya had filed an application in the lower court seeking a stay on the hearing on the ED's plea till November 26 when the appellate tribunal functioning under the PMLA would hear matters filed by a consortium of banks seeking their dues back.
However, the special court rejected Mallya’s appeal on October 30, owing to which the businessman approached the high court.
Mallya’s counsel Amit Desai on Thursday assured a division bench of Justices R M Savant and V K Jadhav to not misunderstand his pleas as a ploy to run away from the proceedings.
"We are also anxious to clear the dues and to see to it that the creditors get their dues back. We only do not want the properties to be seized by the Enforcement Directorate, which would then hamper the process of clearance of dues," Desai said.
Despite the pleas, the high court said it was not inclined to permit any relief. The court said in its order that the application has been filed at the threshold and at a very premature stage when the lower court is still hearing the prosecuting agency’s request to declare Mallya a fugitive economic offender.
The bench dismissed Mallya’s plea on the grounds that the lower court shall hear the application filed by the ED on merits.
In separate legal proceedings, the liquor baron had also lost his appeal in the UK’s Court of Appeal against a High Court order in favour of 13 Indian banks to recover funds amounting to nearly 1.145 billion pounds.
The High Court order, earlier this year, in favour of the State Bank of India (SBI) led consortium had reinforced a worldwide freezing order against Mallya’s assets.