New Delhi :
Liquor baron Vijay Mallya today sought dismissal of Enforcement Department’s (ED) plea for withdrawal of an exemption granted to him from personal appearance by a Delhi court in a case lodged for allegedly evading summons in connection with FERA violation case.
Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Sumit Dass fixed the matter for further hearing on Mallya’s reply to ED’s plea, which was filed through his counsel.
The court had in December 2000, allowed Mallya’s plea seeking permanent exemption from personal appearance.
In his reply, the businessman submitted that “his physical appearance is not required at the stage of final arguments since a duly authorised counsel on his behalf has been appearing before the court on each date of hearing.”
“Accused has diligently complied with all the directions of this court. It is also evident from the record that there is neither any allegation against the accused for violating the directions of this court nor any misuse of the liberty granted by this court at any stage of trial.
“Therefore, the application filed by the complainant (ED) seeking physical appearance of the accused is completely misplaced, untenable and unsustainable in the eyes of law,” the reply said.
The court had issued notice to Mallya on ED’s plea which has also sought issuance of non-bailable warrant against the Chairman of the now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines to secure his presence in the ongoing trial of the case.
The court, on the last hearing, had asked the accused to file a “proper reply” to ED’s plea after noting that the reply filed by Mallya, through his lawyer, did not bear the former MP’s signatures.
ED’s application, filed through prosecutor N K Matta, has requested the court to direct the accused for his physical appearance in the case which is at its final stage.
The agency has urged the court to “withdraw the exemption given from personal appearance of the accused and to issue non-bailable warrant to secure the presence of the accused in the ongoing trial”.
Earlier, Matta had argued that the court should recall its December 2000 order by which Mallya was granted permanent exemption from personal appearance as a PMLA court in Mumbai has recently issued an open-ended warrant against Mallya in connection with a money laundering case.
In this case, ED had alleged that Mallya had violated the provisions of Foreign Exchange Regulation Act (FERA) in arranging funds to advertise his company’s liquor products abroad.
ED had claimed that Mallya was summoned on four occasions for questioning in connection with a contract signed in December 1995 with London-based firm Benetton Formula Ltd for promotion of the Kingfisher brand abroad.
When Mallya failed to appear before ED in response to the summons, a complaint was filed on March 8, 2000 before a court here and later on charges were framed against him under FERA.
According to ED, Mallya had allegedly paid 200,000 dollars to the British firm for displaying Kingfisher logo in Formula One World Championships in London and some European countries in 1996, 1997 and 1998.
The agency had claimed that the money was allegedly paid without prior approval from RBI in violation of FERA norms.