New Delhi: With industrialist Vijay Mallya having left for London on March 2, the day public sector banks, to whom he owed over Rs.9,000 crore in loans, moved the Debt Recovery Tribunal (DRT) against him, the Supreme Court on Wednesday wondered as to what could be done to secure his presence and recover the outstanding loans.
And even as the Attorney General (AG) Mukul Rohatgi informed a Bench of Justices Kurian Joseph and Rohinton Nariman that Mallya had left the country, the bench told the AG “there seems to be very little left for us.”
At the outset, Rohatgi, appearing for a consortium of banks, submitted that he had asked the CBI a few minutes ago about Mallya, and had been informed that the Rajya Sabha MP had left India on March 2, prompting Justice Nariman to observe “there seems to be very little left for us”.
Rohatgi wanted the bench to pass an order directing Mallya to appear before this court with his passport. “We are not after his blood. We want to sit across him and get back our money. We want to settle the loans.” The AG said the “only information is on social media sites, which show that most of his assets are abroad. Only a fraction is in India, may be one-fifth.”
When Justice Kurian Joseph wondered as to how the banks gave loans without adequate security, the AG replied that at the time of the loans, Kingfisher Airlines was a brand which was at its peak which had assets worth thousands of crores of rupees and then it crashed. Loans are advanced for the brand value and even for the logo.
The AG said over Rs.9,000 crore was due from Mallya to various banks, and that he’d avoided settling the dues over some pretext or other. There have been proceedings going on against him in debt recovery tribunals in Goa and Bengaluru. He also said there was a need for proper disclosure of assets on behalf of Mallya.
The bench accepted the request of AG to serve the notice through the Indian High Commission in London, through his official Rajya Sabha email ID, through his counsel representing him in the Karnataka High Court, and through his company United Breweries Holdings Ltd. The bench sought his reply in two weeks and posted the matter for March 30 to decide on the next course of action.
The consortium of banks had initially approached the DRT for the arrest of Mallya. But the DRT had only issued a garnishee order preventing the London-based Diageo PLC from transferring any money to Mallya for the time being. He received a $75 million payout for selling United Spirits to Diageo. The Karnataka High Court had also declined to issue an order to arrest.