The Bombay High Court on Thursday dismissed a plea of beleaguered liquor baron Vijay Mallya, seeking a stay on the procedure for the confiscation of his properties by the government agencies.
In his appeal, Mallya had requested that any order passed by the trial court on the confiscation of his property be subject to the final decision the High Court which is hearing the Fugitive Economic Offenders case that has been pending against him. However, the division bench of Justice Akhil Kureshi and Justice SJ Kathawalla did not grant any interim relief on the plea.
The now defunct Kingfisher Airlines owner, who is currently in the UK, is wanted for a willful default of more than Rs 9,000 crore of loan from a number of banks in India. He is facing a number of charges of money laundering, fraud, and violation of the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA).
In two separate petitions, being heard by a division bench of Justice Indrajit Mahanty and Justice AM Badar, Mallya has challenged the constitutional validity of the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act and the special court’s order declaring him a fugitive. The special court had held that the overall conduct of Mallya suggest his refusal to return back to India to face criminal prosecution, while declaring him fugitive on January 5, this year.
During the hearing of the recent appeal, Mallya’s counsel, Amit Desai argued that the FEO Act was “draconian” as it permitted the government to confiscate everything, without looking at whether a property was bought through the proceeds of a crime or not. His pleas were opposed by Enforcement Directorate’s (ED) counsel D P Singh, who in his counter argument said that Act was not draconian.
It is worth mentioning that Vijay Mallya was the first person to be declared a fugitive economic offender under the newly enacted Fugitive Economic Offenders Act, 2018.
A fugitive economic offender is a person against whom an arrest warrant has been issued for his or her involvement in economic offences involving at least Rs. 100 crore or more and has left India to avoid prosecution.