Liqour baron Vijay Mallya had gone abroad, the United Kingdom, on the day the banks moved the Debt Recovery Tribunal (DRT) on 2 March (Tuesday). This came to light on 9 March.
Thirteen banks, led by State Bank of India (SBI), represented by attorney-general Mukul Rohatgi and advocate Robin Ratnakar David, told Justices Kurian Joseph and Rohinton Nariman that the CBI had told them about Mallya’s departure.
A day earlier, the banks moved the court to order Mallya not to leave the country. But that was not to be. Chief Justice of India TS Thakur fixed hearing of the plea on 2 March, the day Mallya had left the country. Rohatgi told the court that Mallya has several assets abroad. What he has in India is but a fraction of them. A rough estimate finds that Mallya has more than Rs 7,000 crore of wealth abroad, he added.
He said those movable and immovable assets were far more than what Mallya had taken from the banks—Rs 9,000 crore. According to media reports, the banks had moved the court late as Mallya had left India and, as per reports, also pocketed the 40 million of the severance package from Diageo.
The Bench issued notice to Mallya through his company United Breweries (Holdings) Ltd, his counsel, the Indian High Commissioner at the UK and through his Rajya Sabha email address and sought a reply from him in two weeks and fixed the hearing for 30 March.
The banks moved the Supreme Court after the Karnataka High Court refused to pass an ex parte order against Mallya, the UK-based Diageo Plc and United Spirits Ltd. The banks also filed four pleas before the DRT in Bengaluru seeking freezing of Mallya’s passport and issuance of an arrest warrant and the like.