The Supreme Court today sentenced fugitive liquor baron Vijay Mallya to four months in jail and imposed a fine of Rs 2,000 on him for a 2017 contempt of court case. He was convicted of contempt in 2017 over transferring $40 million to his children in violation of court orders. The fine is to be deposited within four weeks to the Supreme Court legal services authority, failing which a further sentence of two months will be added, the court said.
“To uphold the majesty of justice, we must impose adequate punishment,” judges said.
The country’s top court also said that the transaction of 40 million dollars by Vijay Mallya to his children is “void and inoperable”, ordering the recipients to return the amount with 8% interest to the recovery officer within four weeks. If the amount is not returned, Vijay Mallya’s properties can be attached.
“If this is not deposited, the recovery officer can take appropriate actions for recovery of the said amount and the government of India and all agencies should assist in that process,” the court order said.
A bench of Justices UU Lalit, S Ravindra Bhat and PS Narasimha passed the order.
A plea by a consortium of banks led by the State Bank of India (SBI) sought contempt action and a direction to Vijay Mallya to deposit $40 million received from offshore firm Diageo.
Banks had alleged that Vijay Mallya concealed the facts and diverted the money to his son Siddharth Mallya and daughters Leanna Mallya and Tanya Mallya in “flagrant violation” of the orders passed by the Karnataka High Court
Vijay Mallya is an accused in a bank loan default case of over Rs 9,000 crore involving his now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines.
The Supreme Court had reserved its orders on the sentence on March 10.
Vijay Mallya was held guilty on two counts – of not disclosing assets and violating expressive orders of restraint passed by the Karnataka High Court. He has been in the UK since March 2016.
The hearing had taken place in the absence of Vijay Mallya who fled to the United Kingdom.
The Centre had earlier informed the court that though extradition of Vijay Mallya from the UK has been allowed, he could not be brought to India in view of some “secret” proceedings pending against him there, the details of which are not known to the Centre.
The court had deferred the hearing a few times to give Vijay Mallya an opportunity to appear but had ultimately decided to proceed in his absence in light of his refusal to appear.
Senior Advocate Jaideep Gupta was appointed as an amicus curiae (friend of the court) in the case to assist the court in the ‘in absentia’ hearing