New Delhi: Vijay Mallya wants to return to India but he is “incapacitated” to travel despite his “best intentions” as his passport has been revoked by the Indian authorities, the liquor baron’s counsel told a city court today.
Mallya, who is currently in London, made the submission through his counsel before Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Sumit Dass in a case lodged against him for allegedly evading summons in a FERA violation matter, adding he was “making all efforts to have the revocation of passport set aside.”
On July 9, the court had cancelled the exemption from personal appearance granted to him and directed him to appear before it today.
The counsel moved an application before the court seeking exemption for Mallya from personal appearance for today and submitted the copy of an email sent by the him to his lawyer.
“I request you (counsel) to kindly convey to the judge that I have the utmost respect for his authority and towards the judicial system of the country, in general.
“However, in the given circumstances, despite my best intentions to obey the order of the judge, I find myself incapacitated to travel to India, at this moment; even though I am making all the efforts to have the said revocation of my passport set aside,” Mallya’s email read.
In the plea seeking exemption from personal appearance for Mallya, senior advocate Ramesh Gupta said “it is humbly submitted before this court that on April 15, to the utter shock and surprise of the present accused (Mallya), his passport came to be suspended by the Indian Passport Authority.”
“Thereafter, on April 23, without even affording a personal hearing, which was duly requested, his Passport was revoked by the said authority,” the application claimed.
It further claimed that “ever since the revocation of his Passport, the present accused has been staying in London and is not in possession of any requisite Travel Document, which could possibly enable him to travel to India.”
Advocate N K Matta, appearing for Enforcement Directorate (ED), however, told the court that Mallya was evading proceedings in several other cases and sought time to reply to the plea moved by him today.
Court has now put up the matter for further proceedings on October 4 while seeking ED’s response on Mallya’s exemption application by next date of hearing.
The exemption from personal appearance to Mallya was
granted in December 2000 on ED’s complaint for evading summons issued by it.
The agency had issued summons to the businessman in connection with alleged payment of 200,000 dollars to a British firm for displaying Kingfisher logo in Formula One World Championships in London and some European countries in 1996, 1997 and 1998.
It had claimed that the money was allegedly paid without prior approval from RBI in violation of FERA norms.
In its plea against Mallya filed through prosecutor N K Matta, ED had 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, which is at its final stage.
The agency’s plea had said Mallya was reported to be in the United Kingdom and his presence in the trial was essential. It had also sought court’s direction to him to remain personally present in every hearing.
Matta had argued that the court should recall its December 2000 exemption order, as a PMLA court in Mumbai has recently issued an open-ended warrant against him in connection with a money laundering case.
According to ED, 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 charges were framed against him under FERA.