A Delhi court today issued an open ended non-bailable warrant against beleaguered businessman Vijay Mallya in a case of allegedly evading summons in a FERA violation matter.
Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Sumit Dass passed the order after the Enforcement Directorate submitted that non-bailable warrant issued earlier on November 4 last year by the court has not been executed and it needs more time to do so. An 'open-ended NBW' does not carry a time limit for execution unlike 'NBW'.
The court, which put up the matter for next hearing on November 8, however, asked the agency to file a progress report in this regard within two months. On November 4 last year, while issuing non-bailable warrant against Mallya, the court had observed that he had no inclination to return and had scant regard for the law of the land. It had said that coercive process has to be initiated against liquor baron Mallya as he was facing proceedings in several cases and evading appearance in those matters.
The court had also held that Mallya's plea, that he wanted to return to India but was "incapacitated" to travel as his passport had been revoked by Indian authorities, was "malafide" and "abuse of the process of law". The court also said that on October 4 it had specifically noted that he could approach authorities and obtain emergency document to return to India but the situation is that he has not taken any such step. Mallya, who is reportedly in London, had submitted before the court on September 9 that he wanted to come back to India but was "incapacitated" to travel despite "best intentions" as his passport had been revoked.
To this, the ED, on October 4, had told the court that Mallya had no intention to return to India and his passport was revoked due to his own conduct. On July 9, the court had cancelled the exemption from personal appearance granted to Mallya and directed him to appear before it on September 9. 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 USD 200,000 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, ED had also sought issuance of non-bailable warrant against the Chairman of the defunct Kingfisher Airlines to secure his presence in the ongoing trial of the case, which is at the final stage. The agency's plea had said Mallya was reported to be in the United Kingdom and his presence in trial was essential. It had also sought court's direction to him to remain personally present in every hearing. Matta had earlier 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.