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Vijay Mallya can’t be declared a fugitive, was held in UK: Lawyers

In June, the enforcement directorate had filed plea to declare businessman a fugitive economic offender

mumbai Updated: Nov 30, 2018 23:31 IST
Farhan Shaikh
Farhan Shaikh
Hindustan Times
mumbai,vijay mallya,enforcement directorate
Vijay Mallya left India in March 2016.(HT Photo)

Businessman Vijay Mallya left India legally and cannot be declared a fugitive because he was arrested in the United Kingdom on the basis of a warrant issued against him by an Indian court, said Mallya’s legal counsel before a special Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court on Friday.

The court was hearing the Enforcement Directorate’s (ED) plea to declare Mallya a fugitive under the Fugitive Economic Offenders (FEO) Act, 2018. Mallya, who has been accused of defaulting on bank loans amounting to ₹9,000 crore, has been in the UK since March 2016. His lawyer also said Mallya cannot leave the UK as per the terms of the bail granted by the UK court. The ED has refuted these claims.

Mallya left India on March 2, 2016, to attend a World Motor Sports conference in London because he owned a Formula One tea at the time, said Amit Desai, representing Mallya. “He left the country even before the warrant against him was issued. He did not leave the country to avoid criminal prosecution. He has the fundamental right to leave the country by the right of movement under the constitution,” said Desai. He added that as per the FEO Act, the circumstances must satisfy the factor of “reason to believe” for the accused to be declared a fugitive.

Desai further argued that since Mallya was arrested in the UK on the basis of an Indian warrant, an effort was clearly made to execute the warrant. “Only when he [Mallya] is concealing himself from the execution, then one can say he is absconding,” said Desai before special judge MS Azmi on Friday.

However, ED’s counsel DP Singh said in court, “He [Mallya] was already a proclaimed offender. It is also true that we are considering the extradition treaty. Despite being a proclaimed offence, that we have not been able to get him, it satisfies the ‘reason to believe’ aspect and he should be declared a fugitive.”

Responding to Desai’s claim that the terms of the bail granted to Mallya by the court in UK did not allow the businessman to leave, Singh said Mallya had the option of giving an undertaking before the British court, saying he wants to come to India.

The court will continue to hear arguments on Monday.

First Published: Nov 30, 2018 23:31 IST