BENGALURU: In a setback to liquor baron Vijay Mallya, the Karnataka High Court on Friday rejected his interlocutory application (IA) and indicated that it may issue warrant to secure his presence if he doesn’t appear before it on January 19.
Mallya had filed the application seeking recall of the court’s order issued on October 20, 2016, asking him to be present before it for framing of charges over the contempt petition filed by a consortium of banks. The banks had lent money to his defunct Kingfisher Airlines.
A division bench of Justice Jayant M Patel and Justice Arvind Kumar posted the case for framing of charges to January 19, after rejecting the IA. The division bench asked Mallya’s counsel to inform him about the order passed on Friday.
In his IA, Mallya contended that the High Court has no jurisdiction to exercise the power of contempt for violation of his oral undertaking given before the Debt Recovery Tribunal (DRT), Benglauru. The division bench said the court can exercise its jurisdiction in terms of the power vested under Article 215 of the constitution.
Mallya also contended that the DRT was not subordinate to the High Court and hence it cannot exercise power under Contempt of Court Act for violation of his undertaking given before it.
On October 20, a division bench ordered Mallya, who is now residing in London, to be present before it in person on November 24 so that charges can be framed against him under Contempt of Courts Act.
However, instead of appearing, Mallya filed an IA seeking recall of this order.
According to the consortium of banks, when the matter was pending before the DRT as well as the High Court, they learnt from media reports that Mallya had pledged 1,04,86,666 shares of UB Ltd held by him and another 1,04,64,288 shares held jointly with his son Siddarth to Standard Chartered Bank.
The banks contended that pledging of shares was confirmed by the stock exchange and it was willful disobedience of the undertaking given by Mallya. Hence, he should be prosecuted under Contempt of Courts Act.