CHENNAI: Having left India amid a plethora of loan default cases, Kingfisher boss Vijay Mallya has been wearing his patriotism on his sleeve, but the week ahead will put it to test. He is required to return to India to testify to at least four agencies but indications are that he is in no hurry to do so.
In an email interview with a weekly newspaper, Mallya said he's no fugitive but added in the same breath that the current time is not conducive for his right now because he thinks he won't get a fair hearing.
According to sources, Mallya’s counsels are on the job, exploring options that would allow the beleaguered chief of the now-defunct airline not to show up.
First a look at the agencies that want a date with him:
1. The Enforcement Directorate (ED) wants him to present himself before its investigators on March 18. The agency has slapped a money-laundering case on Mallya and others for alleged default on Rs 900 crore dues to IDBI Bank.
2. The Supreme Court wants to have a word with him on March 30 as it hears a case filed by a consortium of 17 banks which want his passport frozen as they try to recover Rs 9000 crore from him.
3. The Debt Recovery Tribunal is scheduled to hear three more cases on March 28.
4. A Hyderabad court has issued a non-bailable warrant against Mallya for failing to appear in court for hearing of a case relating to a dud cheque of Rs 50 lakh he allegedly wrote to GMR Hyderabad International Airport Ltd. The warrant has to be executed before April 13, the date of the next hearing.
There are other cases in which Mallya’s presence might have been needed, but as his Hyderabad counsel H Sudhakar Rao said, “There are other cases going on wherein we have got orders from the High Court dispensing with his attendance.”
Mallya is miffed that he's being missed. “I am being hunted down by the media in UK," he said in his Sunday tweets, without disclosing his locaton. But he gave a clue: "Sadly they did not look in the obvious place."
He added this advice to the media: "I will not speak to the media, so don’t waste your efforts.”
Meanwhile, employees of Kingfisher Airlines have written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, seeking his intervention so that they are paid their back wages, which amount to Rs 300 crore. Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya said his ministry is investigating whether Kingfisher Airlines paid its mandatory contributions to its employees' Provident Fund accounts.