The Enforcement Directorate, in a special court on Wednesday, countering the claims made by Vijay Mallya’s lawyer, said: “Who goes to attend a meeting with 300 bags”.
Vijay Mallya’s lawyer, Amit Desai had claimed that the liquor baron had left India in March 2016 only to attend an event in Geneva and did not flee the country.
Amit Desai disputed the ED’s claims on Tuesday in front of the special judge for Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) cases, MS Azmi, by reiterating that his client did not leave the country secretly as claimed by the ED.
“There was no secret departure. He left the country to attend a planned meeting (of World Motor Sport in Geneva, Switzerland),” he said.
However, ED counsel DN Singh countered Desai’s claim by saying that “they don’t have anything to show that he left India to attend a meeting. Who goes to attend a meeting with 300 bags and huge cargo,” he added.
These arguments proceeded as the ED had moved a special court in Mumbai, seeking to declare Vijay Mallya a fugitive under the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act (FEOA).
Following the December 10 decision by the UK court wherein the court ordered Mallya’s extradition who is wanted in India for a Rs 9000 crore scam, Mallya’s lawyer on Tuesday sought dismissal of ED’s plea to declare him a fugitive, citing that he only left India to attend a meeting.
Desai argued that unlike his client, for anyone to be declared a fugitive he or she has to fall under two criteria’s. Firstly that the person has fled from the country to avoid investigations and secondly that the accused refuses to return.
However, Singh confirmed that Mallya did qualify under both these categories by saying that “despite summons and three NBW warrants issued against him, Mallya refused to join the probe. The extradition process is a proof enough that he was not willing to return,” he said.
Singh further clarified that Mallya had tried to elude citing lame excuses, such as the case being ‘politically motivated’ and also citing the ‘bad conditions of the jails in India’ as a reason for not returning.
The ED also countered Mallya’s lawyers’ claim that the FEOA was “draconian”. Singh clarified that it was just an ‘Act’ to bring back a person to India to join probe and face trial for offenses listed under it.
Singh also pointed out to the court that even after the extradition orders have been meted out by the UK court, there has been no statements from Mallya or his counsel regarding their future course of action, as in “when he is coming or how he is coming,” the ED counsel added.
Vijay Mallya, facing charges of defaulting on loans to the tunes of Rs 9000 crores, ran away to the UK on March 2, 2016. The Indian government along with the CBI and ED are making all possible efforts to bring back the offender back to India.