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SC sentences fugitive businessman Vijay Mallya to 4 months in jail for contempt of court

Mallya, who was found guilty in 2017 of transferring $40 million to his children in violation of court orders, was also fined Rs 2,000 by the apex court.

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday sentenced fugitive businessman Vijay Mallya to four months in prison for contempt of court. The top court also fined him Rs 2,000.

Mallya was found guilty in 2017 of transferring 40 million US dollars to his children in violation of orders passed in a case filed by a consortium of banks led by the State Bank of India.

The banks had approached the court in a loan-default of Rs 9,000 crore involving Mallya’s Kingfisher Airlines.

Pronouncing the punishment Monday, the bench led by Justice U.U. Lalit observed: “We have said in the judgement of 2017 that the action of the contemnor in disbursing US $40 million was contempt. We must impose adequate sentence on the contemnor to uphold the majesty of law and the amounts in the dispute are available for execution.”

The bench further said Mallya did not show any remorse and that it was necessary to impose the punishment to “uphold the majesty of law”. It directed Mallya to deposit the amount with interest within four weeks. In case of default, authorities should initiate attachment proceedings, the court said.

The court had on 10 March reserved its orders on the sentencing, after Mallya did not appear despite multiple chances given to him. The hearing on the punishment Monday proceeded in his absence.

During the hearing, the Centre had told the bench that though Mallya’s extradition from the United Kingdom was allowed, he could not be brought to India due to some “secret proceedings” pending against him there, the details of which are not known to the Indian government. He has been in the UK since 2016.

In view of this stand, the court had appointed senior advocate Jaideep Gupta to assist the bench, who suggested the top court proceed with the case after giving him a final opportunity to appear. Gupta submitted that Mallya and his counsel were given adequate opportunity to address the court and, therefore, the principles of natural justice were fulfilled.

The order came on a contempt plea filed by the SBI-led consortium of banks, alleging Mallya had transferred the amount in violation of the court’s orders. Money was diverted to his son and daughter and this fact was concealed from the court, the Supreme Court was told.

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