Supreme Court of India
SC issues notice to Mallya, gives 2-weeks to replyReuters

A Supreme Court bench of Justices Kurian Joseph and Rohinton Nariman issued notice to Vijay Mallya through his company and counsel on a plea by banks to impound his passport, and sought a response from him in two weeks, reported the Times of India.

The notice was also served to the Indian High Commissioner at the U.K. and via Mallya's official Rajya Sabha email address, reported the Hindu.

To a question on the whereabouts of Mallya by the Bench. Attorney General Mukul Rohtagi, representing the consortium of banks, said he was informed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) the Rajya Sabha member had left Indian shores on March 2, the very day the banks approached the Debt Recovery Tribunal (DRT), the Hindu report said.

The DRT had been approached with a civil suit filed by a consortium led by the State Bank of India (SBI) to stop Mallya from accessing the $75 million (Rs 515 crore) "severance package" Diageo Plc gave him to step down from the acquired company's chairmanship.

The CBI sources had confirmed earlier in the day the liquor baron had flown abroad to an undisclosed location. "We are aware that he is not in the country at present. We will track his location when we need him," sources in the investigating agency told NDTV Profit.

The CBI has questioned Mallya twice on his alleged loan default, and recently the Enforcement Directorate had charged him of financial irregularities and fraud under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.

A consortium of 13 banks led by the SBI had petitioned the country's top court to pass an order to restrict Mallya from leaving the country. They argued the DRT had failed to exercise its power to issue an arrest warrant against him, impound his passport or demand security as provided in the Banks and Financial Institutions Act, reported the Business Standard.

It is said Mallya, now declared a wilful defaulter, owes as much as Rs 7,000 crore from the Airlines business alone, apart from the Rs 2,000 crore from his other businesses.

The Economic Times had said in another report the banks being represented by Attorney General indicates the government was backing the petitioners against Mallya.

Rohatgi said in the court his clients were "not behind (sic) anybody's blood. We want to sit across him and get back our money. We want to settle the loans."

The next hearing is scheduled for March 30.

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