Vijay Mallya faces Jail in India over Contempt Case

India’s Supreme Court sentenced former billionaire Vijay Mallya to four months in prison, five years after he was convicted of contempt of court.

In addition to him being fined £20 for the charge, he has also been ordered to return £33 million for violating court orders.

This was breached when he transferred the money to his family members and failed to disclose assets.

The money was received from British liquor major Diageo Plc.

In the 2017 judgement, the transaction with Diageo was declared “void and inoperative”.

The court said: “We direct that the transaction referred to in the judgment of May 9, 2017, in terms of which the amount of $40 million (£33 million) was disbursed to the beneficiaries is void and inoperative.”

Mallya is currently on bail in London where he has been contesting extradition to India since his arrest in 2017.

Mallya was charged with contempt of court after he failed to repay debt owed to lenders led by the State Bank of India.

The top court bench said: “Adequate punishment is a must. Mallya didn’t show any remorse.”

The Supreme Court bench comprised of justices UU Lalit, S Ravindra Bhat and PS Narasimha.

The court said that Mallya must deposit the money, along with 8% interest per annum, within four weeks.

If the amount is not deposited within the stipulated period, the recovery officer will take appropriate proceedings for the recovery of the money. The Government of India and its agencies should provide assistance and complete cooperation to the recovery exercise.

Justifying the “adequate” punishment of Mallya and directions to recover the amount, the court said these steps were necessary to “maintain the majesty of law” and also to “set nought the advantages secured by him and anyone claiming under him”.

The court said its directions were meant to ensure that the “amounts in question are available in the execution of decrees passed in the recovery proceedings concerned”.

While reserving the case for judgment in March, the Supreme Court had said it had been “dead-walled” about the proceedings going on in the UK against Mallya, who was behaving like a “free person” in that country.

Justice Lalit said: “We have said there are some proceedings going on in the UK.

“We don’t know the details of those proceedings, what is its nature or the relief sought for in those proceedings, what is even the number of those proceedings… Nothing.

“We have been simply told that something is pending.”

“What is the foreseeable future by which time it will be concluded, even in which court it is pending… We don’t know… Nothing. It is like a dead wall. So how long can we go on…”

Senior advocate Jaideep Gupta had said Vijay Mallya should be punished and his assets should be seized.

Mallya has been given enough time to present his defence, however, he has not done so.

On August 30, 2020, the apex court dismissed Mallya’s review petition against the 2017 verdict of contempt.

Mallya had informed the court that he had no control over the £33 million as he had already distributed it among his three adult children, who were US citizens.