New Delhi: GMR Hyderabad International Airport Ltd (GHIAL) will decide on Monday if it wants to pursue a non-bailable arrest warrant against Vijay Mallya, Kingfisher Airline Ltd’s founder, over bounced cheques.
A Hyderabad court said on Friday it could issue the warrant if GMR submits the court processing fee.
The case relates to cheques from Kingfisher to GMR worth Rs.10.50 crore that had bounced. The court fee hadn’t been paid by GMR until close of office hours on Friday.
“We will take a call on Monday if we want to go ahead with the warrant and pay the fee. The problem is that if we do not, then the courts will scrap the case against Kingfisher saying that we are not serious,” said a GMR official who declined to be named. “There will be tremendous pressure not to pay the fee.”
A decision by GMR to pay the court fee could bring further embarrassment to Mallya, who is in London and wasn’t reachable for comment.
He may then have to put in a personal appearance before the court at the next date of hearing.
The troubled airline that he runs is grounded because of a lockout that followed clashes among employees arising from non-payment of salaries.
“We have not been served with any warrants,” a Kingfisher spokesman said in a statement.
Earlier on Friday, Judge Kedara Chary dismissed an application filed by the counsel of Kingfisher Airlines over the non-appearance of the client, and issued the non-bailable warrant approval against its officials. He directed them to appear before the court on 5 November.
Apart from Mallya and Kingfisher chief executive Sanjay Aggarwal, the warrant would also apply to chief financial officer A. Raghunathan and two other directors, according to J.B. Chenna Kesava Rao, counsel for GHIAL.
GHIAL, which manages the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport in Hyderabad, said in its petition that Kingfisher had collected user development fees from passengers on behalf of the airport but did not remit the amount. The cheques were issued after the airport asked for the money.
“Kingfisher Airlines has issued cheques towards discharge of liability. On presentation, the same has been dishonoured. After the dishonour of the cheques, we issued a notice to the company and other directors. After receiving the notices, they did not respond. Subsequently, we have filed a case against the company and directors under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act,” GMR’s counsel Rao said.
“GMR Hyderabad International Airport had filed four GMR cheque bounce cases against Kingfisher Airlines amounting to Rs.10.50 crore,” the company spokesman said. “The cases were listed today for the airline to appear in the court. Since they failed to appear before the magistrate, the court has ordered issuance of a non-bailable warrant against KFA (Kingfisher Airlines), Mr. Vijay Mallya and four other KFA officials. At this stage GHIAL would not like to comment more.”
Earlier, the GVK Group-run Mumbai International Airport Pvt. Ltd that manages the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport filed a similar case against the troubled airline after a Rs.3 crore cheque was dishonoured. The airline is burdened with Rs.7,000 crore in debt. It is expected to reply to a show-cause notice to the aviation regulator by 20 October. Kingfisher’s 3,000 employees haven’t been paid for seven months.