The Karnataka high court on Thursday directed businessman Vijay Mallya to appear before it on 24 November for framing of charges in a 2013 contempt case filed by the State Bank of India (SBI).
A division bench comprising justices Jayant M. Patel and Aravind Kumar observed that there was a prima facie case against Mallya and asked him to appear before the court.
The case relates to Mallya allegedly violating an undertaking to the Bengaluru bench of the Debt Recovery Tribunal (DRT) that he would not dispose of his share holdings.
In July 2013, Mallya, Kingfisher Airlines Ltd and United Breweries Holdings Ltd (UBHL) had given the undertaking to the DRT, shortly after SBI had moved petitions against the company and its promoters over unpaid dues of over Rs 9,000 crore.
Mallya had pledged over 1.04 crore shares (around 4.023% of the total share capital) of United Breweries Ltd, the company said in a filing to the Bombay Stock Exchange on 30 August 2013. In another filing on the same day, the company had said that Mallya and his son Siddhartha had pledged around their entire holding of 3.95% or 1.04 crore shares.
The bank said the share pledge was a violation of the earlier undertaking. Mallya’s legal team contested that the undertaking could not restrain him from pledging his shares.
On 27 August 2014, SBI had filed a civil contempt petition (CCC) against Mallya in the Karnataka high court. The bank has maintained that Mallya and his company have tried to defeat the proceedings initiated against them before the DRT.
The direction to appear before the HC comes at a time when enforcement authorities and secured lenders have been relentlessly seeking the return of Mallya from the UK.
Mallya left India on 2 March at a time when a consortium of 17 banks and investigative agencies were closing in on the liquor baron over unpaid dues and allegations of fund diversions.