The Supreme Court of India on Tuesday ordered businessman Vijay Mallya to appear before it on July 10 in a contempt case.
The apex court’s order is expected to strengthen India’s case for his early extradition from the United Kingdom although a long road seems to lie ahead. A London court will hear his case on May 17.
The Supreme Court’s ruling came following a petition filed by a consortium of banks against Mallya for contempt of court proceedings in a US$1.4 billion loan default case involving Mallya’s failed Kingfisher Airlines.
Mallya, who currently lives in the UK, may face at least six months in jail for contempt.
Although the one-time billionaire received US$40 million from the offshore British firm Diageo in February last year, he allegedly transferred the money to his son Siddharth Mallya and daughters Leanna Mallya and Tanya Mallya instead of repaying loans as per a court order.
He failed to disclose his transaction with Diageo to the apex court when sharing details of his assets. He also did not appear before the court.
Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi said Mallya had taken the court for a ride. He said the government was unsure of how to get back the money but that the court’s order was important and Mallya must abide by it.
In former days, Mallya was known for his flamboyant lifestyle and beach parties with models and film stars. Media hailed him as India’s Richard Branson.
The collapse of his businesses began with the failure of Kingfisher Airlines, which was launched in 2005. The Indian government canceled its license as Mallya did not pay salaries to its employees.
Mallya went to London in 2016 and has refused to return to India to face trial.