Mumbai: Fugitive economic offender and liquor baron, Vijay Mallya told the Bombay high court that by declaring him fugitive economic offender and allowing attachment of his assets, the special court had awarded him an ‘economic death penalty’.
Mallya made the statement through his counsel before Justice Ranjit More and Justice Bharati Dangre, during arguments on his plea challenging several provisions of the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act that came into existence in August last year.
While arguing the case his counsel said, “Debts of Mallya are mounting. He has assets to pay off these debts but government won’t allow the use of these assets. This is nothing but the economic death penalty that has been awarded to him”.
His counsel Amit Desai urged the court to restrict the proceedings related to confiscation of his assets across the country. The bench, however, refused to grant any interim relief on the petition.
Mr Desai further argued that the FEO Act was ‘draconian’ and ‘unconstitutional’ as it allowed the Centre to confiscate everything, irrespective of whether a property was bought from the proceeds of a crime or not.
Enforcement Directorate’s (ED) counsel D.P. Singh opposed the petition filed by Mallya. He argued that the Act was not draconian at all. “This Act is not draconian. In fact, this Act prohibits prosecuting agencies from acting on their own. For everything, including attachment of properties, we are supposed to get a court order that is passed only after hearing all sides,” Mr Singh said adding, “This act is meant for Mallya-like people only.”
A special court had in January declared Mallya a fugitive economic offender (FEO) under provisions of the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act. Later, Mallya approached the high court, challenging the provisions of the act that permit, among other things, confiscation of assets and placing them under the control of the Union government.
He also filed another petition challenging the special court order that declared him a fugitive economic offender, which was being heard by another division bench of the high court.