New Delhi: A Delhi court has issued notice to liquor baron Vijay Mallya on ED's plea seeking to withdraw the exemption granted to him from personal appearance in a case for allegedly evading summons in connection with purported violation of foreign exchange rules.
Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Sumit Dass sought response of Mallya by May 20 on a plea filed by Enforcement Directorate (ED) which also sought issuance of non bailable warrant against the chairman of now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines to secure his presence in the ongoing trial of the case.
"Issue notice to the counsel for the accused (Mallya) for May 20," the court said.
The plea, filed through ED's prosecutor N K Matta, said Mallya was granted exemption from personal appearance on December 20, 2000, till further orders and he is reportedly in United Kingdom.
"The accused is reported to be out of country in a separate case of PMLA being investigated by the directorate. The accused has failed to attend the proceedings under PMLA and is reported to be in UK," it said.
It said Mallya's presence in the ongoing trial of this case was essential and sought court's direction to him to remain personally present in every hearing.
The agency urged the court to "withdraw the exemption given from personal appearance of the accused and to issue non bailable warrant to secure the presence of the accused in the ongoing trial".
Earlier, Matta had argued that court should recall its December 2000 order by which Mallya was granted permanent exemption from personal appearance as a PMLA court in Mumbai has recently issued an open-ended warrant against Mallya in connection with a money laundering case.
In the present case, the ED had alleged that Mallya had violated the provisions of Foreign Exchange Regulation Act (FERA) in arranging funds to advertise his company's liquor products abroad.
ED had claimed that Mallya was summoned on four occasions for questioning in connection with a contract signed in December 1995 with London-based firm Benetton Formula Ltd for promotion of the Kingfisher brand abroad.
When Mallya failed to appear before ED in response to the summons, a complaint was filed on March 8, 2000 before a court here and later on charge was framed against him under section 56 of FERA.
According to ED, Mallya had allegedly paid 200,000 dollars to the British firm for displaying Kingfisher logo in Formula One World Championships in London and some European countries in 1996, 1997 and 1998.
The agency had claimed that the money was allegedly paid without prior approval from RBI in violation of FERA norms.