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Vijay Mallya offers to repay Rs. 4,000 crore to banks by September

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Proposal follows hectic talks through video conferences

Kingfisher Airlines Chairman Vijay Mallya has offered to pay banks Rs. 4,000 crore as partial settlement of the carrier’s debts and indicated to the Supreme Court that the atmosphere in India was too vitiated for him to immediately return.

The proposal, submitted to the court in a sealed cover on behalf of Mr. Mallya and Kingfisher Airlines, includes an assurance to pay Rs. 4,000 crore by September to a consortium of banks led by the State Bank of India.

The defunct airline founded by Mr. Mallya, a Rajya Sabha member, owes more than Rs. 9,000 crore to the lenders. The offer, Mr. Mallya’s lawyers led by senior advocate C.S. Vaidyanathan told the court on Wednesday, was a result of hectic negotiations held through video conferences, which went on till late Tuesday.

The lender consortium’s lawyers later said that the proposal also mentioned further payment of more than Rs. 2,000 crore, subject to the outcome of a pending suit filed by Mr. Mallya’s businesses.

The consortium of 13 banks, some of them in the public sector, had moved the Supreme Court earlier this month to impound Mr. Mallya’s passport in a bid to restrain him from leaving the country. But on March 9, the first day of court hearing, Attorney-General Mukul Rohatgi told the court that Mr. Mallya had already left the country.

Blames media

Confirming that he is still abroad, Mr. Mallya blamed the media for fuelling a “surcharged atmosphere” against him. Justice Kurian Joseph, who heads the Bench comprising also of Justice Rohinton Nariman, remarked that the media was just doing its job in public interest and harboured no personal grudges against Mr. Mallya.

Taking the proposal on record, the court gave the consortium a week’s time to respond.

“It is for you to tell us whether you reject this or not,” Justice Nariman told the banks.

“Where are you? Are you back in India,” Justice Kurian asked.

“No. The media has vitiated the atmosphere. The atmosphere is surcharged against me... There are cases in which the media has created such a surcharged atmosphere that even beatings have taken place... the less said the better,” Mr. Vaidyanathan responded.

“The media ultimately stands for public interest. They just want the money taken from the banks to be brought back,” Justice Kurian said.

The consortium of 13 banks, some of them in the public sector, had moved the Supreme Court early this month to impound Mr. Mallya’s passport to restrain him from leaving the country. But on March 9, the first day of hearing, Attorney-General Mukul Rohatgi appeared for the banks only to inform the Bench that Mr. Mallya had already left the country. In fact, Mr. Rohatgi said the businessman had left the very day the banks moved the Debt Recovery Tribunal (DRT).

At the previous hearing, the banks had faced uncomfortable questions from the court about their decision to grant such huge loans to the industrialist, especially when Mr. Rohatgi submitted that only “a fraction” of Mr. Mallya’s assets were in India.

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Printable version | Aug 20, 2019 12:03:35 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/vijay-mallya-offers-to-repay-some-part-of-loan-to-banks-by-september/article8413384.ece

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