Hearing the case of a man in Telangana who has been in prison for a year for allegedly stealing a grand total of five sarees, the Supreme Court had a question – what about the individual who has defaulted on crores of rupees? The hint at Vijay Mallya, the alcohol baron wanted in India on charges of fraud linked to unpaid loans, was not missed.
Chief Justice of India Justice JS Khehar did not name Mr Mallya as he stated, “A man who has taken away crores of rupees is enjoying life. But here a man who took five sarees is in prison.”
The Supreme Court was hearing a request by the spouse of Ch Eliah, arrested in Hyderabad over a year prior and in jail without trial.
How, the Chief Justice addressed, could Telangana take a man into preventive custody for stealing sarees?
The charged man’s lawyer argued there was no witness to prove the offense.
The Telangana government justified the arrest saying a gang of saree thieves was operating in Hyderabad and many brokers had complained about it, which made it essential for the state has to arrest them.
The Supreme Court will take up the case on Wednesday.
Mr Mallya, 61, left India a year ago and moved to the UK in the middle of efforts by a group of banks to recover around 9,000 crores in unpaid loans to his collapsed Kingfisher Airlines. A warrant is out for the alcohol tycoon to face trial in India for charges of conspiracy and fraud over the credits he owes.
He recently said that he is “safe in UK” and New Delhi has no grounds to extradite him.