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The Supreme Court on Tuesday turned down a plea by the debt-ridden Kingfisher Airlines (KFA) to restrain the Union Bank of India (UBI) from declaring it a willful defaulter.
"Now that you have been declared a defaulter, you can challenge it in any court. Move a high court for an appropriate order," said a bench headed by Justice Anil R Dave, while declining to admit the KFA’s petition.
The bench said that the KFA could move any appropriate forum it deemed fit with its grievances against deprivation of rights to be represented. The company had sought a directive to the Centre for allowing its legal representation, besides a liberty to make representation before the Grievance Redressal Committee.
Its counsel told the court that declaration as a willful defaulter had serious penal consequences and also affected its reputation. It was also urged that depriving it an opportunity to be represented at the relevant forum amounted to miscarriage of justice.
The KFA claimed that UBI had hastily declared it as a willful defaulter without adhering to principles of natural justice. It sought setting aside the Calcutta High Court order, which had upheld the UBI’s mandate.
The Bank had on Monday declared debt-ridden Kingfisher Airlines and its promoter Vijay Mallya as wilful defaulters.
"We have declared Vijay Mallya and three other directors of Kingfisher Airlines as wilful defaulters," United Bank of India Executive Director Deepak Narang had said.
The Grievance Redressal Committee (GRC) of the bank has declared directors Ravi Nedungadi, Anil Kumar Ganguly and Subash Gupte as wilful defaulters.
Post this declaration, these persons and the entity would not be able to borrow from the bank in future. They would also lose Director-level positions in companies. Criminal proceeding could also be initiated against these persons if warranted.
The GRC meeting was convened on Monday after a Calcutta High Court division bench allowed the bank to initiate the process of declaring them as wilful defaulters last week. The GRC had asked directors to be present before it but no one turned up.
Instead, they had sent a letter through their lawyer stating that they had filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in Supreme Court and pending the judgement the bank should not proceed in this regard.
The Kolkata-based bank is the first PSU lender to initiate the process of declaring Vijay Mallya and three other directors of the grounded Kingfisher Airlines as wilful defaulters a couple of months ago.
Subsequently, other banks such