Amid speculations that Essar Group promoter Ravi Ruia could become another Vijay Mallya who is now a ‘fugitive’ in London, the Supreme Court of India on Tuesday rejected his plea to go abroad. Ruia is facing a trial in a case related to the 2G spectrum scam. He wanted to go abroad for “business purposes”, his lawyer and Congress spokesman Abhishek Manu Singhvi told the Supreme Court.
However, the SC bench presided by Justices J S Kehar and Arun Mishra said it did not want “to take chances” while rejecting his plea to go abroad for ostensibly “business purposes”. “We have allowed a person to go abroad but he never came back. He was no less big than you in monetary terms. We don’t want to take chances now. We are now once bitten twice shy. We are not going to give liberty to anyone,” a bench of Justices J S Khehar and Arun Mishra said without naming the person but implying it was KingFisher owner and liquor baron Mallya.
Ruia wanted to visit United Kingdom, United States, Canada and UAE “purely” for “business purposes.”
The Apex Bench said, “final argument in the case was over and judgement is awaited….in such a scenario, we cannot allow him to go abroad.”
At this Singhvi argued that Ruia cannot be allowed to suffer “if some Mr. X has cheated the court.” To this, the court said, “it is because you are also similarly situated.” “He has also given the details of his assets and undertaking, but now he says I have sold my assets in India,” the bench said. Singhvi said that Ruia is an NRI and holds a residency visa of UAE and he has visited abroad 43 times for several reasons during the pendency of trial but never ever violated the bail conditions.
Detailing Ruia’s businesses in the United Kingdom, United States, Canada and Saudi Arabia, Singhvi said his elder brother could stand surety for his return and can even go to jail if he does not return.
“Give us details of your businesses in India. We have access to your assets in India, not abroad,” the bench said.
Singhvi said Ruia was accused of co-conspiracy in the case arising out of 2G scam and facing charges of cheating under section 420 of Indian Penal Code (IPC) and not Prevention of Corruption Act (PCA). Special Public Prosecutor and Senior advocate Anand Grover opposed Ruia’s plea and said he always wanted to be an exception and never followed the norms of giving details of his itinerary.