Mumbai: The biggest public sector lender State Bank of India (SBI) on Thursday denied any laxity on the part of the consortium of banks in seeking reliefs against the defunct Kingfisher Airlines Ltd (KFAL), its promoters and holding-associated company.
It also refuted certain media reports purportedly blaming the SBI, the leader of the consortium, for the crisis and termed these as based on “hearsay and conjecture”.
Setting the records straight, the SBI said it had moved very promptly to initiate appropriate legal steps to protect the interests of the lending banks and public monies.
It referred to media reports about the settlement between UK liquor giant Diageo and KFAL boss Vijay Mallya on February 26 and said the SBI had moved the Debts Recovery Tribunal (DRT), Bengaluru, that day itself, seeking advancement of the matter listed for hearing on March 8.
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The DRT advanced the matter to February 29 as the two previous days were holidays.
Since its senior lawyers had advised against approaching the Supreme Court directly for reliefs in the matter, the SBI filed four more applications with the DRT Bengaluru seeking various reliefs.
At the DRT hearing on March 2 — when Mallya is said to have left the country — only the application seeking relief against Diageo and United Spirits Ltd were heard and the matter posted for further hearing two days later.
Failing to get any relief from the DRT on March 2, the SBI filed a writ petition in the Karnataka High Court the following day and requested it to list it for hearing on the very next day, March 4.
With no reliefs forthcoming from either the DRT or the Karnataka HC, the SBI filed a Special Leave Petition (SLP) in the Supreme Court on March 8 and the next day, notices were issued to all concerned parties in the matter.
Currently, the SBI-led consortium of banks is fighting more than 20 cases in different courts and the DRT since June 2013 with more than 500 hearings conducted and at least 180 adjournments, the bank said.