London: A court in the United Kingdom declared Indian fugitive businessman Vijay Mallya, the chairman of now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines, as "bankrupt" on Monday.
The UK court order comes as a massive boost for the consortium of banks led by the State Bank of India (SBI) to initiate freezing of assets owned by Mallya's Kingfisher Airlines, both in India and abroad, to repay its debt.
Mallya is wanted in India for Rs 9,000 crore loan defraud.
"As at 15.42 (UK time), I adjudicate Dr Mallya bankrupt," Chief Insolvencies and Companies Court Judge Michael Briggs said during a virtual hearing of the Chancery Division of the London High Court.
The consortium of banks led by SBI had argued for the bankruptcy order to be granted in their favour.
The Indian banks were represented by the law firm TLT LLP and barrister Marcia Shekerdemian.
Mallya is currently out on bail in the UK while a "confidential" legal matter, believed to be related to an asylum application, is being resolved in connection with the unrelated extradition proceedings.
His barrister, Philip Marshall, sought a stay as well as an adjournment of the order while legal challenges remain ongoing in the Indian courts.
However, the requests were turned down by the judge who concluded that there was "insufficient evidence" that the debt will be paid back to the petitioners in full within a reasonable period of time. He also put forward an application seeking permission to appeal against the bankruptcy order, which Judge Briggs refused as there was no "real prospect of success" of an appeal.
The petitioners were made up of an SBI-led consortium of 13 Indian banks, including Bank of Baroda, Corporation Bank, Federal Bank Ltd, IDBI Bank, Indian Overseas Bank, Jammu & Kashmir Bank, Punjab & Sind Bank, Punjab National Bank, State Bank of Mysore, UCO Bank, United Bank of India and JM Financial Asset Reconstruction Co. Pvt Ltd as well as an additional creditor, had been pursuing a bankruptcy order in the UK in relation to a judgment debt which stands at over GBP 1 billion.