In a significant development, a UK High Court judge on Thursday issued an enforcement order in favour of a consortium of 13 Indian banks, seeking to recover funds owed to them by beleaguered liquor baron Vijay Mallya.
Mallya is fighting case relating to his extradition to India on fraud and money laundering charges worth nearly Rs 9,000 crore.
The order grants permission to the UK High Court Enforcement Officer to enter the 62-year-old tycoon's properties in Hertfordshire, near London.
The High Court permitted the officer and his agents entry to Ladywalk and Bramble Lodge in Tewin, Welwyn, where Mallya is currently based.
However, it is not an instruction to enter, which means the banks have the option to use the order as one of the means to recover estimated funds of around 1.145 billion pounds.
"The High Court Enforcement Officer, including any enforcement agents acting under his authority, may enter Ladywalk, Queen Hoo Lane, Tewin, Welwyn and Bramble Lodge, Queen Hoo Lane, Tewin, Welwyn, including all outbuildings of Ladywalk and Bramble Lodge to search for and take control of goods belonging to the First Defendant (Mallya)," notes the order by Justice Byran, dated June 26.
"The High Court Enforcement Officer, including any Enforcement Agent acting under his authority, may use reasonable force to enter the Property if necessary," it states.
According to legal experts with knowledge of the case, the latest order by the High Court's Queens Bench Division is the granting of permission, should it be required, while the banks consider "all the enforcement options available to them".
The order relates to the UKs Tribunal Courts and Enforcement Act 2007 and follows a UK High Court ruling in May, which refused to overturn a worldwide order freezing Mallya's assets and upheld an Indian court's ruling that the Indian banks were entitled to recover funds. It marked the first recorded case of a judgment of the Debt Recovery Tribunal (DRT) in India being registered by the English High Court, setting a legal precedent.
The victory for the 13 Indian banks which include State Bank of India, 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 enables them to enforce the Indian judgment against Mallya's assets in England and Wales.
Mallya has made an application in the Court of Appeal seeking permission to appeal against the order, which remains pending.
Watch: UK court allows searching of Vijay Mallya’s properties near London
(With PTI inputs)