SC gives Kingfisher four weeks to face taxman

The cash-strapped and grounded Kingfisher Airlines, put in the dock by the income tax department for dues of at least 400 crore, got some breathing space from the Supreme Court today as the court accepted the airline's plea for time and adjourned the hearing by four weeks.

The airline, promoted by liquor baron Vijay Mallya, told the apex court that it was in negotiations with its investors for the revival of its grounded fleet.

"There are some serious negotiations going on with the investors and if they fructify, then we would settle all tax claims," Kingfisher's lawyer Harish Salve told a bench of Justices D K Jain and Madan B Lokur, seeking four weeks' time.

Salve pressed for the stay of a 5 December 2012 interim order of the Karnataka High Court asking the airlines to deposit 50 per cent of tax amount and furnish a bank guarantee for the rest.

Justice Jain said in reply, "We will provide you some interim protection, provided you say that I will deposit the principal (tax demand) in such and such time."

But Salve said fixing a time-frame would be "irresponsible".