In an oblique reference to liquor baron Vijay Mallya, the Supreme court on Monday said while a man is languishing  in jail for over an year for stealing five sarees  but a person who has defaulted on crores of rupees is enjoying life abroad. Chief Justice of India JS Khehar’s scathing remark on Mallya was apparent who is evading arrest on charges of fraud linked to unpaid loans.

“A person who has taken away crores of rupees is enjoying life.  But here a person who took five sarees is in jail,” the CJI said.

The reaction of the apex court came while hearing a petition by the wife of Ch Eliah, arrested in Hyderabad over a year ago and in prison without trial.

The court also questioned the Telangana government  whether it could take someboy in preventive custody over accusations of stealing sarees.

Eliah’s lawyer argued there was no witness to prove the offence. However, the Telangana government backed its decision saying a gang of saree thieves was operating in Hyderabad and many traders had complained about it, which made it essential for the state has to arrest them.

Mallya, who sneaked out of India last March and is reportedly living in London, is wanted by the Enforcement Directorate (ED). The government and the RBI have hinted at going hard at the fugitive business tycoon.