The Rajya Sabha’s ethics committee took up the matter of the Rs 9,000 crore owed to banks by liquor baron Vijay Mallya who is an independent member of the House, amid an escalating row between the Congress and BJP over the embattled businessman.
The panel may seek reports from agencies probing Mallya’s alleged diversion of funds to know “the actual evidences” against him, said a source. It will also look into possible conflict of interest with the entrepreneur being part of the consultative committee on civil aviation and the standing committee on commerce.
Opposition leaders have attacked the government for the flamboyant businessman’s surprise departure from the country while being pursued by investigating agencies and banks over the massive debts.
Following uproar over the issue and several MPs serving notices, Rajya Sabha chairman Hamid Ansari referred the matter to the ethics committee. The panel has the mandate to oversee the moral and ethical conduct of members.
Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to “focus on Vijay Mallya’s deportation and ensure that Rs 9,091 crore is recovered”.
“Mallya is Congress’ baby,” BJP national secretary Shrikant Sharma responded. “When his Kingfisher Airlines was on the verge of closure, the then government pushed banks to give him a package of Rs 3,100 crore.”
Mallya’s Rajya Sabha term ends in July.
Ethics committee chairman and veteran Congress leader Karan Singh said, “We have taken its cognisance. Now we will proceed on it as per our rules.”
The panel may also ask Mallya to present his side of the story. Singh, however, made it clear that no decision was taken on Monday. The date of the next meeting is not decided.
“Even if we recommend any action against him (Mallya), it will not be valid after he ceases to be an MP,” pointed out a committee member.