Vijay Mallya wrote a stinging letter to the Ethics Committee of Upper House, which had sought his reply regarding the case of loan default of over Rs 9,400 crore he faces.
Informing the committee that he is resigning from the Rajya Sabha, Mallya said in the letter he did not want his “good name to be further needlessly dragged in the mud”.
In the letter, which forms part of the report of the Committee on Ethics tabled in Rajya Sabha on Wednesday, Mallya expressed “deep anguish and disappointment” that his Rajya Sabha colleagues have chosen to be “swayed and taken in” by what he alleged was “derogatory, and often blatantly false media frenzy and hysteria needlessly created against him” in recent times.
Alleging that he was facing “trial by media” and “lynch mob mentality”, he also raised questions over the panel’s “unanimous decision” to recommend his expulsion from the House on the ground of non-reflection of his alleged default in repayment of bank loans of about Rs 9531.60 crore in his declarations of assets and liabilities.
Citing various rules and court orders, Mallya said he was confident and convinced that there is “no tenable basis” for the “so-called” unanimous decision reached by Ethics Committee to recommend his expulsion.
“I have no faith that in the current climate prevailing in the country that I will get any justice even at the hands of my colleagues in the Ethics Committee and hence, I no longer, wish my good name to be further needlessly dragged in the mud,” he said in the letter informing the panel Chairman that he is writing to Rajya Sabha Hamid Ansari, tendering his resignation.
“I believe this action on my part is in keeping with the highest standards of ethics that any member of Parliament should and ought to emulate,” Mallya had said.
The committee, however, rejected his reply saying Mallya raised some legal and Constitutional issues, which are not tenable because the Supreme Court has clearly upheld the power of Rajya Sabha to expel its members for gross misconduct or conduct unbecoming of a Member of the House.
“It is a matter of regret that Mallya has thought it fit to impugn the judgement and impartiality of the Committee on Ethics as well as the entire House,” the committee said rejecting his arguments and recommending his expulsion.
In its report, the panel said a sanction “not less than termination of membership” of Mallya from the House is warranted under the circumstances and hoped that it would send a message to people that Parliament is committed to take such steps as are necessary against erring members to uphold dignity and prestige of this great institution.
In the letter, Mallya also took strong objection to the revocation of his passport by the External Affairs Ministry last week and dubbed it “arbitrary and unreasonable”.
Noting that the power of disqualification from membership of either House of Parliament and expulsion of a member of either House is provided for only under Article 102 and Article 105 (3) respectively of the Constitution, he said on a mere perusal of the Ethics Committees’ letter, it is self evident that the panel was not seeking to disqualify him under rule 102 of the Constitution.
“At any rate, the provisions of Article 102 are not attracted in my case, notwithstanding the arbitrary and unreasonable revocation of my passport,” he said.
Mallya further argued insofar as Article 105 (3) of the Constitution is concerned, it is now well-settled by repeated pronouncements of the Supreme Court that expulsion of MPs under this rule can only be sustained if their actions have caused obstructions to legislative functions or are likely to cause the same.
“I respectfully submit that my alleged dues to banks or the alleged non-reflection thereof in my declarations of assets and liabilities cannot and do not tantamount to causing or likely to cause any obstructions to legislative functions, and hence, cannot form the basis of my expulsion,” he said.
The Ethics Committee had in its letter to Mallya on April 25 had said the panel had sought factual information from the Department of Financial Services of Ministry of Finance with regard to default by him in repayment of bank loans.
“On scrutiny of the information received, it has been noticed that you have declared that there are no liabilities on you, while as per the information received from Ministry of Finance, you have liabilities of about Rs 9431.6 crore in form of bank loans,” the panel had said.
Contesting the argument, Mallya said that it was apparent that the complete and accurate facts have not been placed by the Department of Financial Services before the Ethics Committee.
He claimed that there is “no crystalised liability/debt finally determined by a court of competent jurisdiction” to be due from him to the consortium of banks.
“The question therefore of me reflecting on alleged liability in my declarations of assets and liabilities does not and cannot arise, and I maintain that my declarations are complete and accurate,” Mallya said.