Mallya’s passport revoked, but why bringing him back may not be easy | india | Hindustan Times
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Mallya’s passport revoked, but why bringing him back may not be easy

The foreign ministry may have revoked liquor baron Vijay Mallya’s passport on Enforcement Directorate’s (ED’s) request, but officials say a long legal battle stands in the way of bringing the businessman back to India.

india Updated: Apr 24, 2016 23:57 IST
Abhishek Sharan
The Ministry of External Affairs on Sunday revoked industrialist Vijay Mallya’s passport.
The Ministry of External Affairs on Sunday revoked industrialist Vijay Mallya’s passport.(PTI File Photo)

The foreign ministry may haverevoked liquor baron Vijay Mallya’s passport on Enforcement Directorate’s (ED’s) request, but officials say a long legal battle stands in the way of bringing the businessman back to India.

Mallya, known for his flashy lifestyle, left the country on March 2 after calls for his arrest and is believed to be in the UK. The former UB Group chairperson and his defunct Kingfisher Airlines owe more than Rs 9,000 crore to 17 banks.

Mallya, known for his flashy lifestyle, left the country on March 2 after calls for his arrest and is believed to be in the UK. The former UB Group chairperson and his defunct Kingfisher Airlines owe more than Rs 9,000 crore to 17 banks.

“...Mallya’s permission to stay in UK does not automatically end once his passport is cancelled here. But if he is still there, then he cannot go anywhere else. He will have to remain confined to the UK, unless he acquires citizenship of some other country and hence a new passport as well,” lawyer MS Khan said.

An official of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) said on condition of anonymity: “The UK is a country that is not very open to deporting people as instances in the past showed.” He was not authorised to speak to the media.

The CBI has registered a Rs 900-crore loan default case involving the 60-year-old Mallya and the IDBI Bank. The ED, which investigates financial crimes, is also looking into the case. Mallya has ignored three summonses issued by the ED and sought time till May to depose before the agency.

Now, Mallya can challenge the government’s move in Delhi high court on grounds that the passport revocation was done without any legal merit, an ED official said.

Read: Govt committed to bringing Vijay Mallya back to face justice: MEA

In 2014, the court restored the passport of Lalit Modi, who is in the UK, under similar circumstances. The government had revoked the IPL founder’s passport after allegations of money-laundering in the cash-rich cricket league.

After India’s request to the UK for Mallya’s deportation, the businessman might say there was no malafide intent and the loan default happened because of Kingfisher Airlines’s commercial failure, the official said.

“But the court may not consider his (Mallya’s) plea with empathy since he is seen to have neither submitted to the Mumbai court’s orders nor ED’s directives in the past,” he said.

An official who handles legal matters for the ED said the cases of Mallya and Modi were different.

“Lalit Modi’s passport was cancelled in public interest... But Mallya is facing criminal charges of money laundering. Lalit Modi’s passport was restored by court but in Mallya’s case the Enforcement Directorate is on a strong legal footing.”

Another ED official said the agency’s case “stood the scrutiny of MEA and legal experts”. “Mallya’s deportation is certain and it might happen soon if UK helps,” he said.

The UK is likely to consider India’s request for Mallya’s deportation -- once it is made -- “positively” as a Mumbai court has issued a non-bailable warrant against him, the official said.

The best option for the businessman was to reach a settlement with banks, the official said, and added Mallya was willing to return Rs 4,000 crore earlier but now he was ready to pay back Rs 7, 000 crore.

HT reported last Thursday that if Mallya repays the loans, the move might impact the ED’s probe against him.

However, a government official, who too was not authorised to speak to the media, said the CBI probe might not get affected.

The CBI case names Mallya, Kingfisher Airlines, its former CFO, A Raghunathan, and unknown IDBI Bank officials for loan default.

“The CBI’s case will stay unaffected because the agency is also looking at the role of public servants --- the IDBI Bank officials --- in not carrying out necessary due diligence prior to approving Kingfisher’s loan request for Rs 900 crore despite adverse indicators,” the official said.

(With inputs from Rajesh Ahuja in Delhi)

Read: Vijay Mallya’s name, British home recorded on UK electoral roll: Report