The government on Friday suspended the diplomatic passport of liquor baron Vijay Mallya, to force his return to India, to face an Enforcement Directorate probe on charges of misappropriating a Rs 9,000 crore bank loan.
Mallya’s passport was suspended by the external affairs ministry on the recommendation of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) who had issued three summons to the Rajya Sabha MP in an IDBI bank money laundering case.
Passport of Vijay Mallya suspended by the Government of India on request of Enforcement Directorate— ED (@dir_ed) April 15, 2016
MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup tweeted the ministry’s statement on the issue.
“On the advice of the ED, the passport Issuing authority in the Ministry of External Affairs has today suspended the validity of Mr. Vijay Mallya’s diplomatic passport with immediate effect for a period of 4 weeks, under section 10A of the Passports Act, 1967.”
The statement also said that Mallya has to respond within one week or else MEA will revoke his passport.
“Mr. Mallya has been asked to respond within one week as to why his passport should not be impounded or revoked under section 10(3)(c) of the Passports Act, 1967. If he fails to respond within the stipulated time, it will be assumed that he has no response to offer and the MEA will go ahead with the revocation. “
“We see kind of hope that Govt showing seriousness in revoking Vijay Mallya’s passport,” Anirudh Balal, former kingfisher airlines employee told ANI.
Mallya, 60, left India on March 2 as the creditor banks closed in on him to recover Rs 9,200 owed by his now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines.
Mallya ignored three summons to appear before ED but claimed in a tweet that he was not on the run and would abide by the law.
Mallya is understood to have left for UK on his diplomatic passport though his exact whereabouts are not known.
ED has the option to approach a court for a non-bailable warrant against him and also ask the Interpol to issue a red corner notice (RCN) that will facilitate his arrest anywhere across the globe.
ED moved the government after the consortium of banks rejected Mallya’s offer to pay Rs 4,000 crore by September towards settlement of his loan.
The banks, led by the State Bank of India (SBI), have also demanded that Mallya be personally present at the next hearing of the case in Supreme Court on April 26.
The top court has also asked Mallya to disclose all assets owned by him and his family in India and abroad by April 21.