The Congress on Thursday accused the Narendra Modi government of “criminal conspiracy” in allowing liquor baron Vijay Mallya to flee the country and said investigating agencies should have seized his passport and taken steps to restrict his movement.
“My charge against this government is that when so many agencies were interrogating him (Mallya), why was he not arrested, why was his passport not confiscated,” Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said in the Rajya Sabha.
Raising the matter during Zero Hour, Azad said everyone knew Mallya led a “luxurious life”, had bases in several countries and “could flee any day”. He added Mallya is not a “needle” and moves around with an entourage, expressing surprise at how Mallya managed to leave the country despite a CBI look-out notice.
“My allegation is that this government is party to this criminal conspiracy of allowing him to escape and leave the country. In this criminal conspiracy, this government should be made party and the Supreme Court should take note of this,” Azad said.
“Without the participation and without the active support of this government, he could not have left the country. That is my allegation,” he said adding “one had escaped, the second Lalit Modi (Mallya) should not be allowed to escape”.
Following the uproar, Union finance minister Arun Jaitley assured the Opposition that a CBI investigation is underway. He also pointed out that the loans were given to Mallya by PSU banks when the Congress-led United Progressive government was in power.
Earlier, Jaitley had defended the government and said the liquor baron left the country even before the consortium of banks had sought a look-out notice against him. Jaitley told the Rajya Sabha the government is trying to ensure that the banks recover every penny Mallya owes them and that justice will be served.
He also pointed out that Mallya’s assets have been attached in the past few months and further clarified that he managed to flee on March 2 even before the CBI’s lookout order could reach the authorities.
The Supreme Court had issued a notice to Mallya on a plea filed by a consortium of 17 public sector banks, including the State Bank of India, seeking to restrain him from leaving India and impounding his passport.
Mallya’s escape from India came to light when attorney general, Mukul Rohatgi, appearing before the Supreme Court, on behalf of the PSU banks, said that probe agencies have informed him that the former UB Group chairperson has left the country.
Minister of state for parliamentary affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi also said the government will not let the liquor baron escape with the money of Indian citizens.
“We will get hold of Vijay Mallya, we will not let him escape like this. Anyone who has siphoned nation’s money illicitly, we will not let them live in peace,” Naqvi said.
The Supreme Court has sought Mallya’s response to the banks’ plea by 30 March which is the next date of hearing.