The CBI has admitted to downgrading the lookout notice against Vijay Mallya from “detention” to “report”, because it didn’t believe the tycoon was a flight risk.
New Delhi: Rahul Gandhi today took direct aim at Prime Minister Narendra Modi and accused him of a role in fugitive businessman Vijay Mallya’s “Great Escape”. The Congress president implied in a tweet that the CBI’s move to dilute a lookout notice against Mr Mallya was sanctioned by the PM.
“The CBI reports directly to the PM. It is inconceivable that the CBI, in such a high profile, controversial case, would change a lookout notice without the approval of the PM,” tweeted Rahul Gandhi.
The CBI has admitted to downgrading the lookout notice against Vijay Mallya from “detention” to “report”, because it didn’t believe the tycoon — being investigated for loan fraud and money laundering — was a flight risk.
The CBI says the notice, put out on October 16, 2015, was converted weeks later on November 24 into a notice for “report on arrival” because the liquor baron had, at the time, frequently travelled between India and UK and also submitted to questioning.
The CBI says Mr Mallya was questioned on December 9, 10 and 11. There was no reason to believe he could escape, said officials, defending the diluted notice.
The first notice, the investigation agency said, was a “mistake” — the Mumbai immigration branch checked out the detention column while filling a form.
After Mr Mallya’s sensational claim about meeting Finance Minister Arun Jaitley before leaving, questions have been raised about the notice and why he was allowed to leave. Over the past two days, there has been non-stop sparring between the ruling BJP and the Congress, each accusing the other of proximity to Mr Mallya.
Yesterday, Congress leader PL Puniya alleged that he had seen Mr Mallya in conversation with Arun Jaitley in the central hall of parliament, two days before the businessman flew out on March 2, 2016, in the middle of attempts by banks to recover nearly Rs. 9,000 crore from him in unpaid loans.
“It was a 15-20 minute, sit-down meeting,” said Rahul Gandhi. Sitting near him, PL Puniya said: “It is my challenge. You can look at CCTV footage and see if I am wrong. If I am wrong, I will resign.”
Rahul Gandhi continued his attack on Mr Jaitley today.
Mr Mallya has claimed that he met the finance minister to discuss settlement of his dues with banks, but Mr Jaitley has called his statements false, and said the businessman, misusing his MP privileges, accosted him in parliament.