India on Sunday revoked the passport of businessman Vijay Mallya, whose Kingfisher Airlines has been accused of defaulting bank loans of over Rs 9,400 crore, in a step closer to initiating his deportation.
“Having considered the reply furnished by Vijay Mallya to the show-cause notice, facts got by Enforcement Directorate and non-bailable warrant under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002, issued by special judge, Mumbai, the ministry of external affairs (MEA) has revoked the passport,” External Affairs spokesperson Vikas Swarup said.
The revocation came as the ministry was exploring legal options regarding Mallya’s deportation. He has ignored three summons by the Enforcement Directorate (ED), which is looking into charges of alleged money laundering and other financial irregularities.
The Ministry had suspended Mallya’s diplomatic passport on April 15 and issued a show-cause notice asking him why his passport should not be revoked.
According to sources, once MEA decides to seek deportation of Mallya, believed to be in the UK, the ministry will ask for its British counterpart’s assistance.
Asked how much time it would take in getting Mallya back, sources said after the revocation his stay abroad is illegal and he should come back.
“The future course of action will depend on various factors, as also the steps taken by the investigating agencies which now can issue Lettor Rogatory,” the sources said.
ED has approached MEA seeking initiation of deportation proceedings against Mallya.
“The grounds for deportation are primarily two. A non-bailable warrant issued by the Mumbai court and revokation of the passport of the businessman,” sources said.
Mallya can approach the British authorities to grant him permission to continue his stay in that country. He can also move Indian courts challenging the revocation.
Mallya had left the country on March 2, the day a consortium of 13 banks that had lent him money closed in on him by moving the Debt Recovery Tribunal.
The ED noted that despite summons to him to join investigations on three occasions, Mallya deliberately avoided his personal appearance, which is a statutory requirement before the agency, in defiance of due procedures.
Investigations by multiple agencies are also on in several aspects of irregularities and criminal misconduct allegedly committed by Mallya including his role in the offence of money laundering, the sources said.
His failure to appear before ED under Prevention of Money Laundering Act tantamounted to wilful non-compliance and intended to deliberately scuttle the process of investigation, the agency said.
Against this background, the ED had moved the MEA for revocation of his passport. The sources said the government is committed to bringing to book wilful defaulters and to recover public money from them. ED has also approached the MEA seeking initiation of deportation proceedings against the liquor baron.
While the loans issue is being investigated by CBI on charges of criminal misappropriation, criminal conspiracy and under the Prevention of Corruption Act, the Serious Fraud Investigation Office is probing violations under the Companies Act and the ED under PMLA.