NEW DELHI, April 24 - India today revoked the passport of 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 the Enforcement Directorate and non-bailable warrant under the PMLA Act, 2002 issued by special judge, Mumbai, the MEA has revoked the passport of Vijay Mallya,� External Affairs spokesperson Vikas Swarup said.
Today�s revocation came even as the ministry was exploring legal option regarding deportation of Mallya, who has ignored three summons by the Enforcement Directorate 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 to him asking him why his passport should not be revoked.
According to sources, once the MEA decides to seek deportation of Mallya, who is believed to be in the UK after leaving India on March 2, the ministry will ask for its British counterpart�s assistance in the matter.
Asked how much time it will take in getting Mallya back to the country, the sources said after the revocation of the passport 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 letter rogatory,� the sources said.
The ED has approached the MEA seeking initiation of deportation proceedings against liquor baron Mallya charged with money laundering in the Rs 900-crore IDBI loan fraud case.
�The grounds for deportation are primarily two. A non-bailable warrant issued by the Mumbai court and revocation of the passport of the businessman,� the 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 of his passport.
Mallya, who had refused to appear before the ED on three occasions when summoned between March 10 and April 2, had left the country on March 2, the day the consortium of 13 banks that had lent him money had closed in on him by moving the Debt Recovery Tribunal.
Failing to respond to the ED summonses, Mallya had repeatedly sought fresh dates but the agency declined any further relief.
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 the ED under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act tantamount to wilful noncompliance 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. The 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. � PTI