The mysterious Mister Diluter

Vijay Mallya has said that "it was a totally innocent statement made by me that I told Jaitley that I was going to London".

By Imran Ahmed Siddiqui
  • Published 13.09.18
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Vijay Mallya. File picture

New Delhi: Vijay Mallya has said that "it was a totally innocent statement made by me that I told Jaitley that I was going to London".

The circumstances preceding Mallya's escape were not all that innocent.

On June 12 this year, BJP parliamentarian Subramanian Swamy had tweeted: "Mallya could not escape from India because of a strong Look Out Notice for him at airports. He then came to Delhi and met someone who was powerful enough to change the Notice from blocking his departure to just reporting his departure. Who was that person who diluted this LON?"

On Wednesday after Mallya's "innocent" revelation, a Twitter user retweeted Swamy's tweet with an addition: "Sometimes Swamy ji really rocks." Swamy, who rarely misses a chance to pick on Jaitley, found it amusing or substantive enough to retweet it himself.

Mallya had fled India on March 2, 2016, even as banks had approached courts seeking orders to restrain him. A Rajya Sabha MP then, Mallya, who was elected with the support of BJP members in 2010, flew out of Delhi on his diplomatic passport.

On March 9, the then attorney-general, Mukul Rohatgi, had informed the Supreme Court that Mallya had left the country the very day the banks had moved the debt recovery tribunal. Rohatgi, representing a 13-bank consortium, said that he was told about Mallya's departure by the CBI.

In October 2015, the CBI had issued a lookout notice asking the bureau of immigration to immediately detain Mallya if he tried to leave the country. But within a month, the agency issued another circular, asking the immigration authorities only to "inform" it of his movements instead of detaining him.

On March 11, 2016, sources in the immigration bureau had claimed that the CBI was alerted about Mallya taking an international flight on March 2 but the agency said there was no arrest warrant.

In April 2016, India revoked Mallya's diplomatic and regular passports.

The CBI had clarified that its first notice seeking his detention was issued by "mistake" and "it was an error by junior staff". The agency had said the liquor baron was called thrice for questioning and every time he had made himself available to the investigators, which was why there was no cause for concern.