Congress, Government Clutch at Thin Air in the Wake of the Kingfisher's Flight

If Greenpeace’s Priya Pillai could be deplaned at govt’s behest, without court order, why was Mallya not stopped, Azad asks in Upper House.

Published: 12th March 2016 05:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 12th March 2016 05:00 AM   |  A+A-

Ghulam Nabi Azad

NEW DELHI: Parliament, particularly the Upper House, of which Vijay Mallya is a member, remained agitated over his escape from the country, with the opposition and the treasury benches trading charges. Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad questioned the government on the “alteration” in the CBI ‘lookout’ notice which facilitated the liquor baron’s departure, a day after he attended the House, evading the long arm of the agencies investigating his “willful’ defaulting of bank loans. During Zero Hour, Azad alleged that the CBI had amended the lookout notice issued in October 2015 in which Mallya’s detention was sought if he tried to leave India. However in November, the order was re-worded to merely “inform” authorities in case he left the country.

What made the CBI change its notice, the Congress leader asked, accusing the government of helping Mallya exit quietly.

Poking holes in the government’s defence that there was no court order to detain Mallya, Azad said it had detained Greenpeace activist Priya Pillai at an airport simply on government’s order, without a court order. “So why was Vijay Mallya not stopped? You said there was no court order against him” but Pillai was detained on the government’s order,” he said.

Resuming the sparring, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said the NDA government would not give any concession to Mallya like the Congress-led regime had for Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi of the Bofors kickbacks scandal.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had informed Parliament on Thursday that the total dues in Mallya’s cases including interest amounted to `9,091.40 crore as on November 30, 2015.  The loans to companies promoted by Mallya were sanctioned between 2004 to 2007 and those turned into bad loans in 2009. The non-performing assets were restructured in 2010.

It was also revealed by a senior minister that then DGCA chairman Bharat Bhushan was shunted out by UPA-II Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh, apparently after Bhushan recommended closure of Kingfisher Airlines for defaulting on commitments given to DGCA on ticketing and safety guidelines, and for non-payment of salaries for six months. Bhushan’s successor, Prashant Sukul, however, said “satisfactory compliance” was shown by the scheduled domestic airlines.

Meanwhile, the Rajya Sabha Ethics Committee is expected to take up the case of Mallya’s disappearance.


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