Dismissing beleaguered liquor baron Vijay Mallya’s claim that he is unable to travel back as his passport has been suspended by Indian authorities, the government on Thursday said that any citizen can approach the nearest Indian Embassy or High Commission and apply for an Emergency Certificate to return to the country.
Mallya on Friday informed a Delhi court that he wanted to come to India but was unable to travel back as his passport had been suspended by the authorities.
Underlining that the Emergency Certificate is specifically meant to provide a travel document to an Indian citizen to return to India, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Vikas Swarup said this facility is also available to Mallya, should he wish to apply for it.
"Our position is very clear. Any Indian citizen who is outside India and who does not have a valid travel document for any reason, only has to approach the nearest Indian Embassy or High Commission and apply for an Emergency Certificate," Swarup said when asked about Mallya’s submission to the Delhi court.
Mallya, who is at present in London, made the submission through his counsel before the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate in a case lodged for allegedly evading summons in connection with a FERA violation matter.
On July 9, the court had cancelled the exemption from personal appearance granted to him and had directed him to appear before it.
In his application moved through senior advocate Ramesh Gupta, Mallya requested the court that some time be given so that his appearance can be secured.
The counsel submitted the copy of an email sent by Mallya, stating that his passport was suspended on April 23, 2016 without giving him any opportunity of being heard.
Enforcement Directorate (ED), however, told the court that Mallya is already evading proceedings in several other cases and sought time to reply to the plea moved by him today.
The court has now put up the matter for further hearing on October 4.
The exemption from personal appearance to Mallya was granted in December 2000 on ED's complaint for evading summons issued to him by it.
The agency had issued summons to the businessman in connection with alleged payment of 200,000 dollars to a British firm for displaying Kingfisher logo in Formula One World Championships in London and some European countries in 1996, 1997 and 1998.
It had claimed that the money was allegedly paid without prior approval from RBI in violation of FERA norms.
In its plea against Mallya filed through prosecutor N K Matta, ED had also sought issuance of non-bailable warrant against the Chairman of the now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines to secure his presence in the ongoing trial of the case, which is at its final stage.
The agency's plea had said Mallya was reported to be in the United Kingdom and his presence in the trial was essential and had sought court's direction to him to remain personally present in every hearing.
Matta had argued that the court should recall its December 2000 exemption order as a PMLA court in Mumbai has recently issued an open-ended warrant against him in connection with a money laundering case.
According to ED, Mallya was summoned on four occasions for questioning in connection with a contract signed in December 1995 with London-based firm Benetton Formula Ltd for promotion of the Kingfisher brand abroad.