Nirav Modi flies on revoked passport, CBI tweaks look out notice on Mallya: How technicalities helped them flee country

It’s more than a coincidence that both Nirav Modi and Vijay Mallya flew out of the country just at the right time, i.e. just before the scams they are involved in broke out.

There are uncanny similarities in the great escapes of both alleged fraudsters. Let’s call them strange technicalities that somehow manifested, giving both just the right window to execute great escapes from the country, despite being involved in some of the biggest scams to have surfaced in this nation.

Take the latest example, the Nirav Modi escape.

According to an Indian Express report, Modi travelled at least four times outside India using a revoked passport.

According to this report, Modi’s passport was revoked on 24 February. The process to revoke the passport must have begun a week before when the passport was suspended.

Unperturbed by any of these developments, Modi travelled between the United States, the United Kingdom and Hong Kong on his Indian passport between 15 March and 31 March, the report says. Now, how can someone travel on a revoked passport?

Vijay Mallya and Nirav Modi. Getty Images and Facebook.

Vijay Mallya and Nirav Modi. Getty Images and Facebook.

The only possibility is that the Ministry of External Affairs, which revoked the passport, didn’t communicate the decision to the airports and investigative agencies; had it done so, Modi and his entourage would have been detained at the point of exit.

It is not clear whether that is the case indeed, but the likely possibility in this case.

The ministry can always find an excuse citing procedural delays in informing airport authorities about a revoked passport or any other technicalities, but ultimately the fact remains that it helped a man who allegedly masterminded one of India’s biggest bank frauds relocate to safer pastures.

Chances of Modi's return to his home country are not any better than the chances of Vijay Mallya's or Lalit Modi's return.

Now, recall Mallya’s great escape in March, 2016, after allegedly defrauding banks to the tune of Rs 9,000 crore (the amount will be far higher now factoring in the interest component).

The Central Bureau of investigation (CBI) altered the nature of the look-out notice it issued to immigration authorities on Mallya within a month, effectively enabling him to plan his escape from the country without hassles. It was on 16 October 2015 that the CBI first issued a look-out notice asking the Bureau of Immigration (BOI) to detain Mallya at the airport if he tries to leave the country.

Till the time this notice is in place, under normal circumstances, it would have been impossible for the flamboyant ‘King of Good Times’ to leave the country.

But, the big twist came in November, just a month later, when another look-out notice was issued from the same agency, this time, asking the BOI only to inform it about Mallya’s departure and his travel plans and not detain him.

It is only common sense that the agency wanted Mallya to be in the country, which is why it issued the look-out notice. If the agency believed that the Kingfisher case is critical enough to detain Mallya within the country, what compelled it to change its stance within a month, prompting it to relax the restriction?

Was the agency asked to do it? When questions were raised later, the authorities cited technicalities in CBI communications, i.e. they called it an office mistake.

Imagine a scenario where both Mallya and Modi are still in the country to face the laws of the land. At least both would be behind bars facing charges.

But chances are that there is some invisible force that is aiding the timely exit of crooks in some or other way. Is it someone in the political circles or perhaps someone from the banking industry?

That question needs to be debated aggressively particularly in the backdrop of the corporate-political nexus in the country. Nearly 70 percent of all political donations are made by 'unknown sources' and the possibility of a quid-pro-quo between politicians in power and erring industrialists cannot be ruled out.

It is too dangerous to write-off the ‘technicalities’ that helped both Modi and Mallya flee the country as mere coincidences.

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Updated Date: Jun 15, 2018 22:38:37 IST

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