The CBI on Saturday defended its Joint Director A.K. Sharma saying the ‘look out circular notice’ against fugitive businessman Vijay Mallya was not changed “individually” but the decision was taken at the “appropriate level”.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) also clarified that the change in the LOC against Mallya was done as there was no sufficient ground to arrest or detain him.
“Some baseless allegations have been made by certain individuals against a senior CBI officer. THe CBI has stated many times that the decision to change the LOC against Mallya was taken because at the time there was not sufficient ground for the agency to detain or arrest him,” CBI spokesperson Abhishek Dayal said.
“The decision was taken at the appropriate level as a part of process and not individually by the officer as alleged,” he said.
The CBI’s response came soon after Congress President Rahul Gandhi accused Sharma, who is a Gujarat IPS officer, of helping Mallya to escape from the country. Gandhi said that Sharma, who was posted in the CBI in 2015, was also “in charge of Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi’s escape plans”.
“CBI Joint Director A.K. Sharma, weakened Mallya’s ‘look-out’ notice, allowing Mallya to escape. Sharma, a Gujarat cadre officer, is the PM’s blue-eyed boy in the CBI. The same officer was in charge of Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi’s escape plans. Ooops…investigation!” Gandhi tweeted.
Earlier this week, the Congress leader had accused Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley of “colluding” with Mallya to help him flee the country and demanded his resignation.
The agency official said that CBI received complaint against Nirav Modi and the owner of the Gitanjali Group from Punjab National Bank (PNB) almost a month after they had left the country.
“Therefore the question of any CBI officer having any hand in their fleeing the country does not arise. Prompt action was taken by CBI in the case immediately after the complaint was received from the bank,” Dayal added.
Mallya, who left India on March 2, 2016, faces charges of defrauding banks to the tune of Rs 9,000 crore.
Mallya is currently in London where a court finished hearing on India’s extradition case against him on Wednesday and is due to pronounce its verdict on December 10.
Choksi and Nirav Modi are under probe by both the CBI and ED. The ED had on May 24 and 26 filed chargesheets against both. The court took cognisance and issued non-bailable warrants against them.
Nirav Modi left India along with his family in the first week of January, weeks before the scam was reported to the CBI. His wife Ami, a US citizen, left on January 6 and Choksi on January 4.
A Red Corner Notice has been issued by the Interpol against Nirav Modi his brother Neeshal Modi and sister Purvi Modi, who are Belgian citizens.
The RCN request against Choksi is still pending with the Interpol. Choksi had acquired Antiguan citizenship in January this year.