HC seeks Centre`s reply to Lalit Modi`s plea for passport revocation

New Delhi: The Centre was asked today by the Delhi High Court to respond to the plea of sacked IPL Commissioner Lalit Modi, facing Enforcement Directorate (ED) probe into allegations of financial irregularities against him, to restore his passport.

Justice Hima Kohli sought the Centre`s replies to Modi`s plea, issuing notices to the Ministry of External Affairs Ministry, Regional Passport Office (RPO) in Mumbai and Chief Passport Officer (CPO) here and fixed the matter for hearing on April 25.

The court, however, refused to accede to Modi`s request to issue him a fresh passport as an interim measure for extension of his UK visa to let him stay longer in London.

Appearing for Modi, advocate Mukul Rohatgi said the passport authorities` decision to cancel his passport was not in conformity with the provisions of the Passport Act and the fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution.

"The procedure adopted by the passport authorities was totally flawed as they did not follow the principles of natural justice while dealing with the request of the ED that the passport (of Modi) be impounded or revoked," Rohatgi said.

Modi, who had been summoned several times by the ED in the past, has moved the court through his attorney Mehmood Abdi against the Delhi CPO decision, upholding revocation of his passport by the Mumbai RPO.

The former Indian Premier League chairman, in his petition, has pleaded to the court to summon records of the proceedings held before the RPO and the CPO.

The plea also sought quashing of the order of the passport authorities. The ED had made a request to RPO, Mumbai, that Modi be either called back or his passport be revoked.

The ED has alleged Modi, as IPL chairman, committed irregularities in holding the IPL tournament.

Modi, in his plea, said the passport authorities, while revoking his passport, did not consider threat to his life from the underworld.

He contended the ED did not decide on his plea to quiz him through video conferencing and instead recommended revocation of his passport.

Barring physical presence, he replied to all the summons issued to him by the ED in connection with the case, said Modi in his petition.

The Mumbai RPO had revoked Modi`s passport on March 3 last year.

The CPO had dismissed Modi`s appeal against the RPO order saying "the Enforcement Directorate, being an arm of the government and the designated agency to go into the question of violation of the provision of the Foreign Exchange Management Act 1999 (FEMA), is competent to make recommendation to the passport issuing authority to revoke the passport of an individual on the basis of investigation conducted by that agency.

"Mumbai passport office order has not violated any principle of natural justice because appellant (Modi) was informed of the proposed action and was given sufficient and even additional time to explain his side."

The CPO had also pointed out that the authority probing the case has reason to believe that Modi, in his capacity as IPL Chairman and Commissioner, has committed gross irregularities in the conduct of the IPL tournament and in the award of various contracts by the BCCI to various parties in India and abroad.


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