New Delhi: Facing the heat after three high-profile economic offenders managed to escape the clutches of Indian law and leave for foreign lands, the Central Bureau of Investigations (CBI) has attempted to defend itself by saying that there is no question of foulplay on its part.
The CBI has been under scrutiny after reported emerged that it had changed a 2015 Look Out Circular against liquor baron Vijay Mallya from 'detain' to 'inform about movement. On Saturday, CBI clarified that at the time when the decision was taken, there were not sufficient grounds for it to detain and arrest him. "Decision was taken at the appropriate level as a part of process and not individually by the officer as alleged," the CBI said, according to news agency ANI.
While Mallya is accused of owing nearly Rs 9,000 crore to Indian banks, billionaire jewellers Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi too have been charged with defrauding Punjab National Bank of thousands of crores. "CBI received a complaint against Nirav Mod and Mehul Choksi from 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," the investigative agency said.
The clarifications come at a time when the Congress party has upped the attack on the government and on the CBI for 'allowing' economic offenders like Mallya, Modi and Choksi to flee the country. Party president Rahul Gandhi even said that a Gujarat-cadre officer with CBI had let Modi and Choksi escape.
CBI Jt. Director, A K Sharma, weakened Mallya’s “Look Out” notice, allowing Mallya to escape.
Mr Sharma, a Gujarat cadre officer, is the PM’s blue-eyed-boy in the CBI.
The same officer was in charge of Nirav Modi & Mehul Choksi’s escape plans. Ooops...
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) September 15, 2018
Mallya’s Great Escape was aided by the CBI quietly changing the “Detain” notice for him, to “Inform”. The CBI reports directly to the PM. It is inconceivable that the CBI, in such a high profile, controversial case, would change a lookout notice without the approval of the PM.
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) September 14, 2018
Then there is a raging storm over Mallya's recent comment that he had met finance minister Arun Jaitley before leaving India and offered to 'settle matters.' BJP rushed to defend Jaitley and countered Congress charge by saying that it was the Gandhi family that was the de-facto owner of the defunct Kingfisher Airlines started and run by Mallya.
Verbal battles continue in political circles with even CBI being dragged into the prism of suspicion. Meanwhile, jails in India continue to wait for the three economic offenders over whom the entire political discourse is being pegged on.