The diplomatic passport of beleaguered liquor baron Vijay Mallya, who is currently in the UK, has been suspended with immediate effect for four weeks, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) announced on Friday.
“On the advice of the Enforcement Directorate, the Passport lssuing Authority has today suspended the validity of Mr. Vijay Mallya’s diplomatic passport with immediate effect for a period of four weeks”, the MEA spokesperson said.
The spokesperson also said Mallya would have to respond within a week as to why his passport should not be impounded or revoked. ” If he fails to respond within the stipulated time, it will be assumed that he has no response to offer and the MEA will go ahead with the revocation,” the spokesperson said.
The diplomatic passport was issued to Mallya as he is a member of the parliament. The regular travel document is surrendered when a diplomatic passport is issued. This will also be cancelled, when the diplomatic passport is revoked.
MEA’s move follows a request from the Enforcement Directorate (ED) seeking a revocation of the liquor baron’s passport, after his refusal to join a money laundering probe. The ED had served him three notices asking him to appear before the agency tasked with fighting economic crimes.
Mallya who was elected to the Upper House of the parliament from Karnataka in 2010 is due to retire on 30 June. The self styled “king of good times” is believed to be staying in his luxury mansion worth $16.4 million in Hertfordshire village, north of London.
The promoter of the now defunct Kingfisher Airlines is facing heat from banks to repay dues to the tune of $1.4 billion.
Weeks after he left India for the UK, Mallya had on 30 March had made an offer to pay $603 million to his lenders. .
The consortium of banks, mostly state run, turned down the offer saying it was less than half of what Mallya owes them. The bankers told the Supreme Court that any meaningful negotiations could happen only with Mallya being present.
The controversial businessman’s departure had sparked an uproar in the parliament. Many members alleged that the Central Bureau of Investigation had allowed him to exit the country.
(IANS with agencies )