news Thursday, June 18, 2015 - 05:30
    Taking on allegations of political vendetta made by Lalit Modi, former Union Minister P Chidambaram on Wednesday dismissed charges made against him and the former ruling UPA government.    After an interview in which Modi claimed that Chidambaram had written to the UK government and pressurized them against helping him out, the former minister rubbished his statements. Instead he said that the letters exchanged between himself as Finance Minister and Chancellor of Exchequer, George Osborne over Modi's return must be made public.    Full text as said by P Chidambaram    In or about 2010, the Enforcement Directorate was investigating certain matters concerning Mr Lalit Modi. At the request of the ED, Mr Lalit Modi’s passport was cancelled in or about 2011.   I returned as Minister of Finance on 1-8-2012.   During a routine briefing, I was briefed about the cases being investigated by the ED, including the case concerning Mr Lalit Modi. ED reported that Mr Lalit Modi had left India and was, at that time, in the United Kingdom without a valid passport. ED had issued show cause notices and summons to appear to Mr Lalit Modi, but he had not appeared in person. ED, therefore, requested that I may take up the matter with my counterpart, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr George Osborne.   After due consultations within the government, it was decided that I may take up the matter with the UK Chancellor.   Mr Osborne and I discussed the matter at a bilateral meeting. I wrote a letter to Mr Osborne to which Mr Osborne replied. In response, I wrote another letter to Mr Osborne.   You will kindly appreciate that I am recalling the events from memory. The letters exchanged between Mr Osborne and me are the best evidence. Both the context and the contents will be known if the letters are made public. The gist of the letters was – and I speak from memory – that Mr Lalit Modi was being investigated under the laws of India; that his passport had been cancelled and he had no right to travel outside India or to remain in the UK; and that the UK government may take steps to send him back to India.   I understand that Mr Lalit Modi has made some charges against the UPA government. The charges are laughable and do not deserve a reply. The complete answer to the charges can be found in the letters exchanged between Mr Osborne and me.  In a way, Mr Arun Jaitley, the Finance Minister, has repelled the charges by confirming that the ED was indeed investigating 16 cases against Mr Lalit Modi and had issued show cause notices to him in 15 of those 16 cases. However, the matter does not end there.       The conduct of Ms Sushma Swaraj, the External Affairs Minister, in facilitating the issue of a travel document to Mr Lalit Modi when his passport stood cancelled and he was avoiding an enquiry by the ED also raises a number of important questions.   1. Why is the Government, despite repeated demands, not releasing the letters exchanged between the Finance Minister, India and the Chancellor of Exchequer, UK?   2. If the EAM was inclined to facilitate Mr Lalit Modi’s travel to Portugal on humanitarian grounds, why did she not advise Mr Lalit Modi to apply to the Indian High Commission in London for a temporary travel document to enable him to visit Portugal alone for a limited period? Why did she feel that Mr Lalit Modi, an Indian citizen, should have a UK travel document rather than an Indian travel document?   3. Why did the EAM not insist that Mr Lalit Modi should first return to India as a condition for issue of a temporary travel document on humanitarian grounds?   4. When the Division Bench of the High Court set aside the cancellation of Mr Lalit Modi’s passport, who took the decision not to file an appeal to the Supreme Court? Was the ED, at whose instance the passport had been cancelled, consulted in the matter? Furthermore, who took the decision to issue a fresh passport to Mr Lalit Modi? Will the Government make public the file notings on the subject?   5. A passport is a document to travel.  To stay in a foreign country, one requires a visa or a permit from that country. Has the Government of India lodged with the UK government its objections to the grant of a long term visa or residency permit to Mr Lalit Modi who has refused to appear before the ED?   6. Mr Lalit Modi now has an Indian passport. He is an Indian citizen subject to Indian laws. What steps has the Government taken since the issue of a fresh passport to enforce the summons issued by the ED?   7. What is Government’s answer to Mr Lalit Modi’s wild charge that his life will be in danger if he returned to India? Is the NDA government incapable of protecting an Indian citizen who is required by the ED to appear for an enquiry?  

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