The Indian government has suspended the diplomatic passport of willful defaulter abd business baron Vijay Mallya, who is currently in the United Kingdom.
The Ministry of External Affairs tweeted on Friday afternoon, saying:
Mallya is a Rajya Sabha MP, which qualifies him for a diplomatic passport. Following the suspension, a notice will be issued to Mallya giving him one week to explain why his regular passport should not also be revoked. If he does not respond, the ministry will go ahead and revoke his regular passport.
Earlier this week, the Enforcement Directorate had reportedly asked the MEA to revoke his passport since he repeatedly failed to appear before the Supreme Court in connection with the repayment of bank loans totalling Rs 9,000 crore. Mallya left the country for the United Kingdom on March 2.
What does this mean?
Right now, Vijay Mallya cannot travel out of his current location to any other place outside the UK using his Indian passport. After one week, if the Indian government decides to revoke or impound Mallya's passport, he becomes a persona non-grata. Then India can recall him or United Kingdom can tell Mallya that he is unwelcome in the country and send him back.
But Mallya has many options available with him including fighting it out legally and applying for 'Indefinite leave to remain'.
The ED had written to the Ministry to take action under the Passport Act, 1967 and ask the Delhi Regional Passport Office (RPO) to revoke the diplomatic passport that Mallya had been issued as a Rajya Sabha MP, since he was "un-cooperative" with ED investigators inquiring into the criminal case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). The agency has also cited various pending court cases against Mallya in connection with alleged loan de-frauds and dishonouring of cheques.
The ED said that despite cooperating with Mallya thrice by way of providing him fresh dates for personal appearance, the Investigating Officer (IO) of the case has only been met with "non-cooperation" which was delaying investigation.
The liquor baron was called a willful defaulter in November 2015 by the State Bank of India.