New Delhi, June 17:
The external affairs ministry can approach the Supreme Court to revoke the passport of former IPL commissioner Lalit Modi, who has been termed a “fugitive” by the opposition Congress, only after the Enforcement Directorate (ED) approaches it, said sources.
The ED, which has charged Lalit Modi with financial impropriety in the money-spinning Indian Premier League cricket tourney, has to approach the external affairs ministry which in turn has to present “compelling reasons” to the apex court to overturn the Delhi High Court’s August 27, 2014, order to restore the passport to Modi, sources told IANS.
Lalit Modi has been living in London since 2010 following the ED charges against him.
His passport was revoked by the previous United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government.
Lalit Modi appealed against the decision in the Delhi High Court, which in August last year restored his passport.
The present government, which came to power in May last year, did not challenge the decision in the Supreme Court.
In order to overturn the Delhi High Court decision, the ED will have to approach the MEA and the ministry’s passport authority will have to present “new facts and new points” on which the court decision can be challenged, said the sources.
The news of Lalit Modi’s passport has evoked much interest after External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj helped him to procure documents to travel to Portugal for medical treatment of his cancer-stricken wife in July last year.
Within days of her intervention, the Delhi High Court restored his passport.
Sushma Swaraj has said she helped Modi on “humanitarian grounds”.
The Congress has cried foul over Sushma Swaraj helping Lalit Modi to travel from London to another country and not asking him to return to India to face the ED probe.
In Chennai, former finance minister P. Chidambaram said Sushma Swaraj should have asked Lalit Modi to go to the Indian High Commission with request for his temporary travel documents, instead of bypassing it.
He said the “conduct of Sushma Swaraj in facilitating travel papers for Lalit Modi raises several questions”.
He said Modi’s passport was cancelled in 2011 at the request of the ED.
The ED issued show-cause notices and summons to Lalit Modi but he did not respond, he said.
The senior Congress leader has demanded that the government release the letters the previous UPA dispensation sent to the British authorities on the Lalit Modi issue.
“In the interest of transparency, the government of India should release the letters written to the UK Chancellor on the Lalit Modi case,” he tweeted.
On Tuesday, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said a blue corner notice served to Lalit Modi in 2010 by the ED on the directions of the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence still stands. (IANS)