Govt should ensure Modi returns to face probe: Chidambaram

Govt should ensure Modi returns to face probe: Chidambaram

Govt should ensure Modi returns to face probe: Chidambaram

Rejecting allegations of vendetta levelled against him and the UPA, former Finance Minister P Chidambaram today demanded that the government should ensure that Lalit Modi returns to India to face the probe by Enforcement Directorate on various charges, including money laundering.

Addressing a press conference, he said External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj's action in helping the tainted former IPL boss get travel documents from the UK was in violation of rules and a case of favouritism shown to someone she knew.

He also demanded as to who decided not to appeal against the Delhi High Court decision to restore the passport of Modi last year as normally a reversing decision is always challenged in a higher court.

The Congress leader wanted the government to release the letters exchanged between him as Finance Minister and the Chancellor of Exchequer George Osborne in which he had urged for sending Modi back to India since he was facing criminal charges here.

He said after the reply to his first letter, he had written a second letter couched in stronger words to Osborne that Modi was facing investigations in India, his passport has been revoked, he had no right to live in the UK and he should be sent back to India.

Chidambaram raised the question if Swaraj wanted to help Modi as a humanitarian gesture as was being claimed why did she not write to the Indian High Commission and ask for the issue of Indian travel documents to him instead of recommending issue of UK travel documents.

Chidambaram demanded disclosure of file notings in the MEA about who decided not to appeal against the High Court order. "Someone had taken the decision and I would like to know who took it."

"When a division bench of the high court sets aside cancellation of Lalit Modi's passport, who took the decision not to file an appeal in the Supreme Court. Was ED at whose instance the passport was cancelled consulted in the matter. Furthermore, who took the decision to issue a fresh passport to Lalit Modi. Will the government make public file notings," he said.

The former minister said Modi was an Indian passport holder and his stay in London without visa was in violation of all rules and that was one of the grounds on which his return was demanded.

"Why did Swaraj help him get a long term visa or a residency of Britain when he was facing serious criminal charges in India," Chidambaram said.

If it was a question of humanitarian ground, then why did she not stress on Modi's return to India to face charges while helping him get travel documents, he said adding it was clearly a case of abuse of authority and violations of rules.

The charges under provisions of FEMA and Money Laundering Act were serious criminal offences levelled against Modi, he said.

On the charge of vendetta he said Finance Minister Arun Jaitley's reply yesterday that notices in 15 of the 16 cases against Modi still stood spoke for itself.

Asked why Modi was not barred from leaving India in 2010, the former Finance Minister said, "At that time there was no ban on his travel and that it was only a stage of inquiry. Why do you assume he will not return."

Asked about the Prime Minister's silence, he referred to Jaitley's reply yesterday that the whole government shared a collective responsibility for decisions taken by a minister and said, "I assume that the Prime Minister takes responsibility as PM."

Replying to other questions, Chidambaram said on the basis of facts disclosed so far it was an abuse of authority and violation of rules.

To a question about the defence by BJP of Swaraj after RSS came out in her support, he said, "It shows who is the master."

To a BJP charge that Congress has raked up the issue because there are woman leaders, he said it was rubbish and told journalists not to lend dignity to such allegations by raising them.

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