Mallya may exploit Asthana row, feel investigators

Mallya may exploit Asthana row, feel investigators

Vijay Mallya

Fugitive liquor baron Vijay Mallya may use the latest mess in the CBI to defend himself against his extradition to India from the United Kingdom to face trial in the multi-crore loan fraud case, sources said.

The Special Investigation Team (SIT) led by Asthana was monitoring the investigation and extradition process against Mallya.

India may find it difficult to counter Mallya if he seeks to rake up the allegations against senior IPS officer Rakesh Asthana, who was sent on leave along with CBI Director Alok Verma, sources said.

Investigators believe that Mallya, in his defence, would definitely use the latest episode to block his extradition. Mallya has already expressed fear about his safety in Indian jails.

It is to be seen how India manages to counter Mallya if he chooses to raise the issue of the officer, who is investigating the liquor baron, is himself facing a CBI probe on corruption charges.

The CBI had recently landed in controversy when it came to light that Mallya's look-out notice was downgraded from "detain" to "inform". The agency had then defended it as an error of judgement.

The downgrading of the look-out notice in November 2015 had helped Mallya leave the country in March 2016.