The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Saturday rejected the allegation of Congress president Rahul Gandhi that an officer of the probe agency helped fugitive tycoon Vijay Mallya escape. The CBI said that the "lookout circular" against Mallya was not changed by any individual but the decision was taken at the "appropriate level".
The Congress president had alleged that CBI Joint Director AK Sharma, a Gujarat cadre officer who was described as PM Modi's "blue-eyed boy" by the Gandhi scion, weakened Mallya’s “Look Out” notice, allowing him to flee the country.
“CBI Jt. Director, A K Sharma, weakened Mallya’s “Look Out” notice, allowing Mallya to escape. Mr Sharma, a Gujarat cadre officer, is the PM’s blue-eyed-boy in the CBI. The same officer was in charge of Nirav Modi & Mehul Choksi’s escape plans. Ooops... investigation! (Sic),” Gandhi had tweeted.
Soon after Gandhi’s remark, the CBI came out with the explanation and defended its officer terming the charges “baseless”.
“As has been stated a no of times earlier, the decision to change LOC against Vijay Mallya was taken as at the time there was not sufficient ground for CBI to detain and arrest him. The decision was taken at an appropriate level as a part of the process and not individually by the officer as alleged,” said the CBI, which comes under the jurisdiction of the Personnel, Public Grievances Ministry headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Earlier on Wednesday, the Congress leader had demanded Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to resign after Mallya’s claim that he met the Union minister before leaving India. Congress leader PL Punia also concurred with Mallya’s claim and said that he saw the two having a "15-minute sit-down meeting in Parliament".
Jaitley, however, rebutted the charges and said that he had not given Mallya an appointment since 2014, therefore, the “question of meeting does not arise”.
The 62-year-old former boss of now-grounded Kingfisher airlines is wanted in India for a loan default case worth Rs 9,000 crore. He left India in March 2016 and currently residing in London. He is fighting an extradition case filed by the Indian government in the UK.