Gujarat cadre officer in CBI helped Vijay Mallya escape: report

Then CBI Joint Director AK Sharma is said to have ordered downgrading of the look-out notice for industrialist Vijay Mallya on his own, without informing the CBI Director

Photo by Mujeeb Faruqui/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
Photo by Mujeeb Faruqui/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
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NH Web Desk

In a fresh twist to fugitive industrialist Vijay Mallya’s escape to London in March, 2016, NDTV on Friday, September 14 revealed that former Gujarat Cadre IPS officer and the then Joint Director in the Central Bureau of Investigation, AK Sharma, had unilaterally changed and diluted the ‘Look-Out Notice’ from ‘detain’ to ‘report departure’. Political Editor of NDTV Sunetra Choudhary reported that the then CBI Director, Anil Kumar Sinha, was kept in the dark.

Even as Vijay Mallya was flying to London on March 2, the CBI Director was flying into Mumbai for a meeting with bankers. Sinha learnt from the bankers the next day that Vijay Mallya had left for London after checking in as many as 54 bags as his checked-in luggage. CBI director Sinha apparently had no explanation when asked why Mallya was allowed to leave.

As reported earlier, senior lawyer Dushyant Dave has also gone on record saying that he had advised State Bank of India (SBI) on February 28 to approach the court for impounding Mallya’s passport. But the application was not filed till March 8, a week after Mallya left.

According to the NDTV report, the CBI director on his return from Mumbai to the CBI headquarters in Delhi learnt that Joint Director Arun Kumar Sharma had changed the look-out notice without informing Sinha.

Even as Vijay Mallya was flying to London on March 2, the CBI Director was flying into Mumbai for a meeting with bankers. According to the NDTV report, the CBI director on his return from Mumbai to the CBI headquarters in Delhi learnt that Joint Director Arun Kumar Sharma had changed the look-out notice without informing Sinha

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had inducted several Gujarat cadre officers in the CBI in 2015. With the CBI reporting to the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) which is directly under the PMO, high level appointments in the CBI are routinely done with the approval of the Prime Minister.

Induction of both Sharma and YC Modi into the CBI had triggered controversy. Modi, from the Assam-Meghalaya cadre, was part of the CBI team which investigated the Haren Pandya murder case. Pandya, a former home minister of Gujarat and a political rival of Narendra Modi, was gunned down in a park in Gandhinagar by alleged extremists in 2003. Pandya’s family, however, pointed fingers elsewhere and accused the CBI of derailing the investigation.

The Gujarat High Court in 2011 acquitted 12 persons in the Pandya murder case and criticised the CBI for a “botched-up and blinkered investigation”. The officer’s Gujarat connection was renewed in 2010 when he was inducted into the Special Investigation Team headed by former CBI director RK Raghavan to investigate the Gujarat riots. In a curious coincidence, YC Modi investigated the three most important cases involving the post-Godhra riots, namely Gulberg Society, Naroda Patiya and Naroda Gam.

Arun Kumar Sharma was posted to the CBI as joint director in 2015. Sharma, an IPS officer, was IG (Intelligence) in the state in 2013 when Cobrapost and Gulail.com reported on what came to be known as ‘Snoopgate’. Audio tapes released in the public domain claimed that the Gujarat Police conducted illegal surveillance on the movement of a young woman, a Bangalore-based architect of Gujarati origin.

Over 239 conversations between the then Gujarat home minister Amit Shah and Gujarat police officers were released to show Shah was not only monitoring the surveillance but was also perturbed that ‘Saheb’ seemed to be receiving more information than the sleuths brought to Shah and ahead of him too. In 39 more audio tapes released later, it was claimed that the IG (Intelligence) Sharma could be heard telling his own people to conduct a parallel surveillance of the woman, not just in Gujarat but also in Karnataka.

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Published: 15 Sep 2018, 7:29 AM