Taking cognizance of media reports that the Indian High Commissioner in UK, Navtej Sarna, attended a function where liquor baron Vijay Mallya too was present, the Ministry of External Affairs on Saturday said that the controversial business tycoon was not on the invitee list.
“The list of invitations for the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) was determined by LSE. They have written to the High Commissioner that Mallya was not on their list,” the Ministry said in a statement.
It further said the book release event graced among others by UK Minister Jo Johnson was well advertised through social media and the attendees “were not required” to register.
It said when High Commissioner Sarna “spotted” Mallya in the audience he left the stage and venue immediately after making his comments “and without waiting for the interactive session”.
The statement also said, “Mallya was certainly not an invitee to the reception at the (Indian) High Commission for which the invitations were issued by the High Commission, and was not present”.
The presence of Mallya at the book release event has sparked off controversy as Mallya has been declared a “proclaimed offender” by a Mumbai court.
On June 14, a special court in Mumbai declared liquor baron Mallya a “proclaimed offender” in bank loans default and money-laundering cases against him.
The prosecution and the Enforcement Directorate, which is probing the case against Mallya, had urged the court to declare Mallya as a ‘proclaimed offender’ to facilitate his deportation from Britain, where he is currently based since the past around four months.
A non-bailable arrest warrant was issued in connection with the investigations into cases lodged against him.
Congress leader Manish Tewari criticised the government for allegedly soft-peddling the probe against Mallya.
“They are not serious about getting him (Mallya) back. The Indian High Commissioner in England understands and therefore he did not see any problem in attending the same event,” Tewari told a TV channel.