Chief Information Commissioner has pulled up the finance ministry headed by Arun Jaitley for saying that it did not have information about the loans given to industrialist Vijay Mallya. The CIC said that the response by the finance ministry was ‘vague and not sustainable as per law,’ reported PTI.
While hearing an appeal by one Rajiv Kumar Khare, Chief Information Commissioner RK Mathur, reminded the finance ministry official that the Right to Information (RTI) application filed by the applicant should be transferred to the proper public authority within five days.
The finance ministry’s latest claims stating ignorance on loans given to Vjay Mallya is in sharp contradiction with its own stand on the same issue in the past. The ministry has responded to questions both within and outside the parliament on Mallya’s loans.
In March 2017, Union Minister of State for Finance Santosh Gangwar had responded to a question on Mallya stating that the person, whose name was mentioned (Mallya), was given a loan in September 2004 and that it was reviewed in February 2008.
Gangwar had said that the Rs. 8,040 crore loan was declared a non-performing asset (NPA) in 2009 and the NPA was restructured in 2010.
“As reported by PSBs, an amount of Rs. 155 crore has been recovered by conducting a mega online auction by selling from the seized properties from defaulting loan borrower Vijay Mallya,” Gangwar had told the Rajya Sabha on 21 March.
Gangwar’s boss and Union Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley too, while taking part in a debate on demonetisation in the Rajya Sabha on 17 November, 2016, had termed the loan issue of Mallya a “terrible legacy” that the NDA government had inherited from the previous UPA regime.
In March 2017, the same year, this is what Jaitley had said about Mallya, “… his (Mallya’s) facts are very clear. Every government agency, whether its taxation department or investigative agency, wherever he has violated law, is going to take strong action. As far as banks are concerned, they are going to recover every penny of the rupee that they can from him.”
A month later, while speaking to reporters, Jaitley had said, “I think the government and all the investigating agencies are certainly putting (in) their best efforts because the agencies do believe that an offence has been committed for which the person (Mallya) is required in India.”
It is in this context that many are perplexed with the finance ministry’s stunning claim that it did not have any information on the loans given to Mallya.
Mallya, promoter of now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines, had left India on 2 March, understandably for London, days before Supreme Court heard a plea of clutch of state-owned banks seeking recovery of over Rs 9,000 crore from his group firms.