External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj today admitted that despite of the red alert issued by the government against former Indian Premier League (IPL) chairman Lalit Modi, she had helped expedite the travel documents of the controversial man enabling him to move out of London to meet his ailing wife in Portugal.
Swaraj said that she took a humanitarian view of Modi’s case since his wife was suffering from cancer.
“Sometime in July 2014 Lalit Modi spoke to me that his wife was suffering from Cancer and her surgery was fixed for 4th Aug in Portugal. He told me that he had to be present in the hospital to sign the consent papers. He informed me that he had applied for travel documents in London and UK Government was prepared to give him the travel documents,” she said in a series of tweets.
“However, they were restrained by a UPA government communication that this will spoil Indo-UK relations. Taking a humanitarian view, I conveyed to the British High Commissioner that “British Government should examine the request of Lalit Modi as per British rules and regulations. If the British Government chooses to give travel documents to Lalit Modi – that will not spoil our bilateral relations,” the tweets read further.
Swaraj further said that British MP Keith Vaz had discussed the case with her, adding that she believes that giving an Indian citizen ’emergency travel documents’ cannot spoil relations between India and the UK.
“Keith Vaz also spoke to me and I told him precisely what I told the British High Commissioner. I genuinely believe that in a situation such as this, giving emergency travel documents to an Indian citizen cannot and should not spoil relations between the two countries,” she added.
She also noted that later the Delhi High Court restored Modi’s passport.
“I may also state that only a few days later, Delhi High Court quashed UPA Government’s order impounding Lalit Modi’s Passport on the ground that the said order was unconstitutional being violative of fundamental rights and he got his Passport back,” the Minister said.
Swaraj’s revelation came in the wake of Keith Vaz, one of Britain’s longest-serving Indian-origin MPs, facing an inquiry by the UK’s parliamentary watchdog over allegations of a conflict of interest by intervening in the immigration application of Modi.
Reports suggested that Vaz personally wrote to Sarah Rapson, the director-general of UK visas and immigration, to expedite the case of Modi.
Vaz also claimed that he had checked with the Government of India before taking any action and that he had received a ‘no objection’ from New Delhi.
According to reports, he named Swaraj as the person he had been in contact with.
Modi came to London in 2010 amid claims that the IPL cricket tournament was embroiled in alleged match-fixing and illegal betting.