Mumbai special court for Prevention of Money Laundering Act issued a warrant on a plea by the Enforcement Directorate (ED).
ED had moved the special court last week seeking a non-bailable warrant against Modi after he did not respond to summons sent to him.
According to ED sources, the warrant will be sent first to the Ministry of External Affairs and then the Ministry will send it to United Kingdom, where Modi is currently residing. Former IPL chief left the country shortly after the ED began its probe against him in 2009. Allegations of tax evasion and money-laundering were levelled against him.
Before issuing the warrant and agreeing to ED’s plea, Judge PR Bhavake questioned the probe agency’s delay in seeking the warrant. The court also raised jurisdictional issues like if a NBW can be issued during investigation and why the ED hadn’t yet arrested Modi.
ED’s lawyer Hiten Venegoankar argued that an NBW should be issued because Lalit Modi was not available in India Also, Modi had not complied with the summons issued to him since 2009, said the lawyer.
Judge Bhavake also raised the question if an NBW can be issued against someone who has not yet been named in a chargesheet. Lawyer Venegoankar then argued that the case was at the stage of pre-investigation and the Supreme Court in a previous ruling had said that NBW can be issued during investigation.
Back in 2010, BCCI registered an FIR against Lalit Modi in Chennai in connection with a deal between MSM Singapore (which owns the channel Sony) and WSG media, a sports marketing and event management company.
BCCI had given away media rights to WSG for USD 918 million for a period of 10 years in 2008. However, WSG then entered into a deal with MSM to make Sony the official broadcaster. The contract was replaced later with a nine-year deal where MSM paid USD 1.63 billion.
A year after that, in 2009, ED began a probe under Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) to investigate allegations that a payment of Rs 425 crore facilitation fee was paid to WSG Mauritius by MSM Singapore in an unauthorised manner.
Last month, the court had issued Letters Rogatory (LR) to Singapore and Mauritius, seeking assistance in the case.
Lalit Modi has been in the eye of a storm recently. He is one of the main reasons behind the Parliament deadlock between the government and the Opposition. The Opposition has alleged that External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj aided the ‘fugitive’ Lalit Modi in obtaining travel papers to the UK. Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje’s son has also been alleged to have had financial transactions with Lalit Modi. The Opposition has been demanding resignations of both BJP leaders over their involvement in the Lalit Modi row.