Give Rs 18k cr bank guarantee to travel abroad: HC to Naresh Goyal

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NEW DELHI: The Delhi high court on Tuesday said that Naresh Goyal, promoter of the now-grounded Jet Airways, cannot be allowed to travel abroad without submitting a bank guarantee for Rs 18,000 crore.

Justice Suresh Kumar Kait turned down Goyal’s plea that he needed to travel to Dubai to arrange funds for the revival of the airline saying the money he was seeking to get could be transferred through RTGS from abroad. “If you are ready to give Rs 18,000 crore bank guarantee, you can go (abroad).”

Goyal, who along with his wife Anita was offloaded from a flight to Dubai on May 25, had challenged the ‘look-out circular’ issued to restrain him from travelling overseas. Goyal’s counsel and senior advocate Maninder Singh contended the LOC was not warranted as the promoter of Jet was neither an accused in any case nor had he been named in any FIR or complaint made by the Enforcement Directorate.

Naresh Goyal graphic

Goyal also emphasised that he had been a non-resident Indian citizen since 1991, and this required that he stayed abroad at least for 183 days a year for income-tax benefits and to maintain his residency visa in the UK and UAE.

Additional Solicitor General Maninder Acharya said LOC was issued against Goyal at the instance of the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) under the ministry of corporate affairs in connection with a probe into a Rs 18,000-crore fraud allegedly involving the shuttered airline.

In his petition filed through advocate Sakesh Kumar, Goyal challenged an office memorandum issued by the ministry of home affairs to restrict a person from travelling abroad in certain circumstances. His counsel Singh said such office memoranda could not form the basis to restrain a person from travelling abroad, and that a LOC can only be issued in accordance with law made by legislature as it concerned individual’s right to travel abroad.

The senior advocate described his client as a law-abiding citizen. While Justice Kait agreed to issue a notice to the Centre in the light of points raised by the senior advocate, he refused to grant interim relief to Goyal.

The cash-strapped Jet Airways, which stopped all operations on April 17 due to financial distress, is being probed by multiple agencies, including the corporate affairs ministry and I-T department for alleged irregularities. The LOC was issued after an inspection by the ministry found large-scale irregularities at the airline.



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