This Article is From Jun 26, 2015

Charges Against Lalit Modi Weak, Government May Use Tougher Law: Sources

File photo of former IPL Commissioner Lalit Modi.

New Delhi/Jaipur:

The BJP appears to be backing Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje, who is embroiled in a controversy over supporting disgraced cricket tycoon Lalit Modi's immigration appeal to UK in 2011. In Delhi, posting an exclusively strong defence for Ms Raje, top government sources denied the charge against her that she helped Lalit Modi, who, the Congress claims, is a fugitive.

Sources said Mr Modi faces charges under the Foreign Exchange Maintenance Act or FEMA, which does not have provisions for arrest. A senior leader said the NDA government had "inherited" this fault from the UPA regime, as FEMA involves only recoveries not arrest, and that's why technically Lalit Modi cannot be termed a "fugitive".

Another leader added that the strongest indictment against Lalit Modi came from a BCCI committee headed by Mr Jaitley.

Going a step further in an attempt to prove that helping Mr Modi was not a government agenda, a senior leader said the government is keen amend the lacunae soon.

The government is likely to explore the legal possibility of involving provisions of money laundering against Mr Modi under the Money Laundering Act, which has a provision for arrest. This is how, with the help of a court order, he can be brought back to India to face the legal system, the leader said.

Last night, the Congress released a seven-page affidavit signed by Ms Raje, in which she described the Indian investigation against Mr Modi as "a full frontal attack" that was "politically motivated."

BJP sources say the party is likely to claim that the affidavit was presented by Ms Raje as personal support and not in her official capacity as the then Leader of Opposition in Rajasthan. She returned as Chief Minister for a second term in 2013.

Union Minister Arun Jaitley, who returned from the US today, defended Ms Raje, saying, "There is nobody who is tainted". Union minister Venkaiah Naidu said, "As far as party is concerned, everything is happening positively."

A press release from Ms Raje's office earlier on Thursday said she had not been asked by the party to resign. The statement complained about "unsubstantiated media reports" and also denied that she was likely to travel to Delhi soon to meet the BJP's top bosses.