Deadline expires, Lalit Modi buys more time

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> The deadline for the suspended IPL chairman Lalit Modi to respond to the Enforcement Directorate's blue corner notice expired on Thursday.

Updated: October 28, 2010 16:13 IST
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The deadline for the suspended IPL chairman Lalit Modi to respond to the Enforcement Directorate's blue corner notice expired on Thursday but there is still no sign of the man.

A fugitive on the run he may not be but with Modi's stubborn refusal to return to India for questioning, the various agencies investigating his case are now getting impatient.

"He is not absconding at all. He has no reason to abscond. He has been replying to all the showcause notices issued by the ED from time to time. All explanations have been given. Where is the need for such a loose expression," said Mehmood Abdi, Lalit Modi's lawayer.

Abdi also said that in response to Regional Passport Office's show cause notice to Modi as to why his passport should not be cancelled, his client had sought clarification as to when the deadline for response expires.

"We have also asked the RPO what documents they have relied on while issuing the notice on October 15," Abdi said.

He said that before responding to the notice, Modi must know what was the "reference of Enforcement Directorate" to the RPO, following which notice was issued.

Notice required that Modi file reply within 15 days, but Abdi said that the period of 15 days should start from the date of receipt, which was October 20. "So according to us, deadline expires on November 4. We have sent a letter to RPO seeking clarification on October 26, but there has been no reply.

In the letter Modi also clarified that he was available for questioning by the Enforcement Directorate and also said that he had replied to all the summons by the ED and that he has a threat to his life.

"There is threat to his life from some unwanted elements, and he will not return till the situation alters," Abdi said.

While Modi has offered to fly investigating officers to London - where he has been ever since the scandal over financial irregularities in the IPL broke - government agencies now have contrasting views on how to conduct the probe.

Sources have told NDTV that the Finance Ministry is seeking an opinion from the Law Ministry on Modi's interrogation. The Income Tax officials fear that jurisdiction issues may arise if Modi is questioned in London. The I-T department is now trying to ascertain whether it is legal to conduct an interrogation on foreign soil via videoconferencing.

However, there are major difference between the I-T department and the ED on how to proceed. While the I-T is keen to question Modi in London, the ED would prefer to revoke his passport and have Modi deported.

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