A fresh controversy broke out on Saturday in the Lalit Modi episode after it emerged that Mumbai Police Commissioner Rakesh Maria had met the tainted ex-IPL boss in London in 2014, when the latter sought the help of Mumbai police in view of the "threat" to his life by the underworld in that country.
Admitting that he had met Modi at the insistence of the latter's lawyer, Maria on Saturday clarified that he apprised the home minister about the meeting soon after returning from London.
Earlier in the day, a TV news channel flashed a photo which it said was of the former IPL commissioner and the Mumbai police chief.
Issuing a statement, Maria said, ‘In the month of July 2014, I officially attended a conference in London. At the conference, I was approached by an advocate representing Lalit Modi who stated that Lalit Modi wanted to meet me regarding a grave threat to his life and that of his family in London.’
Modi, the first commissioner of Indian Premier League, and others are facing probe by the Enforcement Directorate in alleged forex violation cases.
‘It may be recollected that as joint commissioner of police, crime, Mumbai, in year 2009-10, the crime branch under me had foiled an attempt on his (Modi's) life by the Mumbai underworld,’ Maria said.
Explaining the sequence of events in London, Maria said Modi's advocate had requested him to meet the latter briefly.
‘The advocate requested me that since it was a serious threat to his (Modi's) life, I should meet Lalit Modi briefly. As per the lawyer's insistence, we met, albeit briefly, wherein Lalit Modi sought the Mumbai police's help as he and his family were being threatened by the underworld,’ the statement said.
Maria said he ‘categorically’ informed Modi that the Mumbai police have no jurisdiction in London and that he should return to Mumbai to lodge a formal complaint.
‘Lalit Modi repeatedly kept requesting for Mumbai police's intervention against the underworld. I reiterated to Modi and his lawyer that it was imperative for Lalit Modi to return to Mumbai for the Mumbai police to initiate any inquiry. Thereafter, the meeting lasted barely for 15/20 minutes,’ the police commissioner said.
Explaining his position, Maria said he had immediately brought the details of the meeting to the notice of the home minister on his return to India.
‘I also maintained the requisite confidential record of the same. Besides, the anti-extortion cell of the Mumbai police was also given in writing the details of what had transpired in the meeting for discreet inquiry at their end,’ he added.
Lalit Modi has been embroiled in a row after it came to light that External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had facilitated travel documents for him in London and that Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje had reportedly favoured Modi's immigration plea in a London court.
This has sparked of a huge political controversy, with the opposition Congress dragging Prime Minister Narendra Modi's name into it and demanding the resignation of Swaraj and Raje.