Jet Airways chief Naresh Goyal (File Photo)
The Delhi High Court on Tuesday refused to allow Naresh Goyal to leave India, days after the embattled Jet Airways founder moved the court, challenging the travel ban imposed on him. The court also sought Centre's response on Goyal's plea challenging a Look Out Circular (LOC) issued against him. The respondents are directed to file their reply by the next hearing, which is scheduled to take place on August 23, 2019. The court has postponed the date of hearing from August 19 to August 23 on a special request by the Centre's counsel.
Justice Suresh Kait said no interim relief can be granted to Goyal at this stage, adding that he may deposit Rs 18,000 crore guarantee if he wants to travel to a foreign country now.
Earlier, the court was scheduled to hear Goyal's plea on July 5, but later listed the matter for hearing on Tuesday. The postponment comes after Justice Vibhu Bakhru recused himself from the hearing, saying Goyal's plea will have to go before another bench.
There is a Look Out Circular (LOC) against Goyal, barring him from travelling outside the country. The notice has been issued following an inspection by the Corporate Affairs Ministry found large-scale irregularities at Jet Airways, which shuttered operations in April due to acute cash crunch.
Goyal, however, in his plea contended that the LOC was issued against him on the request of the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) which comes under the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA).
The Jet Airways founder further said no ECIR/FIR has been registered against him and he has not been named as an accused in any case warranting issuance of the LOC. He also sought quashing of the LOC as well as several office memorandums which lay down the guidelines for issuing the travel ban.
On May 25, Goyal and his wife Anita Goyal were stopped from leaving the country by immigration authorities at Mumbai airport minutes before their aircraft was about to take off for London via Dubai. A Look Out Circular is issued against a person directing the immigration authorities to ensure that he or she does not leave India through an airport or a seaport.
Meanwhile, officials closed to the MCA said that the ministry would vehemently oppose Goyal's plea seeking permission to travel abroad, especially considering the public interest involved. Thousands of the airline's employees have not been paid their salaries and the banks have also been left high and dry. Against this backdrop, the ministry would oppose Goyal's plea, they added.
Naresh and Anita Goyal had resigned from the board of Jet Airways, which the former founded 26 years ago, in March following a debt restructuring plan. He had also resigned as the airline's chairman. Jet Airways is currently undergoing insolvency proceedings. Meanwhile, the ministry has also ordered a probe by the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) into the affairs of Jet Airways.