Controversial businessman Vijay Mallya flew out of India on March 2 on a diplomatic passport issued to him in his capacity as a Member of Parliament. A CBI source said Mallya, an independent member of Rajya Sabha from Karnataka, is a frequent flyer and has been using his diplomatic passport. MPs can apply for diplomatic passports and they don’t need to seek clearance from the ministry of external affairs for overseas trips on personal grounds.
A diplomatic passport is a passport which is issued to someone who must travel internationally on official state business. Diplomatic passports are classically given to diplomats and consuls when they are posted overseas, and they may be issued to other people within the government as well, depending on the circumstances. Diplomatic passports are usually a different color from other types of passports, making them very easy to identify; black is a classic color for diplomatic passports. Carrying a diplomatic passport does not entitle someone to diplomatic immunity.
Mallya is an independent MP in the Rajya Sabha from Karnataka and his serving his second term. The Parliament secretariat approaches the MEA’s Parliament and Coordination Division and Consular & Passport Division on behalf of MPs for seeking clearances and suggestions ahead of their trips abroad on invitations from national legislatures, on study tours and to speak and participate at forums all across the globe. “They seek the MEA’s advice on the level of participation on such platforms and the importance of such forums… The ministry in turn seeks advice from Indian embassies in host countries and accordingly makes suggestions,” an official said.
Experts and senior diplomats told ET that as the legislature is technically placed on a higher pedestal than the executive, MPs are not under compulsion to apprise the MEA about their private tours. It is understood that Mallya did not approach the ministry ahead of his current trip to the UK. An official said Mallya would not have approached the passport division for a note verbal to travel to the UK if he had a valid visa for that country.