New Delhi, Feb 21 (PTI) The Delhi High Court today directed the Centre not to take any coercive steps against businessman Pramod Mittal in connection with a notice sent to him asking why his passport should not be impounded for concealing information about the criminal cases being faced by him.

Justice Rajiv Shakdher however asked the businessman to reply to the show cause notice of December 29 last year issued to him by the passport authority and listed his plea for further hearing on May 23. Mittal is steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal’s younger brother.

The court also issued notice to the Centre and sought its reply to Mittal’s plea challenging the show cause notice.

In March last year, the CBI had registered a case of cheating and corruption against Mittal, former chairman of Global Steel Holdings (GSHL), and top former officials of the State Trading Corporation for allegedly causing a loss of Rs 2,112 crore to the public sector undertaking. The case was registered on the basis of a complaint from the PSU.

Senior advocate Sandeep Sethi, appearing for the businessman, had contended that the present proceedings were identical to the ones initiated against him last year and in which the government’s decision to impound his passport was set aside by the appellate authority.

The senior lawyer also asked how could there be fresh proceedings on the same cause of action. Mittal had filed the petition through his representative Uday Pratap Singh.

The government in its defence contended that the businessman had “concealed the facts that criminal cases are pending against him. In addition to that, he has defaulted on a large sum to the State Trading Corporation of India Ltd”.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.