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Byju’s Co-founder Gets a Look Out Notice, Everything You Must Know About This Legal Notice

Raveendran, the founder and CEO of Byju’s, has come under ED examination. ED had issued a lookout circular.

Raveendran, the founder and CEO of the well-known edtech firm Byju’s, has come under the Enforcement Directorate‘s (ED) examination following the release of a lookout circular (LOC) last month. Initially, the ED had issued a lookout circular ‘on intimation,’ indicating that immigration authorities would notify relevant officials of any foreign travels by Raveendran. However, the current circular grants the authority to prevent him from departing the country.

What is Look-out Notice

A Look-out Notice is a legal instrument used by law enforcement agencies, such as the police or immigration authorities, to monitor and restrict the movement of individuals. It is issued to prevent a person from leaving a country or to alert authorities about their movements. The circular is typically circulated to all immigration check posts and border control authorities, instructing them to inform the issuing agency if the person named in the circular attempts to travel in or out of the country.

When is a Look-out Notice Issued

Look-out Circulars (LOC) can be issued against individuals in various situations where authorities have concerns about their movements. Some common scenarios include:

  1. Criminal Investigations: Look-out Circulars are often issued in the context of ongoing criminal investigations. Individuals who are subjects of investigations, suspects, or persons of interest may have an LOC issued against them to prevent them from leaving the country.
  2. Pending Legal Proceedings: If an individual is involved in legal proceedings, such as court cases, and there is a risk that they may try to leave the country to evade legal action, authorities may issue an LOC.
  3. Financial Irregularities: Individuals involved in financial crimes or irregularities, such as fraud, embezzlement, or money laundering, may have an LOC issued against them to prevent them from fleeing and to facilitate their apprehension.
  4. National Security Concerns: In cases where there are national security concerns or an individual is suspected of engaging in activities that pose a threat to the country, authorities may issue a look-out circular.
  5. Violation of Immigration Laws: Individuals who have violated immigration laws or overstayed their visas may be subject to an LOC to prevent them from leaving the country.

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) provides fundamental directives concerning the issuance of Look-out Circulars (LOCs) concerning Indian citizens. The determination to issue a Look-out Circular is generally made by law enforcement or investigative agencies, taking into account the unique circumstances of each case.

Difference Between Look-out Notice and Red Corner Notice

How is a Look-out Notice different from an Interpol Notice? The main aim of a Look-out Notice is to stop someone suspected of a crime from leaving or entering a country without being noticed. On the other hand, Interpol’s Red Corner Notice ensures that if someone has left a country or is suspected of running away, they are caught whenever they try to enter or leave another country

When a person with a Red Corner Notice arrives in a new country, the immigration officer there informs the country that requested their detention.

Why Byju’s CEO Received a Look-out Notice

In 2022, Byju’s, valued at $22 billion and the most valued Indian startup, made headlines by appointing football star Lionel Messi as its global ambassador and becoming an official sponsor of the 2022 FIFA World Cup. However, concerns arose when the company delayed its audited financial reports for 18 months.

When Byju’s finally disclosed its FY21 results in September 2022, it revealed significant losses of Rs 4588 crore, nearly 15 times more than the previous fiscal year. This happened during a time when online education companies were flourishing due to the COVID-19 lockdowns.

Despite the losses, Byju’s secured $250 million from its existing investor, Davidson Kempner. Pressure intensified in December 2022 when creditors demanded immediate part payment for a $1.2 billion loan from Redwood. In response, Byju’s took legal action against Redwood in a New York court.

Amidst these challenges, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) investigated Byju’s parent company, Think and Learn Private Limited, and the CEO Raveendran’s house in April 2023 for suspected foreign exchange law violations. In November 2023, the ED issued a show cause notice alleging violations of Rs 9362.35 crore under FEMA.

Facing employee layoffs, grievances, and customer complaints, Byju’s further suffered when the ED ordered a ‘Look-out Circular on intimation’ against Raveendran 1.5 years ago. This meant immigration authorities had to inform the ED if Raveendran traveled outside India. The recent ED order now imposes a complete ban on Raveendran leaving the country

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