New Delhi: The CBI said on Thursday that the change in a 2015 lookout circular against liquor baron Vijay Mallya from "detain" to merely informing about his movements was an "error" in judgment. The change was made keeping in mind his cooperation in the probe and the fact that there was no warrant against him.

Three years later as the controversy surfaced again on Thursday, CBI sources said when the first lookout circular (LoC) was issued on October 12, 2015, Mallya was already abroad. Upon his return, the agency was asked by the Bureau of Immigration (BoI), if Mallya should be detained as sought in the LoC to which the CBI said there was no need to arrest or detain him as he was a sitting MP and there was no warrant against him, they said.

They said the agency only wanted information on his movement.

Besides, the probe was in an initial stage and the CBI was collecting documents from the IDBI in the Rs 900 crore loan default case, they added.

CBI issued a fresh LoC against Mallya in the last week of November 2015 asking airport authorities across the country to "inform" them about Mallya's movements, thus replacing its previous circular which had sought detention of the businessman if he attempted to leave the country.

The LoC depends on the issuing authority and, unless it asks the BoI to detain a person or to stop him from boarding a plane, no action is taken.

The sources said Mallya travelled abroad in October and returned in November, then made two trips in first and last week of December and also a trip in January 2016.

In between, he had appeared for questioning thrice since the look-out notices were issued - once in New Delhi and twice in Mumbai between December 9 and 12, 2015.

They said the change in the notice was an error in judgment and since he had been cooperating, there was no reason to stop him from moving abroad.

On March 2, 2016, Mallya left the country and has been in the United Kingdom where he has been fighting the extradition case.