Hindustan Zinc Disinvestment Case: Supreme Court Decides To Examine Status Report By CBI, Adjourns Hearing To Tuesday

first_imgTop StoriesHindustan Zinc Disinvestment Case: Supreme Court Decides To Examine Status Report By CBI, Adjourns Hearing To Tuesday Srishti Ojha6 April 2021 7:28 AMShare This – xSupreme Court has on Tuesday observed that it will examine the status report submitted by CBI in matter regarding disinvestment of the Government’s shares in Hindustan Zinc Limited in 2002A three-judge Bench of CJI Bobde, Justice Bopanna and Justice Ramasubramanian has decided to go through the Status report and take up the matter on Tuesday. The Court was hearing a plea by…Your free access to Live Law has expiredTo read the article, get a premium account.Your Subscription Supports Independent JournalismSubscription starts from ₹ 599+GST (For 6 Months)View PlansPremium account gives you:Unlimited access to Live Law Archives, Weekly/Monthly Digest, Exclusive Notifications, Comments.Reading experience of Ad Free Version, Petition Copies, Judgement/Order Copies.Subscribe NowAlready a subscriber?LoginSupreme Court has on Tuesday observed that it will examine the status report submitted by CBI in matter regarding disinvestment of the Government’s shares in Hindustan Zinc Limited in 2002A three-judge Bench of CJI Bobde, Justice Bopanna and Justice Ramasubramanian has decided to go through the Status report and take up the matter on Tuesday. The Court was hearing a plea by National Confederation of Officers’ Associations of Central Public Sector Undertakings questioning the Centre’s decision to disinvest in Hindustan Zinc.The Bench expressed its inclination towards deciding separately, the two prayers made in the plea, regarding government disinvesting its shareholding and investigation done by the CBIzDuring the hearing, Adv Prashant Bhushan appearing on behalf of the petitioner submitted that two prayers have been made.First is a prayer seeking mandamus directing the govt from disinvesting its residual shareholding that it was still holding at 29.5 % without amending the MMTC act through which HZ was Nationalised. The act says that assets of this undertaking will remain vested in the Government or a government company.Bhushan added that exactly similar case circumstance was there in case of Hindustan Petroleum, and Supreme Court’s judgement had clearly said that they cannot render it a non government company by privatising it without amending the Act.Bhushan stated that the Second prayer is to direct CBI to file status report in this Court from time to time in investigation being carried out, and for court to monitor the investigation till filing of chargesheet in appropriate court. Regarding this investigation, SC had asked them to file status report and entire case diary before Court in sealed cover.Bhushan further stated that he has filed an additional affidavit where he has pointed that CBI was conducting a preliminary inquiry, where view of investigating officers including enquiry officers, Senior Public Prosecutor and Head of Branch had all recommended converting this PE to a regular case. The Director of Prosecution had also recommended it to be registered as a regular case. But thereafter they said they decided to close preliminary inquiry and not register an FIR.Bhushan submitted that the Court is aware that Law on this is very clear and has been settled in Constitution Bench judgement in Lalita Kumari’s case, which says clearly that wherever allegation is that of cognizable offence, FIR has to be registered and investigation has to be carried out.Bhushan added that the Court should go through the investigation process, as its very serious considering all officials had said that it should be registered as a regular case. No reason has been given to the complainant as to why the case was not made a regular case despite recommendations from all concerned officers.”There were news reports which said that it was ultimately referred to the then Attorney General and the then AG opined that there was no need to file a regular case. The then AG happens to be the lawyer for this Vedanta Company. ” Bhushan Said.SG Mehta opposed Bhushan’s statement and asked him to not abuse any individual or institution.”Don’t abuse every individual and every institution. Mr Rohatgi who appeared in this matter for Vedanta has not given any opinion in this matter.” SG Mehta said.”This person , the lordships must stop him. He has formed a habit of making accusations against every individual and every Institution and he is getting emboldened. Your Lordships magnanimity is being taken to be a weakness.” SG added”Your Lordships majesty is being misunderstood by him. I am sorry to say this. He is not at on a public platform or addressing a public rally!” SG clarified. Bhushan stated that he has said this in his affidavit and filed newspaper reports as well.Bhushan, continued his submissions and stated that, at this stage we are saying the Court can do two things. As per Lalita Kumari judgement, the complainant is entitled to get copy of reasons why this wasn’t converted into a regular case.Bench observed that two prayers have been made and Court can adjudicate both prayers independent of each other. “If your claim on second is correct, we can still adjudicate on the first no?” “It will have direct impact on the first.” Bhushan Said.Bhushan further stated that what the other side is now saying is that as the original privatisation has already been done, and therefore government’s holding has been reduced to 30% it is no longer a government company. Therefore violation of the Act has already been done and any further disinvestment will not make any difference.At this instance the Bench stated that it can can look at the status report and take the matter up next Tuesday. Adv Harish Salve for Vedanta submitted that after the first privatisation which was upheld by the Court when a petition filed was dismissed, Privatisation is over. It is no longer a government company because they have fallen below 51%.Salve added that today what is being prevented by this petition Is the government encashing its right to sell of shares in a non government company. “At least let the sale go on. What is the problem with the sale?” Salve said.SG Mehta added that the sale would be through SEBI rules, it will be through an open offer. CJI stated that the Bench prima facie thinks that these two issues are different. “I don’t see why first prayer cannot be decided without the second.” CJI said.The Bench observed that it wants to read the status report and take it up next Tuesday. Supreme Court had in July last year stated that it will examine as to why the Central Bureau of Investigation took the decision of closing the its probe into allegations of corruption into disinvestment of the Government’s shares in Hindustand Zinc Limited in 2002.A bench of Chief Justice SA Bobde, R. Subhash Reddy & AS Bopanna had asked the CBI to place the closure report before Top Court, adding that while a report had been handed over to the Court in a sealed cover, a final decision with reasoning was not. In light of this, the Court had directed that the preliminary report be placed on record.The bench also refused to let the central government disinvest remaining shares in the PSU by lifting its restraint order of January 2016 wherein the Supreme Court Bench led by then Chief Justice TS Thakur had directed the Central Government to maintain status quo on the proposed disinvestment of the public sector undertaking Hindustan Zinc Limited. This had restricted the Government from initiating any process of further disinvestment of its shares.On March 4, a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court led by CJI had given time to Centre till March 6 to make statement on handing over a copy of the CBI closure report in the disinvestment of Hindustan Zinc Limited (HZL).Next Storylast_img read more