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SC Seeks Preliminary Report For Closure Of Corruption Case By CBI In Hindustan Zinc's Disinvestment

Sanya Talwar
15 July 2020 3:39 AM GMT
SC Seeks Preliminary Report For Closure Of Corruption Case By CBI In Hindustan Zinc

The Supreme Court on Tuesday stated that it shall 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 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 directed that the preliminary report be placed on record and listed the matter for further consideration after two weeks.

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.

Today, Advocate Prashant Bhushan appearing on behalf of National Confederation Of Officers Association Of Central Public Sector Enterprises in the instant writ petition stated that the Government was not interested to dispense with requisite details in the case.

Bhushan reiterated his submissions which he had made on earlier hearings that even though it was the admitted position of the Government in terms of an affidavit filed by the Ministry of Mines that a disinvestment beyond the requisite limit had been made, a final decision on the inquiry was still pending.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta rebutted this by stating that a final decision has been taken to close the case and no evidence pointing to criminality had emerged.

On March 4, a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court comprising Chief Justice SA Bobde and Justices BR Gavai and Surya Kant 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).

Following this, the matter had been adjourned twice to finally come up for hearing today.

HZL is a subsidiary of Vedanta Limited which owns 64.9 per cent stake in the company while the government of India retains a 29.54 per cent stake.

The CBI had initiated the preliminary enquiry (PE) into the disinvestments made by HZL in 2013.

In 2016, 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.

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