The Delhi High Court has reserved its order for January 6, 2022 regarding a petition by BJP MP Subramanian Swamy against Air India’s disinvestment process and investigation into the role and functioning of the respondent authorities.
A bench of Justices DN Patel and Jyoti Singh reserved the order after taking notes of submissions and asked the parties ie the Centre, the petitioner and others to submit their written submissions.
Swamy sought an investigation into the role of the government and the process which he claimed was lacking in accountability. He appeared for himself and argued that the bidding process was corrupt, maladies, arbitrary and unconstitutional and against the public interest, rigged in favour of Tata sons.
Swamy submitted that SpiceJet, to avoid a single bidder situation, participated in the bidding. He accused Ajay Singh, SpiceJet’s CEO, of acting in conspiracy to allow Tata sons-backed Talace Private Limited to win the bid for Air India.
Swamy referred to an order passed by Madras High Court which stated that SpiceJet was under insolvency and its status as a bidder should be invalidated. As a result, this means that there was only one bidder and the bid cannot take place.
“I am in favour of disinvestment. I have always believed in the idea of an open market. The Tatas are very much a part of Air Asia. This matter has been pending before Your Lordships and you have asked the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Enforcement Directorate (ED) to make investigations including in the Tata’s role.”BJP MP Subramanian Swamy
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Central Government said that disinvestment was a policy decision that could not be contested in the courts. He also added that the national carrier was losing thousands of crores every day.
Senior Advocate Harish Salve who appeared for Tata group, opposed the plea filed by Swamy. He submitted that the successful bidder is a 100 percent Indian company owned by a 100 percent Indian.
The Tata Sons had won the bid for acquiring Air India for Rs 18,000 crore on October 8, 2021. This successful bid ended the attempts of Central government to privatise the debt-laden airline. The Tata Sons originally launched Air India with a namesake branding (Tata Air Services) in the year 1932. The company bid for the carrier services under its wholly-owned subsidiary Talace Pvt Ltd for Rs 18,000 crore.
Subramanian Swamy, in his petition had called for a probe into the role and functioning of various government authorities which were involved in the process of disinvestment of Air India.