New Delhi [India], January 4 (ANI): The Delhi High Court on Tuesday reserved the order for January 6, 2022, on BJP MP Subramanian Swamy's petition seeking quashing of Air India disinvestment process and investigation into the role and functioning of the respondent authorities.
The bench of Justice DN Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh after taking notes of submissions of all sides decided to reserve the order and asked the parties to submit their written submission in this regard.
The petitioner Subramaniam Swamy appeared himself and argued that the bid process was arbitrary, corrupt, malafide, unconstitutional and against the public interest, rigged in favour of Tata Sons.
There is a clear statement that the insolvency process is ongoing in Madras High Court which passed orders against Spicejet and therefore it was not entitled to bid. As a result, this means that there was only one bidder and the bid cannot take place, said Subramanian Swamy.
Swamy further said that he is not against the disinvestment process.
"I am in favour of disinvestment. I have always believed in the idea of an open market," he added.
"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 Tatas' role," he said.
Meanwhile, Solicitar General of India Tushar Mehta appearing for Central Government while opposing the petition stated that there are many misconceptions in the present petition, and no cases are pending against the winning bidder. Air Asia facing some cases in 2013 not relevant to case, it wasn't even Air India's bidder, he added
Disinvestment is a policy decision, can not be contested in courts. Air India was losing thousands of crores every day, couldn't have continued more, he said.
Senior Advocate Harish Salve appeared for Tata Group. While opposing the Swamy plea he submitted that the successful bidder is a 100 per cent Indian company owned 100 per cent by an Indian. The share purchase agreement has been signed and everything is in the public domain.
Subramanian Swamy also sought direction to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to investigate the role and functioning of the respondent authorities and submit a detailed report in the present Air India disinvestment process exclusively to this Court.
"All efforts" to hand over all operations of Air India to Tata Sons by the end of December, Secretary Ministry of Civil Aviation Rajiv Bansal had said recently.
Tata Sons had won the bid for acquiring national carrier Air India for Rs 18,000 crore, on October 8, 2021 ending Centre's attempts to privatise the debt-laden airline. Tata Sons, which originally launched Air India with a namesake branding (Tata Air Services) in 1932, bid for the carrier under its wholly-owned subsidiary Talace Pvt Ltd for Rs Rs 18,000 crore.
Tata Sons were up against Spicejet promoter Ajay Singh-led consortium who had bid Rs 15,100 crore. The total debt of Air India as of August 31 stands at Rs 61,562 crore.
According to Tuhin Kanta Pandey, the debt of the airline would be taken over by the successful bidder (Tata Sons) is Rs 15,300 crore while the remaining debt of Rs 46,262 crore will go to Air India Asset Holding Limited (AIAHL). Under the divestment conditions, Tata sons will retain Rs 15,300 crore of Air India's debt and pay Rs 2,700 crore to the government, of the total Rs 18,000 crore price.
The government earlier informed that the winning bidder--Tata Sons--will retain all employees for one year and the group will need to offer a voluntary retirement scheme if it decides on retrenchment after the period.
The government has said that the interest of the employees and retired employees would be taken care of in the disinvestment process. The government will divest its 100 per cent stake in Air India, Air India Express and 50 per cent stake in ground handling company AISATS. (ANI)