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Petition of Swamy against Air India disinvestment dismissed

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the union government, said Subramanian Swamy’s petition was based on misconceptions and required no consideration

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Petition of Swamy against Air India disinvestment dismissed

The High Court today dismissed the petition of Subramanian Swamy, the unruly Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader, who had sought a Central Bureau Investigation (CBI) probe into the Air India disinvestment process. A bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh heard the plea and a detailed order was awaited.

The petition had requested the court to set aside and revoke any action, decision or grant of any further approvals, permissions or permits with respect to the Air India disinvestment process while claiming it was “arbitrary, illegal and against the public interest”.

Swamy said the process was rigged in favour of one of the parties. He claimed that Tata Sons was given an undue advantage in the process.

The union government and the Tatas have rejected Swamy’s claim.

On 4 January, the court had reserved its order after hearing the arguments.

Swamy maintained that he was not opposing the policy of disinvestment and believed in the idea of a free market, but was raising the issue of “impropriety, illegality, misconduct and corruption” in the process.

“I am in favour of disinvestment, but this is gigantic corruption in my view. I am complaining about the rigged procedure. It is rigged in favour of Tata companies,” he said on 4 January.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the union government, said Swamy’s petition was based on “misconceptions” and does not require consideration.

The detailed judgment will be made available in the public domain shortly, the court intimated.

The Rajya Sabha member took to Twitter immediately after the pronouncement of the order to hint that the petition may be taken to the Supreme Court as an appeal against the rationale and reasoning spelt out in the high court verdict.“The HC dismisses my WP (writ petition) on Air India. But reasoned Order is being uploaded. After reading that we shall decide on going to SC,” Swamy tweeted.

Swamy had earlier urged the court to quash the entire process through which the airline was bought out by the Tata Group and also called for the revocation of all approvals, including those to be secured in the future for this sale.

The government informed the court that the decision to sell Air India was taken back in 2017 as the government could no longer stand to bear the losses the airline was running into. Tata group flagged its apprehension about delaying the completion of the sale of the airline due to such litigations and noted that selling and reviving the airline business is not an easy task.

The government, as well as the Tata group, opposed Swamy’s attempt at drawing a link between the Air India sale with Air Asia. The company taking over Air India is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Tata group and is 100% Indian, lawyers arguing for the government and the conglomerate told the court.

The court had proceeded to reserve the order on 4 January after hearing the case at somewhat length and directing all parties to file their written notes in stipulated time.

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