Anil Ambani Group sues Congress' Singhvi for Rs5,000 crore
The Reliance Anil Ambani group has filed a Rs 5,000-crore ($ 780 million) defamation suit here against Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi, accusing him of making "false, defamatory and libellous statements".
 
The suit has been filed in the Gujarat High Court.
 
According to company sources, the Congress leader "made false, defamatory and libellous statements against the group. We have filed a Rs 5,000-crore suit for damages against him for making these false and defamatory statements". 
 
Singhvi had, on November 30, attacked Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, contending that he was "fooling" people by saying the government had not waived loans of big defaulters.
 
Alleging that the government had written off Rs 1.88 lakh crore debt of wilful defaulters, he had said: "We all know that top 50 corporates owe Rs 8.35 lakh crore to banks and out of those, three top Gujarat-based companies -- Reliance (Anil Ambani Group), Adani and Essar -- owe Rs 3 lakh crore."
 
He had charged that the Finance Minister, instead of declaring these liabilities as NPAs, was "trying to help the defaulter with further defence contracts like the Rafale deal".
 
A Reliance Defence statement had earlier clarified the joint venture between Reliance Aerostructure Ltd and Dassault Aviation was a bilateral agreement between two private companies -- and had nothing to do with the government.
 
The statement had added: "Dassault Reliance Aerospace Ltd will be only one of the key players in the discharge of offset obligations. Over 500 large, medium and small Indian companies will benefit from the offsets which are nothing but an export obligation for goods and services from India. Offsets referred to are spread over a period of nearly 10 years." 
 
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

 

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Delhi High Court Judgement Clears Path for Politically-connected Board Appointees
The Delhi High Court (DHC), recently, upheld the appointment of Sambit Patra as an independent director of the Oil & Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), a public sector energy enterprise. Mr Patra, a surgeon by professional education and training, is a BJP spokesperson and is a regular on television and other media defending the government and the ruling party at the Centre. His appointment was effected on 29th September and was challenged in a public interest litigation (PIL) writ petition by the organisation known as Energy Watchdog. 
 
Independent directors, under the law, act as conscience-keepers of the company’s board and are important actors in holding high standards of corporate governance in the company. When a ruling party appoints a person who has been its media face as an independent director of a public sector company, with sitting fees and other perks that are a part of such an appointment, it is inescapably opening itself up to charges of nepotism. 
 
The legal challenge to Mr Patra’s appointment was laid under several grounds—chief among those were: a) that he lacked the experience and expertise necessary in the domain relevant to the company, in this case energy; b) that his close relationship with the ruling party and, by implication, the government which is a promoter in ONGC, disqualifies him from being an independent director; and c) that his appointment was effectively a distribution of State largesse to a person apparently close the ruling powers and, therefore, unreasonable, legally speaking. 
 
The DHC upheld Mr Patra’s appointment on each of the grounds, holding that there is nothing wrong with the search committee having taken a view that he was a person of eminence in the field of management—given that he has been at the helm of a little-known NGO called ‘Swaraj,’ which supposedly works for the welfare of the poor and downtrodden in Delhi; and that his experience as a doctor and a surgeon since 2002 is not wholly irrelevant to the domain of energy and oil as is required under the Act (independent directors are expected to have relevant domain expertise under the Companies Act, 2013, and rules of the Securities and Exchange Board of India— SEBI). In the judgement’s words, “ONGC would also be concerned with the health of not only the large numbers of its employees but also would require to address health concerns of the public at large on account of the activities (including explorations for oil, etc) which are undertaken by it, i.e., the large social and environmental impact of its core businesses which only a scientifically trained person could best evaluate and understand.” 
 
The DHC also went on to hold that Mr Patra’s connection with the ruling party had nothing to do with his connection with the government and that there is nothing that constrains him from effectively performing a checks-and-balances role against the decisions and actions of the promoter of ONGC, the Central government. 
 
The DHCwent on to hold that a mere sitting fee and perks, even if it may amount to as much as Rs23lakh per annum, as was shown by the petitioners, cannot be said to be ‘State largess’, without recording any special reasons why it cannot be considered so. 
 
It is a settled law that appointments can be questioned, legally speaking, only on eligibility and not suitability. However, the DHC, with great respect, has erred in construing the phrases ‘person of eminence in management’, and ‘relevant domain’ as merely the absence of their clear opposite. That approach is inappropriate in the case at hand because public monies are involved, irrespective of the quantum. The DHC missed a great opportunity to advance the interests of public accountability and has ended up giving cover for a brazenly nepotistic act, even if not an unprecedented one. 
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COMMENTS

Abhishek Singh

1 year ago

Very Sad...

Maharashtra CM’s lavish official programme in Mira Bhaindar sponsored by ‘contractors and builders’?
On 20 October 2017, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis inaugurated beautified premises of Mira Road railway station and the underground subway connecting Bhaindar east and west. However, both the programs were allegedly ‘sponsored’ by contractors and builders, as Mira Bhaindar Municipal Corporation (MBMC) did not spend a single rupee on it, reveals a reply I received under Right to Information (RTI).
 
After attending the inauguration programs, I filed RTI with MBMC to know expenditure incurred for these official functions of the state CM. The inauguration ceremony was so lavish that it included imported flowers, lighting arrangements, stage, chairs, banners, and sound system. Also there were hundreds of banners and posted put up across the city for this inauguration events. This had left me wondering how public funds might have wasted for such a grand ceremony. 
 
 
 
However, to my utter shock, the Public Information Officer from the Office of Executive Engineer under Public Works Dept in MBMC, replied that there are no records available about the expenditure incurred for the two inauguration ceremonies attended by CM Fadnavis. If the MBMC does not have any record of expenditure incurred for an official event, then who sponsored it? 
 
 
In addition, on that day, despite it being Diwali, since Maharashtra's CM was coming to Mira Bhaindar, the local administration did not allow autorikshaw, buses and private vehicles to ply on the road leading to station. The Chief Minister completed both inauguration in just 15 minutes and left the place without any speech. Yet at both places, the 'organisers' had made arrangements like a large pandal, huge stage, sound system, flower decoration and banners. Everywhere, the name of MBMC and its logo were prominently displayed. 
 
So the question is, if the MBMC did not spent a single rupee or does not have any record of expenditure who paid all the bills for these lavish ceremonies. While nobody is willing to say anything on this, it is believed that contractors and builders, who were awarded the works, may have borne the expenses.  
 
 
 
 
 
 
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COMMENTS

Mallika (Mallika) Chellappa

1 year ago

This is what is called a conflict of interests - but it is my favourite saying that most Indians would not recognize a conflict of interests if it hit them on the head !

Shweta Korgaonkar

1 year ago

Swapnil.. If money spent by contractors r NOT from their own pockets... They recover it by doing shoddy work... Which does not last even 5 years ... When the bridges and roads constructed by British long last for 100 years... The repairing or reconstruction of the shoddy work again will be done from public money ... If someone is taking pain to find out the source... What's wrong.... CM is NOT above law... And can be criticized...

swapnil c

1 year ago

This is good getting sponsorship, what us your problem Mr. Writer did you not like Maharashtra CM pending public money ? Or did you like it? This is like shame politicians of he does anything and also shame if they do something opposite. Learn to appreciate dear.

shyamdave.d

1 year ago

It happens all the time. Nothing new, nothing extraordinary.

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