Make statement on CBI closure in HZL divestment: SC to Centre

Supreme Court
The Supreme Court of India

New Delhi, March 4 The Supreme Court on Wednesday gave 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), which took place in 2002 during the NDA government.

A bench headed by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde and comprising Justices B.R. Gavai and Surya Kant was hearing a PIL filed by National Confederation of Officers Association (NCOA) against the disinvestment of Hindustan Zinc Limited (HZL). The CBI had initiated the preliminary enquiry (PE) in 2013.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan representing NCOA informed the court that on the basis of information received through RTI which claimed that the Department of Legal Affairs in December 2012 had opined that disinvestment of more than 50 per cent of the shares of the HZL and thereby changing its nature and character from a public company to ordinary company itself was not permissible in the light of the provisions contained in the Metal Corporation (Nationalization and Miscellaneous Provision) Act. 1976 and also cited 2003 Supreme Court judgment.

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.

In 2016, the apex court had directed the Modi government to maintain status quo on the proposed disinvestment of the public sector undertaking. It was a huge blow, which restricted the government to initiate any process of further disinvestment of world’s second largest zinc producer, and also delayed Vedanta Resources taking control of the company.

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