Delhi HC Dismisses Subramanian Swamy's Plea Against Tata's Air India Bid

Subramanium Swamy had challenged the disinvestment process which resulted in Tata's acquiring Air India.

The Delhi High Court dismissed Rajya Sabha MP Subramanian Swamy's plea seeking to quash Air India's disinvestment process where the Tata's won the bid to buy the national airlines. Swamy alleged that the process was "unconstitutional", "mala fide", "corrupt" and "rigged" to favour the Tata's.

The HC will shortly upload the order with detailed reasons.

In October 2021, Tata Sons-led Talace Private Limited won the bid to acquire the debt-ridden airline for Rs 18,000 crore.

Also Read: Air India Sale: Tata Group Wins Bid, Reunites After 68 Years

Not against disinvestment, but process rigged: Swamy to HC

On January 4, Swamy argued that he was not opposing the disinvestment policy and that he always believed in the idea of a free market. However, in this instance, Swamy alleged that the matter reeked of "impropriety, illegality, misconduct and corruption" in the disinvestment 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 argued.

Swamy argued that the consortium led by SpiceJet's owner Ajay Singh was the only other taker for the beleaguered national airline. However, SpiceJet was not entitled to bid since it is embroiled in insolvency proceedings before the Madras High Court.

"This means there was only one bidder and the bid cannot take place," Swamy said. "After the bidding process, a story appeared in press that the second bidder said he was happy that he participated because if he had not, the bidding process could not have gone forward," he added.

Sale of Air India a policy decision taken by the Govt's: Centre to HC

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre, told the high court that the sale of the national carrier was a policy decision taken by the government because Air India was incurring losses.

Air India was incurring a daily loss of thousands of crores, the Centre said underscoring the need for the disinvestment process which would, in turn, prevent wastage of public money.

The condition [for the disinvestment process] was that the government incurs losses till the date it invites bidding, and after that, losses are incurred by the winner of the bid, Mehta argued. "This is not something that has been done surreptitiously," he added.

Mehta also clarified that Ajay Singh, the owner of SpiceJet was the second bidder and not the airline. "One individual, Ajay Singh [chairperson of SpiceJet], was part of the consortium, which was the second bidder and not SpiceJet," Mehta added.

Updated On: 2022-01-06T12:29:17+05:30
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