SC issues notices to Govt., HPCL, BPCL

Friday, 25 July 2003, 07:00 Hrs
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NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court Friday issued notices to the central government, Hindustan Petroleum Corp. Ltd. (HPCL) and Bharat Petroleum Corp. Ltd. (BPCL) over the privatisation of the two profit-making firms.

A bench comprising Chief Justice V.N. Khare and Judge S.B. Sinha issued the notices following a suit by the Oil Sector Officers' Association, challenging the proposed disinvestment of the public sector undertakings.

The bench gave two weeks to New Delhi and the two companies to file their response and a week to the petitioner to file a rejoinder, if any, and directed listing of the matter after three weeks.

The petitioner argued that the proposed disinvestments were being done without parliamentary approval and hence the central government should not be permitted to go ahead.

It said when the two public sector undertakings were making huge profits, there was no need to sell them to private parties.

Attorney General Soli Sorabjee opined there was no need for Parliament to give its approval to the disinvestments.

Following this, the government said it would go ahead with disinvestments without the Parliament's nod.

The Indian government was forced to postpone the sell-off process of the two oil giants for three months in September 2002 due to intense political squabbling.

The government has reportedly decided to sell a part of its stake in HPCL to domestic and overseas companies and sell shares of BPCL to local investors.
HPCL and BPCL together control 40 percent of India's two million barrel-a-day oil market.

India's privatisation drive, projected as the cornerstone of the reforms programme, has repeatedly come under attack in recent months, with the ruling coalition's allies demanding review of the divestment agenda.
Source: IANS
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