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Court clears Jessop selloff hurdle

Calcutta, July 8: The Centre’s disinvestment policy today received a major boost with Calcutta High Court allowing the sale of majority stake in the ailing Jessop and Company to Ruia Cotex Ltd.

A division bench of the high court comprising Chief Justice A. K. Mathur and Justice A. K. Banerjee allowed the appeal filed by the Union of India and others challenging an earlier order by a single bench nullifying the sale of the city-based public sector unit.

Setting aside the March 28 order of Justice Kalyan Jyoti Sengupta, the bench observed that the findings of the trial court with regard to lack of transparency in decision making process in the disinvestment of Jessop cannot be sustained.

Apart from the Centre, Ruia Cotex and Bharat Bhari Udyog Nigam Ltd, the parent company of Jessop, also challenged the earlier court order.

The bench also dismissed a writ petition by the Jessop and Co Staff Association challenging the earlier order in which the court had refused to consider Jessop as part of the strategic sector.

Expressing happiness at today’s verdict, Ruia Cotex chairman P. K. Ruia said, “We expect to take control of the ailing engineering company as soon as the statutory and other legal formalities are completed.”

“We will start implementing the BIFR scheme for the revival of Jessop,” he added.

On the other hand, Alok Brahmachari, a representative of the Jessop staff association, said they will soon move Supreme Court challenging today’s verdict.

In February last year, the Centre had okayed the Rs 18-crore bid of Ruia Cotex for the sale of 72 per cent stake in Jessop.

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