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Fresh Purnendu move to scuttle HPL stake sale

Calcutta, July 16: The Chatterjee Group has moved the Supreme Court to stop the divestment process in Haldia Petrochemicals initiated by the Bengal government.

A TCG firm has filed two special leave petitions before a division bench of the apex court comprising Justices G.S. Singhvi and V. Gopala Gowda who are expected to hear the matter early next week.

The petitions challenge a Calcutta High Court judgment that denied permission to a TCG firm from approaching the International Court of Arbitration (ICA) in Paris to decide on the ownership dispute of HPL.

It also contests the observation made by the high court while passing judgment on the ICA case that the Supreme Court in a previous occasion had dealt with the matter relating to majority and control of HPL on merit.

The Supreme Court bench has asked the respondents — the West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation and HPL — to file all papers pertaining to the case within a week.

TCG firm Chatterjee Petrochem (Mauritius) Company also disputed the observation made by the high court on the 15.5 crore shares that have been put on the block by the WBIDC on behalf of the Bengal government.

The state has put its 52 crore shares along with the 15.5 crore chunk, which it claimed to own.

Five firms have put in expressions of interest for buying the stake in HPL.

Apart from three public sector firms, including Indian Oil Corporation, Reliance Industries and Cairn Energy India have started due diligence prior to putting a price bid in September.

TCG has claimed ownership of the 15.5 crore shares and wanted to tap the ICA to resolve the dispute.

“The legal move seemed to be a last ditch attempt by TCG to derail the stake sale process. If it is allowed arbitration, the entire divestment can potentially go for a toss,” said a state official aware of the development.

According to sources, TCG chief Purnendu Chatterjee was present at the court yesterday, underlining the importance of the leave petitions.

The petition dealing with the high court observation on the 2011 Supreme Court judgment is an important cog in the legal wheel of TCG.

A division bench comprising the present Chief Justice of Supreme Court Altamas Kabir, in a September 2011 judgment, had effectively declined TCG the right majority and control of HPL.

However, the private promoter of HPL argued that the Supreme Court bench passed the judgment on the path taken by TCG to represent its case and not on the merit of the case. Effectively, it meant that TCG can get back majority and control if it takes the right legal path.

 
 
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