The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Naik hails ruling, waits for cabinet to take a call

Mumbai, Sept. 16: Petroleum minister Ram Naik, who is known to have opposed the divestment of oil PSUs, today dubbed the Supreme Court’s decision as historic.

However, he added, the ruling would not affect the divestment process as a whole.

According to Naik, both HPCL and BPCL were set up by acts of Parliament and so its consent was necessary for their divestment, while the same is not needed in the case of other PSUs.

Asked whether his stand against privatisation of oil companies was vindicated, Naik said the decision to disinvest in the oil companies was jointly taken by the cabinet and he was a part of it.

He said the Centre had time till December, when the winter session of Parliament begins, to decide whether to seek an approval from Parliament for divesting the government’s stakes in both these oil majors. “Till then, the disinvestment process (of the two oil companies) has to be stopped,” he added.

Naik, however, indicated that if the government sought Parliament’s approval, the proposal could sail through.

Responding to a query on how BJP would push the bill when it did not have majority in the Upper House, Naik said, “Though we did not have majority in the Rajya Sabha, did we not get the banking bill and other bills passed'"

“Only in the case of Pota, there was a joint session of Parliament. I do not think we will need it here,” Naik said.

The Opposition, led by the Congress and the Left, has said it would oppose any proposal before the Parliament to divest the government’s stakes in both these companies.

Naik said the disinvestment ministry will now study the judgement and seek the petroleum ministry’s comments. After this, the cabinet will decide whether the issue will be taken to Parliament.

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