Air India’s bidding process rigged in favor of Tata Sons, claims Subramanian Swamy

Air India’s bidding process was unconstitutional, bad faith, corrupt and rigged in favor of the Tata Sons, Bharatiya Janata Party MP Subramanian Swamy told the Delhi High Court on Tuesday, reported on Tuesday. Bar and Bench.

Swamy made the statement in a plea he filed to reverse Air India’s divestment process.

In October, Tata Sons won the bid for the debt-ridden airline for Rs 18,000 crore.

In his plea, Swamy also called for an investigation into the role of the respondents in the divestment process and for a detailed report to be submitted to the High Court.

At Tuesday’s hearing, the BJP chief said the only other bidder for the airlines was a consortium led by the owner of SpiceJet. But, he told the court, insolvency proceedings were pending against SpiceJet in the Madras High Court and therefore did not have the right to bid.

“This means that there was only one bidder and the bid cannot go through,” Swamy explained. “After the bidding process, a story appeared in the press that the second bidder said he was happy to have participated because if he hadn’t, the bidding process offers could not have gone ahead. “

Swamy said he was not opposed to the divestment policy and had always believed in the idea of ​​a free market, PTI reported. Rajya Sabha’s MP said he was raising the issue of “irregularity, illegality, misconduct and corruption” in the divestment process.

“I am in favor of divestment but in my opinion it is a gigantic corruption”, he maintained. “I am complaining about the rigged procedure. It is rigged in favor of Tata companies.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said the divestment of the carrier was a political decision taken by the Union government as Air India was suffering losses.

“The condition [for disinvestment] has been [that] whenever we invite the tender till date, the losses will be incurred by the government and then by the winner of the tender, ”Mehta said. “It was not something that was done surreptitiously.”

Regarding Swamy’s allegations that SpiceJet was the second-largest bidder, the solicitor general said the airline was not part of the consortium that submitted the bid and the ongoing proceedings against it were irrelevant in the case.

“An individual, Ajay Singh [chairperson of SpiceJet], was part of the consortium, which was the second bidder and not SpiceJet, ”he said.

Mehta also said the lawsuits against another Air Asia airline had nothing to do with Air India’s divestment. The Tata group has a joint venture with Malaysian AirAsia Berhad under the name Air Asia India.

“Respondent 6 is Talace Private Limited which acquired Air India,” he said. “It is 100% owned by Tata Sons and has nothing to do with Air Asia.”

Senior lawyer Harish Salve, representing Tata, said Air India was a wholly Indian company and the bribery allegations were completely unfounded.

“From 2017, [the] The government encountered difficulties in selling the airline, ”he said. “There is nothing in this petition. No details are given. They can just repeat that there is corruption but no details are given.

He said the airline industry was difficult to manage and there were large transactions. Salve told the High Court that if someone shows up at this point and keeps things on hold with a brief request, no one will invest in the airline.

“Already, employees are worried about whether they will receive their salary or not,” he added. “The government gave assurances. He had been trying to sell Air India since 2017 and now he has managed to sell it. “

Following arguments from both parties, a bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh said it would issue its order on Thursday and ordered the parties in the case to file their notes by Wednesday.

By winning the offer, Tata Sons had regained control of Air India almost 70 years after its nationalization. Air India was founded in 1932 as Tata Airlines by family descendant and aviation enthusiast Jehangir Ratanji Dadabhoy Tata. In 1946, the airline became a public limited company.

Under the deal between Tata and the Union government, the software salt conglomerate would pay Rs 2,700 crore in cash and take over Rs 13,500 crore in the airline’s debt.

As of August 31, 2021, Air India had a debt of Rs 61,562 crore.


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