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SC directs CBI probe in 2002 Hindustan Zinc Ltd disinvestment, allows 29.5% disinvestment

 
New Delhi, Nov 18 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Thursday allowed Centre to disinvest its shareholding in Hindustan Zinc Ltd (HZL), saying that the government can disinvest the remaining 29.5 per cent since HZL isn't a government company anymore. However, the top court also directed the CBI to register a case to probe the disinvestment of the company, during the 2002 NDA government, at a very low price.

The top court took objection to the closure of a preliminary enquiry by the CBI.

A bench headed by Justice D.Y. Chandrachud also asked the CBI to immediately register a regular case and fully investigate the 2002 decision to disinvest the majority shareholding in HZL. The bench also directed the CBI to file regular status reports before it.

Arun Shourie was the Disinvestment Minister in the Vajpayee-led government at the Centre in 2002.

Allowing disinvestment, the bench said the Centre in its capacity as shareholder of HZL has the right to take certain decisions to disinvest its shareholding so long as the process is transparent.

HZL is a subsidiary of Vedanta Limited which owns 64.9 per cent stake in the company while the government of India retains a 29.54 per cent stake.

In 2016, the apex court had directed the Modi government to maintain status quo on the proposed disinvestment of the public sector undertaking. It was a huge blow, which restricted the government to initiate any process of further disinvestment of world's second largest zinc producer, and also delayed Vedanta Resources taking control of the company.

--IANS
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