SC dismisses PIL against 10 per cent divestment in Coal India

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coalNew Delhi, 5 Aug (PTI): The Supreme Court today dismissed a PIL challenging the legality of 10 per cent equity divestment of state-owned Coal India Ltd (CIL) through initial public offering (IPO) in 2010.

“In the matter of policies, particularly the economic policy, this court does not interfere under its power of judicial review unless the impugned policy is found to be grossly arbitrary, unfair and unreasonable,” a bench comprising justices R M Lodha and Madan B Lokur said.

The bench noted that before coming out with the IPO, the Centre had complied with the entire process of wide publicity in the media, road shows and all the appointments, including that of merchant bankers, was made on competitive basis.

Further, the bench said all the procedures of valuation were followed and the price band of Rs 226-Rs 245 per share was fixed after following SEBI rules and regulations and taking into consideration the technicality of regulation for the sale of the equity capital.

The bench also noted that rules and regulation of market regulator SEBI was strictly followed for the IPO. The PIL filed by Ehsan Khalid, retd Squadron Leader, alleged the most appropriate asset valuation methodology was not adopted for divesting the equity of CIL causing a loss of Rs 1,75,000 crore to the country.

However, the bench said “the present case was not the sale of assets but the sale of equity capital and if, after following the SEBI rules and regulations and taking into consideration the technicality of regulation for sale of equity capital, the price band of Rs 226-Rs 245 per share was fixed it cannot be said that the valuation for sale of equity capital was unreasonable,” the bench said.

Khalid, in his plea, had sought re-evaluation of CIL based on its vast coal reserves and seeking cancellation of shares allotted via IPO in October 2010.

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