Home / Companies / News /  No corruption or rigging in AI valuation, Supreme Court told

NEW DELHI : The Union government and the Tata group on Tuesday told the Delhi high court that there was no corruption or rigging in the valuation process of Air India, opposing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and Rajya Sabha MP Subramanium Swamy’s plea seeking a Central Bureau of Investigation probe into the national carrier’s disinvestment. Representing the Centre, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta refuted the allegations that the methodology was “illegal" and undue favours were given to the Tatas. He said that Swamy’s petition is based on “misconceptions".

In October, the Centre accepted the highest bid made by a Tata Sons company for 100% equity shares of Air India and Air India Express, along with the government’s 50% stake in ground-handling company AISATS.

While claiming that the process was “arbitrary, illegal and against the public interest", Swamy has sought to set aside and revoke any action or decision or grant of any further approvals, permissions or permits by authorities with respect to the disinvestment process. 

“I am in favour of disinvestment, but this is gigantic corruption in my view. I am complaining about the rigged procedure. It is rigged in favour of Tata companies," he said.

Swamy submitted that a consortium led by SpiceJet was the other bidder, but insolvency proceedings are going on against the airline in the Madras High Court. He claimed that hence Spicejet was not entitled to bid and therefore, effectively, there was only one bidder. Mehta said that according to the petitioner, SpiceJet was never a part of the consortium that submitted the bid and proceedings pending against it have no relevance here. He argued that only one individual, Ajay Singh, promoter of Spicejet, was part of the consortium, which was the second bidder and not the airline itself. He also contended that Air India’s disinvestment was a policy decision taken by the Centre in 2017, keeping in view the airline’s huge losses.

Harish Salve, appearing for the Tatas, said that the bids are complete, share purchase agreements are signed, and all this is in the public domain. He added that the petitioner has put forth no evidence of any corruption to support his claims.

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