Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Thursday dismissed a bunch of public interest litigations challenging a 2019 decision of the Union government granting in-principle approval for disinvestment of its stake in Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL).
A bench of Justices SC Gupte and Madhav Jamdar held in its judgement that the decision must have been taken after an “elaborate process of consideration” by experts.
In November 2019, the Union Cabinet granted an in- principle approval for stake sale in BPCL.
The government said at the time that it planned to sell its 53.29 per cent stake along with management control in the oil PSU.
Earlier this year, some BPCL employees approached the HC through PILs challenging this approval.
They argued that the decision was arbitrary and contrary to Article 14 of the Constitution (which deals with equality before law).
Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh, who appeared for the Union government, and senior counsel Darius Khambata, who represented BPCL in hearings, opposed the pleas.
They said the petitioners did not have a locus standi (the right or capacity) to challenge the divestment move.
The HC said the disinvestment decision was presently only at an “in-principle” stage, and had already undergone “an elaborate process of consideration at the hands ofexperts and key government functionaries”.
“Further steps for actual disinvestment would also involve a thorough consideration and robust checks and balances and further expert inputs,” the judges said.
The court added that the policy decision must have been based on some economic and socio-economic principles, and held that the challenge to the same was not maintainable.
It dismissed the pleas saying they had “no merit”.