Delhi High Court ordered to dismiss the plea filed by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy against the Air India disinvestment process. The Court found no illegality and arbitrariness in Air India’s sale to Tata Sons, as pointed by the petitioner in the judicial review.
In his plea against Air India’s privatization, BJP leader Subramanian Swamy asked Delhi High Court to set aside the Air India disinvestment process on the grounds that the process lacked required transparency and was rigged in favour of Tata Sons, who is the winning bidder of the national carrier.
According to Swamy, a consortium led by SpiceJet was the second bidder in Air India sales, but there is an ongoing insolvency proceeding against SpiceJet in Madras High Court, which forbade it from participating in Air India bidding. Effectively, there was only one bidder, Tata Sons, which made Air India sales favourable to Tata Sons Group.
However, SpiceJet was not a part of the consortium that submitted the bid. An individual, Ajay Singh, a part of SpiceJet, was a part of the consortium. According to the Solicitor General, he was the second bidder and not SpiceJet.
Swamy also had pointed out that there is an ongoing investigation against AirAsia, which has one of its shareholders as AirAsia Investment Ltd, Malaysia, which has direct and indirect control over Talace Private Limited, the company that won the bid on behalf of Tata Sons.
The Delhi High Court observed that the Centre took forward Air India’s privatization after following transparent procedures and multi-layered decision-making.
Air India disinvestment process
Privatization of the national carrier Air India was started in 2017. Talace Private Limited, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Tata Sons, won the bid in October 2021. According to the proposal, Talace Private Limited received 100% equity shares of Air India and Air India Express and a 50% stake in ground-handling company AISATS.
As of August 31, 2021, Air India reportedly has a total debt of Rs 61,562 crore, of which 75% or Rs 46,262 crore will be transferred to Air India Assets Holding Limited (AIAHL), a special purpose vehicle, before handing over Air India to the Tata Group.