Plea on BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra's appointment in ONGC: Supreme Court to hear Centre

The plea challenges the Delhi High Court's last year judgement dismissing a petition against the BJP spokesperson's appointment as an independent ONGC director.

Published: 06th March 2018 07:54 AM  |   Last Updated: 06th March 2018 07:54 AM   |  A+A-

Sambit Patra (Photo | EPS)


NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court today said that it would hear the Centre on a plea by an NGO challenging the Delhi High Court's last year judgement dismissing a petition against BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra's appointment as an independent director in the ONGC.

A bench comprising justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan did not issue a formal notice to the Centre and asked the NGO, which has challenged the high court's November 6 last year judgement, to serve a copy of the plea to the Union of India.

When advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for NGO Energy Watchdog, requested the court to issue a formal notice to the Centre, the bench said, "You serve a copy to the Union of India. After hearing preliminary arguments, we can issue formal notice".

The bench has posted the matter for hearing after two weeks.

The high court had dismissed the PIL saying it was "unsubstantiated" and "without merit", and had also rejected the opposition to the appointment of Shashi Shanker as the Chairman and Managing Director of the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC).

During the brief hearing today, Bhushan told the bench that the high court had passed the judgement without issuing any notice to the Centre and without any affidavit being filed by the government.

To this, the bench referred to the verdict of the high court and said that both the sides, petitioner and the Centre, had exchanged documents during the course of the proceedings before the high court after which the matter was heard at length.

The NGO had challenged Shanker's appointment before the high court on the grounds that he was suspended in February 2015 for six months in connection with a probe into the award of a contract by ONGC.

The high court had rejected the petitioner's contention saying it was "completely untenable and devoid of any factual or legal merit".

Patra's appointment to the post of independent director in ONGC was challenged in the high court on several grounds, including the claim that procedures were not followed, his alleged lack of relevant experience and qualifications and his proximity to the ruling party at the Centre.

With regard to the contention that he was closely related to the ruling party in power, being its spokesperson, the high court had said the petitioner has not alleged that Patra or his relatives have or had any pecuniary relationship with the PSU or its subsidiaries, holding company or promoters.

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