VIJAYAWADA: The Centre on Wednesday told the Andhra Pradesh High Court that the decision to disinvest its 100 percent stake in Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Limited (RINL), the corporate entity of Visakhapatnam Steel Plant, is a policy decision of the Centre and that courts should not interfere in the policy decisions of the government. In its counter in a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed against the privatisation of the VSP, the Centre said the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) had given its in-principle nod to the 100 percent disinvestment of the government’s stake in the steel plant after several rounds of discussion and planning. The committee is headed by the Prime Minister with ministers of home, steel, natural resources, finance and corporate affairs, and other officials as its members.
The Centre said the Supreme Court had clearly stated that the courts should not interfere in the policy decisions of governments. The Supreme Court on several occasions had said that it is not going to decide on the aspect of whether the disinvestment is right or wrong, the Centre said in its counter.
Further, the Centre said the policy decision regarding the disinvestment is linked with complicated financial matters and the courts, generally, do not interfere in such matters. The Centre also pointed out that the petitioner could not justify that the decision of the Centre is unilateral and against the law. Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM) under secretary Rajesh Kumar Singh filed the counter before the bench led by Chief Justice Arup Kumar Goswami which was hearing a PIL filed by former CBI joint director V V Lakshminarayana seeking court directions to the Centre to stop the privatisation of the steel plant.
In the counter, the Centre said there is a need to look into the interests of the petitioner behind filing the PIL and in the present case, though the petitioner claimed that he does not have any personal benefit, his political aspirations need to be taken into account. The Centre said the petitioner filed the PIL to gain political mileage under the pretext of public interest.
The Centre informed the court that under Atmanirbhar Bharat it had asked Niti Aayog to look into aspect of disinvestment and had decided to privatise or merge non-strategic PSUs. The Centre said it would protect the interests of the employees and other stakeholders. The Centre said agreements would be entered into the new management that takes over the plant and the interest of the employees would be protected.