In the case of Shri Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury vs. State of West Bengal, a division bench of Chief Justice Prakash Shrivastava and Justice Rajarshi Bharadwaj rejected a petition filed by West Bengal Congress President Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury stating that the West Bengal government’s policy decision to sell its 47 % stake in Metro Dairy is neither illegal nor norbitrary by auctioning to Keventer Agro Limited for INR 85 Crores.
The Petition was filed seeking a probe into the state government’s 47 % in Metro Diary, West Bengal’s leading dairy firm,
The Court further underlined that the State’s decision to disinvest in Metro Dairy and transfer its shares was a policy decision based on economic and other considerations.
The West Bengal government approved the sale of its 47 percent share to Keventer for Rs 85 crore in a public auction in 2017.
Chowdhury filed the current PIL in the High Court, stating that the government, which established Metro Dairy with public funds, lost at least 500 crore by selling its part in the company to Keventer at a low price. He said that there was a lack of transparency in the process and that a review into the disinvestment was necessary.
The court’s jurisdiction does not extend to weighing the relative merits of various economic strategies, according to the ruling.
The Court went on to say that there was no need to look beyond the policy choice to find out why it was made if the decision was otherwise ‘unquestionable.’
The Court also requested a copy of the decision’s file in order to determine if the disinvestment decision was made at the appropriate level and in accordance with the law.
After reviewing the evidence, the Court came to the conclusion that “the administrative judgement was made in accordance with the law.”
Metro Dairy began as a public-private partnership in 1991. West Bengal Milk Producers Federation owned 47 percent of the company, while Keventer Agro Ltd owned the remaining 53 percent.
Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharyya, a senior advocate, is joined by advocates Pratip Kumar Chatterjee and Chittapriya Ghosh.
The State was represented by senior advocates JP Khaitan and Amitesh Banerjee, as well as advocate Ipsita Banerjee.