Going by this news report in the TOI, the National Confederation of Officers' Associations of Central Public Sector Undertakings had challenged the residual stake sale.The reason given by the SC is interesting. I have not seen the judgement but, going by news reports, the SC had earlier given an order that, in selling stakes in PSUs, the government needs to amend the Act of parliament by which ownership in these PSUs came to be vested in government.
This was not done in the original disinvestment. The Attorney General argued that the company has ceased to be in the public sector, so the SC order, which came after the first disinvestment, was not applicable. As reported in Mint, the SC refused to buy this:
Referring to the earlier sale of 26% stake in the firm to Sterlite Ltd (now Vedanta Ltd) in 2002, the court told the government that the sale was a circumvention of the law.
“You’ve done it once and we can’t allow you to do it again,” it said.
The remark was in the context of the apex court-mandated probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation into the alleged irregularities in the 2002 sale.
“No divestment can happen in a public sector undertaking without Parliament amending the concerned statute,” the court said.
The SC has also raised the question of whether the government is at all justified in selling stakes in profit-making PSUs:
“If the company is making profits, then let the government also make some profit from the remaining stake. Why disinvest in that case,” the court remarked.Since the government can reasonably hope to make money only out of disinvestment in profit- making PSUs, one wonders whether taking credit for disinvestment proceeds in the budget document makes any sense at all until this issue is sorted out.