Millennium Post

Corporate czars face tough 2013 in courts

Corporate czars like Anil Ambani, Sunil Bharti Mittal and business houses including Tatas came under intense judicial scanner for scam-related cases in 2013.

Be it the witness box in trial courts or corridors of the Delhi High Court and the apex court, names of business tycoons like Mukesh Ambani, Kumar Mangalam Birla, Naveen Jindal and Ravi Ruia cropped up in controversial matters and cases which are under scrutiny in different judicial forums.

The year also saw several multinational giants like Finish mobile maker Nokia rushing to the high court in a high stake tax dispute while Vedanta Group, Korean steel major Posco and Swiss pharma firm Novartis were engaged in Supreme Court on issues ranging from industrial pollution, licences and patent.

The patent battle saw domestic pharmaceutical firms getting a major boost with the apex court dismissing the plea of Novartis for patent of a cancer drug Glivec, paving the way for Indian companies to manufacture cheap generic drugs.

So was the case in the high court where US-pharma major Merck Sharp & Dohme (MSD) failed to get any relief against Indian Pharma Glenmark which has come up with generic anti- diabetic medicines. An intra-court appeal against the order is pending before a larger bench.

The 2G spectrum scam forced Bharti Cellular CMD Sunil Mittal, Essar Group promoter Ravi Ruia and Reliance ADAG chief Anil Ambani to rush to the apex court in the wake of special CBI court issuing them summonses to appear as accused and witnesses respectively.

While Mittal and Ruia got a temporary relief from the apex court which stayed the proceedings against them in additional spectrum scam in which they have been summoned as an accused, Ambani failed to convince the court to give an order against the trial court directing him to appear as a witness in the 2G case involving former Telecom Minister A Raja and others, including three top executives of his group.
A day after ADAG chief's testimony, his wife Tina Ambani also made her appearance in the Patiala house court and recorded her statement which was described as 'better than her husband' in answering questions by special judge O P Saini. Government's controversial decision to hike the price of natural gas reached the Supreme Court which agreed to examine the issue raised by CPI MP Gurudas Dasgupta who filed a  public interest litigation (PIL) accusing Petroleum Minister M Veerappa Moily of allegedly favouring Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), which have been refuted by them.

If 2012 was the year of 2G scam, then 2013 would be recorded in the history of the apex court for coalgate case and CBI's clamour to attain autonomy and free itself from its political masters to investigate top bureaucrats.
The high voltage hearing in the coal scam saw the apex court taking strong exception to the interference into its probe by the then Law Minister Ashwani Kumar, who was forced to resign.

CBI, which was termed as 'caged parrot' by the apex court during the hearing in the coal scam, came out with all guns blazing and named corporate bigwigs Naveen Jindal and Kumar Mangalam Birla in separate FIRs registered in connection with the case. The controversy surrounding former corporate lobbyist Niira Radia's tapped conversations was dealt by the apex court and after long hearing, it directed CBI to probe some key issues in which names of some big corporates, politicians, bureaucrats and journalists cropped up.
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