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President withholds assent to Dunlop India acquisition Bill

New Delhi: President Ramnath Kovind has withheld the assent to Dunlop India Limited (Acquisition and Transfer of Undertaking) Bill, 2016 passed by the West Bengal

Assembly unanimously in February 2016.

Informed sources at the President secretariat told this correspondent that President has sought some clarifications from the Union Home ministry and after that, he had decided to withhold the assent of the bill only last week.

The West Bengal Assembly passed two pieces of legislation to take over management control of Dunlop India Ltd and Jessop and Co from Pawan Ruia group. The bills were passed by voice vote.

The State government in the statement of object and reasons of both the Bills said, "thousands of employees" of the two companies "have not got their dues over a substantial period of time" and "are in acute financial distress". The purpose of the takeover was stated to be to "subserve the interest of general public".

Pawan Ruia group by virtue of its acquisitions of Dunlop in 2005 and Jessop in 2003 still holds the control of these companies.

Two of the Dunlop's tyre units – one at Sahagunj near here and another at Ambattur near Chennai – are under suspension of work. The Calcutta High Court had allowed liquidation of Dunlop on January 31, 2013. The Supreme Court, however, through an order, maintained the status quo on the subject.

Jessop's wagon making and engineering unit with employees of 700 is also not operational for many years.

At present, the number of workers at Dunlop's West Bengal unit is estimated to be around 400. However, workers' union claimed that 1,200 employees who had retired since 2009 had not received their dues including retiring benefits.

As the bills were pending for the necessary approval from the President of India, West Bengal Government decided to pay a monthly honorarium to all those employees of about Rs 10,000 a month.

Other than these bills, the President had given assent to as many as 23 different bills from the month of July to December of last year passed by different Assemblies. In the year 2018 President has given assent to 62 bills of different state governments.

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