FIR registered by CBI into 26% HZL stake sale in 2002: Centre tells SC

New Delhi: The Centre on Friday informed the Supreme Court that an FIR has been registered by the CBI concerning the 26 per cent disinvestment of Hindustan Zinc Ltd (HZL) by the Union Government in 2002.

A bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and Hima Kohli was informed by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, that the CBI has registered the FIR as directed by the top court in its verdict of last year. The bench directed the Solicitor General to file an updated status report in the case and posted the matter for further hearing post-summer vacation.

On November 18, last year, two decades after the first NDA government, led by then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, decided to divest stake in HZL to a strategic partner - Sterlite Opportunities and Ventures Ltd (SOVL), the SC had directed the CBI to register a case to probe the alleged irregularities in the process. The SC had said that on perusal of reports and recommendations of CBI officials, it is of the considered opinion that the 2002 disinvestment in the firm evinces a prima facie case for registration of a regular case.

It, however, did not stall the proposed disinvestment of the government's 29.54 per cent residual stake in the open market and said it should be done strictly in accordance with SEBI rules and regulations to ensure that the best price is realised for the sale of the shareholding.

SOVL, the majority shareholder of HZL, had stated before the court that it is not exercising its second call option under the Share Purchase pact.

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