Enron and India
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Dabhol power plant
2019/ SC revives of fixation of accountability
In what could be a major embarrassment for NCP, BJP and Shiv Sena ahead of the polls, the Supreme Court on Thursday revived the task of fixing accountability on political leaders and bureaucrats of the Maharashtra government and the Centre over the ‘tainted’ deal with US energy major Enron to set up the 2,550 mw Dabhol power plant 150 km from Mumbai.
The court rejected Maharashtra government counsel Nishant Katneshwarkar’s plea for giving the issue a burial. Katneshwarkar pleaded that as the Dabhol power plant had been taken over by the state government-run Ratnagiri Power Project Ltd in 2006, the matter had been rendered infructuous.
Won’t go into validity of Enron project, says SC
The bench of CJI Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Dinesh Maheshwari and Sanjiv Khanna said it would not go into the validity of the power project but the task of fixing accountability on the Maharashtra government still retained public interest given the inconsistent stand taken by it over the years since the deal was signed between Enron and the Maharashtra State Electricity Board (MSEB). The issue has been lying dormant since 2001.
The bench referred to the Madav Godbole Committee’s April 10, 2001, report which was critical of former chief ministers Sharad Pawar (then leading a Congress government and now heading NCP) and the 13-day BJP government at the Centre led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee which reworked the Enron deal on the basis of alleged pressure exerted by the then Shiv Sena-BJP government led by Manohar Joshi.
If a judicial inquiry is ordered by the apex court now, it could be a major embarrassment for important political parties ahead of general elections. The Godbole Committee, also comprising former economic affairs secretary EAS Sarma, then HDFC chairman Deepak Parekh, then TERI chairman Rajendra Pachauri and Maharashtra bureaucrat Vinay Mohan Lal, had recommended a judicial inquiry into wrongdoings and corruption charges that had emerged during the inquiry.