Even though the government sold its equity in the telecom company Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd (VSNL) to Tata Communications about 15 years ago, it is again in controversy. For last fifteen years, the government couldn’t monetise about 771 acre of prime land, valued at more than Rs 15,000 crore, which was separated from the company at the time of divestment in 2002.
It was alleged that the Tata group didn’t want to sell the land and distribute proceeds to the government. In 2011, Kapil Sibal initiated an enquiry into it.
As per share holder agreement (SHA) between the government and the Tata group, the surplus land belonging to VSNL was supposed to be demerged. In 2005-06, the government set up Hemisphere Properties India Ltd (HPIL) to take over surplus land.
The government owns 51.12 per cent stake in the company, while Tata Sons, Tata Power and other share holders of Tata Communications own rest of the share.
In gross violation of the Department of Public Enterprises (DPE) rules, the department of Telecommunications (DoT) has appointed a Deputy Director General (FEB) Saurabh Tiwari as government director in the board of Tata Communications Ltd (TCL) since 2011, ie, for last six years. According to a notification OM No. 18(1) -2016 MGMT, DPE fixed tenure of a government director for three years.
Tiwari, however, continues to be government director in TCL board.
What is shocking is that Tiwari is also chairman and managing director (CMD) of HPIL. This is a clear case of conflict of interest and is against corporate governance practices.
“I am shocked at the gross violation of DPE rules and complete disregard of corporate governance practices,” said B K Syngal, former CMD of VSNL.