The Supreme Court (SC) has directed the Central Empowered Committee (CEC) to investigate alleged illegal tie-ups between Jindal Steel and Power Limited (JSPL) and Sarda Mines. The directive was given after a petition alleged that Sarda Mines had sold iron ore to Naveen Jindal’s firm JSPL at a rate cheaper than the market rate which resulted in a loss of Rs8,000 crore to the government.
As per the SC directive, CEC will have to submit its investigation report to the Supreme Court within six weeks. The directive was given when a public interest litigation was filed by Odisha-based journalist Rabi Das. The petition alleged that a large part of financial management of Sarda Mines is in the hands of Jindal Group, which is in violation of Rule 37 of the Mines Act.
The petition alleges that two firms, Sarda Merchandise Private Limited and Sarda Heights and Dales Private Limited have 49.5 per cent stake each in Sarda Mines Private Limited. Jindal’s firm Mineral Management Services has a 45 per cent stake in Sarda Merchandise whereas 45 per cent stake rests with Jagran Developers. According to the petition, both firms are associated with Jindal.
According to the petition, the controlling stakes in Sarda Merchandise and in Sarda, that is Sarda Mines, is effectively in Jindal’s hands. The petition alleges that Sarda Mines sold iron ore to Jindal’s firm at an average rate of Rs400 per ton, which was way lower than the market rates.