Madras HC directs Lokpal to ascertain complaint status against ex-IAS Ramesh Abhishek and others

KR Srivats New Delhi | Updated on July 20, 2020

Complaint filed by 63 moons technologies contesting merger with NSEL; matter to be heard again by Madras High Court in four weeks

The Madras High Court has directed Lokpal to ascertain the present status of a complaint filed by 63 moons technologies against ex-IAS officer Ramesh Abhishek, former head of erstwhile Forward Markets Commission, for alleged misuse of his official position as commodities market regulator in recommending the merger of the ₹5,600-crore scam-hit National Spot Exchange Ltd (NSEL) with the company.

This direction comes after the Madras High Court on July 14 heard through a video conferencing mode a writ petition filed by 63 moons in February, sources said. The petition was filed against Lokpal in Madras High Court on a complaint made (with Lokpal) by 63 moons technologies in May 2019 against Abhisek and others.

“The learned counsel for the respondent is directed to ascertain the present status of the complaint made by the petitioner dated May 15, 2019. Post the writ petition after four weeks,” said the Madras High Court order.

63 moons’ plaint

It may be recalled that in the complaint made before Lokpal in May 2019, 63 moons had alleged that Abhishek and others misled the government into ordering the merger of NSEL with 63 moons (earlier Financial Technologies). 63 moons contended that FMC had no locus in making such a recommendation.

It may be recalled that in July 2019 an eight-member Lokpal bench headed by former judge of the Supreme Court Pinaki Chandra Ghosh had sought the CVC report on Abhishek within a fortnight. 63 moons had filed a similar complaint with the Central Vigilance Commission against Abhishek.

Lokpal is a body established under the Lokpal and Lokayukta Act 2013 to enquire into complaints of corruption against public servants and related parties.

Abhishek retired last year after serving as Secretary in Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT).

Merger set aside by Supreme Court

The Supreme Court had in early May last year set aside the merger order issued by the government. The apex court did not find the matter as one of public interest and therefore set aside the merger order.

The Supreme Court had observed that the expressions used by the Centre, and erstwhile commodity market regulator FMC, “in relation to public interest have relation only to the businesses of the two companies that are sought to be amalgamated”.

The apex court said that the only reason that remained for merger was contained in the FMC recommendation, which the court concluded was for “protection of private interest of a group of investors/traders, distinct from public interest”.

Post the 2013 NSEL payment crisis, the FMC, under the Chairmanship of Abhishek, had recommended that crisis-ridden NSEL be merged with its parent Financial Technologies, which is now 63 moons technologies.

Published on July 20, 2020

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