The  Supreme Court of India has on Friday upheld the disinvestment of shares by West Bengal Government in Metro Dairy to Keventer Agro and dismissed the appeal filed by Adhir Rajan Choudhary challenging the judgment of the Division Bench of the Calcutta High Court refusing to initiate a probe into the Metro Dairy share disinvestment.

The High Court, it may be recalled, by a judgement of a Division Bench of Justice Prakash Shrivatsava and Justice Rajarshi Bhardwaj had by its order dated June 13, 2022 dismissed the PIL filed by Adhir Ranjan Choudhury. It had been alleged that there was lack of transparency in West Bengal Government’s sale of its 47 per cent stake in Metro Dairy to private organisation Keventer Agro Ltd in 2017. In the same year, one Singapore- based private equity fund had invested in the shares of Keventer Agro Limited.

Closes controversy

The order of the Supreme Court today finally closes the controversy over the policy decision of the West Bengal Government to sell its 47 per cent stake in Metro Dairy in an auction which was purchased by Keventer Agro for ₹85 crore.

Metro Dairy was established in 1991 as a public-private venture. After the exit of NDDB, the state-run West Bengal Milk Producers Federation had 47 per cent stake, and the remaining 53 per cent was owned by Keventer Agro Ltd.

In 2017, the West Bengal Government had approved the sale of its 47 per cent stake to Keventer Agro in a public auction for ₹85 crore. Chowdhury had alleged in his petition that the Government, which set up the company with public money had suffered a loss of at least ₹500 crore by selling its stake in Metro Dairy to Keventer Agro at a low price. Accordingly, he had contended that a probe must be initiated into the alleged scam.

CBI Inquiry

“This vindicates the stand of Keventer Agro that the policy decision called for no interference, the valuation of shares of Metro Dairy was proper, the process followed by the Government was completely transparent and fair and the price offered by Keventer Agro for purchase of the shares was also adequate. The petitioner had also asked for a CBI inquiry which has as a consequence of this dismissal been rejected. Keventer Agro believes that the petitioner was not informed of the proper facts of the case before commencing the PIL, and now hopes that the matter will come to a rest allowing the company to focus on meeting the competition in its business, its growth and creating wealth for the State and its stakeholders,” Debanjan Mandal, Managing Partner, Fox & Mandal, representing Keventer Agro said in a statement.