The validity of the decision of the Union of India to disinvest and transfer 51% shares of M/s. Bharat Aluminium Company Limited (hereinafter referred to as ‘BALCO’) is the primary issue in these cases. BALCO was incorporated in 1965 as a Government of India Undertaking under the Companies Act, 1956. Prior to its disinvestment it had a paid-up share capital of Rs.488.85 crores which was owned and controlled by the Government of India. The company is engaged in the manufacture of aluminium and had plants at Korba in the State of Chhattisgarh and Bidhanbag in the State of West Bengal. The Company has integrated aluminium manufacturing plant for the manufacture and sale of aluminium metal including wire rods and semi- fabricated products.
The Government of Madhya Pradesh vide its letter dated 18th March, 1968 wrote to BALCO stating that it proposed that land be granted to it on a 99 years lease subject to the terms and conditions contained therein. The letter envisaged giving on lease Government land on payment of premium of Rs.200/- per acre and, in addition thereto also to provide tenure land which was to be acquired and transferred on lease to BALCO on payment by it the actual cost of acquisition plus annual lease rent. Vide its letter dated 13th June, 1968 BALCO gave its assent to the proposal contained in the aforesaid letter of 18th March, 1968 for transfer of land to it.
BALCO intimated by this letter that the total requirement of land would be about 1616 acres. Thereafter, in addition to the Government land which was transferred, the Government of Madhya Pradesh acquired land for BALCO under the provisions of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 on payment of compensation. The District Collector, Bilaspur also granted permission under Section 165(6) of the M.P. Land Revenue Code, 1959 for acquiring/transferring private land in favour of BALCO. As a result of the aforesaid, BALCO set up it’s establishment on it’s acquiring land from and with the help of the State Government.
Since 1990-91 successive Central Government had been planning to disinvest some of the Public Sector Undertakings. In pursuance to the policy of disinvestment by a Resolution dated 23rd August, 1996 the Ministry of Industry (Department of Public Enterprises) Government of India constituted a Public Sector Disinvestment Commission initially for a period of three years. The Resolution stated that this Commission was established in pursuance of the Common Minimum Programme of the United Front Government at the Centre. The Commission was an independent, non-statutory advisory body and was headed by Shri G. V. Ramakrishna who was to be its Full-time Chairman. The Commission had four part-time Members. Paras 3, 4 and 5 of the said Resolution are as follows: –
“3. The broad terms of reference of the Commission are as follows: I. To draw a comprehensive overall long term disinvestment programme within 5-10 years for the PSUs referred to it by the Core Group. II. To determine the extent of disinvestment (total/partial indicating percentage) in each of the PSU. III. To prioritise the PSUs referred to it by the Core Group in terms of the overall disinvestment programme. IV. To recommend the preferred mode(s) of disinvestment (domestic capital markets/international capital markets/auction/private sale to identified investors/any other) for each of the identified PSUs. Also to suggest an appropriate mix of the various alternatives taking into account the market conditions. V. To recommend a mix between primary and secondary disinvestments taking into account Government’s objective, the relevant PSUs funding requirement and the market conditions. VI. To supervise the overall sale process and take decisions on instrument, pricing, timing, etc. as appropriate.
VII. To select the financial advisors for the specified PSUs to facilitate the disinvestment process. VIII. To ensure that appropriate measures are taken during the disinvestment process to protect the interests of the affected employees including encouraging employees’ participation in the sale process. IX. To monitor the progress of disinvestment process and take necessary measures and report periodically to the Government on such progress. X. To assist the Government to create public awareness of the Government’s disinvestment policies and programmes with a view to developing a commitment by the people.
XI. To give wide publicity to the disinvestment proposals so as to ensure larger public participation in the shareholding of the enterprises; and XII. To advise the Government on possible capital restructuring of the enterprises by marginal investment, if required, so as to ensure enhanced realisation through disinvestment. 4. The Disinvestment Commission will be advisory body and the Government will take a final decision on the companies to be disinvested and mode of disinvestment on the basis of advice given by the Disinvestment Commission. The PSUs would implement the decision of the Government under the overall supervision of the Disinvestment Commission. 5. The Commission while advising the Government on the above matters will also take into consideration the interests of stakeholders, workers, consumers and others having a stake in the relevant public sector undertakings.”
It may here be noted that by a Resolution dated 12th January, 1998 the earlier Resolution of 23rd August, 1996 was partly modified with deletion of paras 3, 4 and 5 and by substitution of the same by the following: “3(i) The Disinvestment Commission shall be an advisory body and its role and function would be to advise the Government on Disinvestment in those public sector units that are referred to it by the Government. 3(ii) The Commission shall also advise the Government on any other matter relating to disinvestment as may be specifically referred to it by the Government, and also carry out any other activities relating to disinvestment as may be assigned to it by the Government. 3(iii) In making its recommendations, the Commission will also take into consideration the interests of workers, employees and others stake holders, in the public sector unit(s).
3(iv) The final decision on the recommendations of the Disinvestment Commission will vest with the Government.” According to the Union of India, it laid down the broad procedures to be followed for processing the recommendations of the Disinvestment Commission. It was, inter alia, decided that : i. The Ministry of Finance (now Department of Disinvestment) would process the recommendations of the Disinvestment Commission, by inviting comments from the concerned administrative machinery; ii. Submit the recommendations to the Core Group of Secretaries for Disinvestment for consideration; iii. The recommendations of the Core Group of Secretaries would then be taken to Cabinet for decision;
iv. It was also decided that the Core Group of Secretaries would be headed by the Cabinet Secretary and its permanent members would be Finance Secretary, Revenue Secretary, Expenditure Secretary, Secretary Department of Public Enterprises, Secretary Planning Commission and Chief Economic Advisor, Ministry of Finance, and v. To implement the decisions, an Inter-Ministerial Group headed by the Secretary/Joint Secretary of the Administrative Ministry and consisting of Joint Secretaries of Department of Economic Affairs, Department of Public Enterprises, alongwith the Chairman and Managing Director of the Companies as Members and Director (Finance) of the company as the Convenor. In case of BALCO, the IMG consisted of Secretary level Officers and was headed by Secretary (Mines).
On 10th December, 1999 the Department of Disinvestment was set up and the responsibilities which were earlier assigned to the Ministry of Finance have now been transferred to this Department. The Disinvestment Commission in its 2nd Report submitted in April, 1997 advised the Government of India that BALCO needed to be privatised. The recommendation which it made was that the Government may immediately disinvest its holding in the Company by offering a significant share of 40% of the equity to a strategic partner. The Report further advised that there should be an agreement with the selected strategic partner specifying that the Government would within two years make a public offer in the domestic market for further sale of shares to institutions, small investors and employees thereby bringing down its holding to 26%.
The Commission also recommended that there should be an on-going review of the situation and the Government may disinvest its balance equity of 26% in full in favour of investors in the domestic market at the appropriate time. The Commission had recommended the appointment of a Financial Advisor to undertake a proper valuation of the company and to conduct the sale process. The Commission had categorised BALCO as a non-core group industry. The Chairman of the Disinvestment Commission wrote a letter dated 12th June, 1998 to the Secretary, Ministry of Mines, Government on India drawing the Government’s attention to the recommendation of the Commission for sale of 40% of equity in BALCO and to bringing down of the Government holding to 26% within two years.
This letter then referred to the 5th Report of the Commission wherein it had reviewed the question of strategic sale and had suggested that the Government may keep its shareholding below the level of investment being offered by the strategic buyer and its divesting some portion of equity to other entities. This letter noted that in these circumstances, it may be difficult to get in a multilateral financial institution to act fast in taking up share of BALCO. The Chairman of the Commission then recommended that “in keeping with the spirit of the recommendations of the 5th Report, you may now kindly consider offering 51% or more to the strategic buyer along with transfer of management. This sale will enable a smooth transaction with the participation of more bidders and better price for the shares. This will also be in keeping with the current policy as announced by the FM in his recent budget speech”.
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs had, in the meantime, in September 1997 granted approval for appointment of a technical and financial advisor, selected through a competitive process, for managing the strategic sale and restructuring of BALCO. Global advertisement was then issued inviting from interested parties Expression of Interest for selection as a Global Advisor. The advertisement was published in four financial papers in India and also in ‘The Economist’, a renowned financial magazine published abroad. Eight Merchant Banks showed their interest in appointment of the Global Advisor. The lowest bid of M/s. Jardine Fleming Securities India Ltd. was accepted and approved by the Cabinet Committee on Disinvestment on 9th March, 1999.
The Cabinet Committee on Disinvestment also approved the proposal of strategic sale of 51% equity in respect of BALCO. The decision of the Government to the aforesaid strategic sale was challenged by the BALCO Employees’ Union by filing Writ Petition No. 2249 of 1999 in the High Court of Delhi. This petition was disposed of by the High Court vide its order dated 3rd August, 1999. On 3rd March, 2000, the Union Cabinet approved the Ministry of Mines’ proposal to reduce the share capital of BALCO from Rs.488.8 crores to Rs.244.4 crores. This resulted in cash flow of Rs.244.4 crores to the Union Government in the Financial Year 1999-2000.
A formal Agreement between Jardine Fleming, the Global Advisor and the Government of India was executed on 14th June, 2000. The Scope of work of the Global Advisor, inter alia, included the development, updating and review of a list of potential buyers of the stake; preparing necessary documents; assisting the Government of India in sale negotiations with potential buyers and to advise on the sale price; to coordinate and monitor the progress of the transaction until its completion.
Thereafter, on 16th June, 2000 the Global Advisor, on behalf of the Government of India, issued an advertisement calling for “Expression of Interest” in leading journals and newspapers such as the Economist, London, the Mining Journal, London, the Economic Times, India, Business Standard, India and the Financial Express, India. The invitation was to Companies and Joint Ventures which may be interested in acquiring 51% shares of the Government of India in BALCO. The last date for submitting the expression of interest was 30th June, 2000 and the interested companies were required to submit their expression of interest together with their Audited Annual Reports and a profile describing their business and operations.
Eight companies submitted their Expression of Interest. These companies were as follows:
“i. Sterlite Industries (India) Ltd.
ii. Hindalco Industries Ltd.
iii. Tranex Holding Inc.
iv. Indian Minerals Corporation Plc.
v. VAW Aluminium AG, Germany
vi. ALCOA, USA
vii. Sibirsky, Russia
M/s. Jardine Fleming, Global Advisor made an analysis of the various bids on the basis of the financial and technical capability, familiarity with India and overall credibility. Thereupon two companies, namely, Indian Minerals Corporation Plc. and Tranex Holding Inc. were rejected. The Inter-Ministerial Group (hereinafter referred to as IMG) set up by the Union of India, accepted the expression of interest of six out of eight parties and it also decided that the bids of Sterlite and MALCO be treated as one. Thus there remained five prospective bidders but two, namely, VAW Aluminium AG, Germany and Sibirsky, Russia dropped out and the remaining three, namely, ALCOA, USA Hindalco and Sterlite conducted due diligence (inspection) on BALCO between September to December, 2000. The IMG considered the drafts of the Shareholders’ Agreement and the Share Purchase Agreement and had discussions with three prospective bidders and ultimately the said drafts were finalised on 11th January, 2001.
For the purpose of carrying out the asset valuation of BALCO, the Global Advisor shortlisted four parties from the list of Registered Government Valuers approved by the Income-Tax Department. On 18th January, 2001, BALCO invited quotations from the four Registered Valuers, so short listed, and the quotation of Shri P. V. Rao was accepted. Shri P. V. Rao was a registered valuer of immovable property and his team mates were Government Registered Valuers authorised to value plant and machinery. They were assisted in the work of valuation by officers of the Indian Bureau of Mines for assessing the values of existing mines.
Pending the receipt of the valuation report from Shri P. V. Rao, the Global Advisor on 8th February, 2001 requested the three bidders to submit their financial bids alongwith other necessary documents by 15th February, 2001, which was later extended by one day. On 14th February, 2001 Shri P. V. Rao submitted his asset valuation report to M/s. Jardine Fleming. On 15th February, 2001, an Evaluation Committee headed by the Additional Secretary (Mines) was constituted. This Committee was required to fix the reserve price of 51% equity of BALCO which was to be sold to the strategic party. The three contenders, namely, Alcoa, Hindalco and Sterlite Industries Ltd. submitted their sealed bids to the Secretary (Mines) and Secretary (Disinvestment) on 16th February, 2001. It is thereafter, that M/s. Jardine Fleming presented its valuation report together with the asset valuation done by Shri P. V. Rao to the Evaluation Committee to work out the reserve price.
The range of valuation of BALCO that emerged on various methodologies was as follows:-
(i) Discounted Cash Flow – Rs. 651.2 – 994.7 crores
(ii) Comparables – Rs. 587 – 909 cores
(iii) Balance Sheet – Rs. 597.2 – 681.9 crores
Thus, the range of valuation by all these methods came between Rs.587 and Rs.995 crores for 100% of the equity. Ipso facto, for 51% of the equity, the range of valuation came out as Rs.300 to Rs.507 crores. The Evaluation Committee then deliberated on the various methodologies and concluded, as per the affidavit of the Union of India, that the most appropriate methodology for valuing the shares of a running business of BALCO would be the Discounted Cash Flow method. It decided to add a control premium of 25% on the base value of equity (although the Advisor had viewed that the premium should range between 10-15%) and then add the value of non-core assets to arrive at a valuation of Rs.1008.6 crores for the company as a whole, 51% of which amounts of Rs.514.4 crores which was fixed as the Reserve Price.
According to the respondents, the Evaluation Committee felt that Asset Valuation Report appeared to have over valued the fixed assets of the company at Rs.1072.2 crores. The committee further observed that the fixed asset valuation method was only a good indicator of the value that could be realised if the business was to be liquidated, rather than for valuing the business as a going concern. Furthermore, the asset valuation method did not take into account the liabilities and contingent liability that go with the business.
When the financial bids were opened, it was found that the bid of Sterlite Industries was the highest at Rs.551.5 crores, the bid of Hindalco was Rs.275 crores while ALCOA had opted out. The report of the Evaluation Committee for acceptance of the bid which was higher than the reserve price was considered by the IMG which recommended the acceptance of the bid of Sterlite Industries to the core group of Secretaries. This core group in turn made its recommendation to the Cabinet Committee on Disinvestment which on 21st February, 2001 approved/accepted the bid of Sterlite Industries at Rs.551.5 crores. The Government’s decision was communicated to Sterlite Industries on that date.
The announcement of the decision to accept the bid of Sterlite Industries led to the initiation of legal proceedings challenging the said decision. On 23rd February, 2001 Dr. B. L. Wadhera filed Civil Writ Petition No. 1262 of 2001 in the Delhi High Court. This was followed by Writ Petition No. 1280 of 2001 filed by the employees of BALCO on 24th February, 2001 also in the High Court of Delhi. On that very date, i.e., on 24th February, 2001 another employee of BALCO, namely, Mr. Samund Singh Kanwar filed Civil Writ Petition No. 241 of 2001 in the High Court of Chhattisgarh. While the aforesaid writ petitions were pending there was a Calling Attention Motion on Disinvestment with regard to BALCO in the Rajya Sabha. Discussions on the said motion took place in the Rajya Sabha on 27th February, 2001 and the matter was discussed in the Lok Sabha on 1st March, 2001.
The motion “that this House disapproves the proposed disinvestment of Bharat Aluminium Company Ltd.” was defeated in the Lok Sabha by 239 votes to 119 votes. Soon thereafter on 2nd March, 2001, Shareholders Agreement and Share Purchase Agreement between the Government of India and Sterlite Industries Limited were signed. Pursuant to the execution of sale, 51% of the equity was transferred to Sterlite Industries Limited and a cheque for Rs.551.5 crores was received. It is not necessary to refer to the terms of the agreement in any great detail except to notice a few clauses which pertain to safeguarding the interest of the employees of the company.
Clauses H and J of the preamble reads as follows : “H. Subject to Clause 7.2, the Parties envision that all employees of the Company on the date hereof shall continue in the employment of the Company. J. The SP recognises that the Government in relation to its employment policies follows certain principles for the benefit of the members of the Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribes, physically handicapped persons and other socially disadvantaged categories of the society. The SP shall use its best efforts to cause the Company to provide adequate job opportunities for such persons. Further, in the event of any reduction in the strength of the employees of the Company, the SP shall use its best efforts to ensure that the physically handicapped persons are retrenched at the end.”
Clause 7.2 which contains the Representations, Warranties and Covenants of M/s. Sterlite Industries is as follows: “The SP represents and warrants to and covenants with each of the Government and the Company that: (a) it has been duly incorporated or created and is validly subsisting and in good standing under the laws of the jurisdiction indicated in the preamble to this Agreement; (b) it has the corporate power and authority to enter into and perform its obligations under this Agreement; (c) this Agreement has been duly authorised, executed and delivered by it and constitutes a valid and binding obligation enforceable against it in accordance with its terms; (d) it is not a party to, bound or affected by or subject to any indenture, mortgage, lease agreement, instrument, charter or by-law provision, statute, regulation, judgment, decree or law which would be violated, contravened, breached by or under which default would occur or under which any payment or repayment would be accelerated as a result of the execution and delivery of this Agreement or the consummation of any of the transactions provided for in this Agreement.
(e) Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in this Agreement, it shall not retrench any part of the labour force of the Company for a period of one (1) year from the Closing Date other than any dismissal or termination of employees of the Company from their employment in accordance with the applicable staff regulations and standing orders of the Company or applicable Law; and (f) Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in this Agreement, but subject to sub-clause (e) above, any restructuring of the labour force of the Company shall be implemented in the manner recommended by the Board and in accordance with all applicable laws. (g) Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in this Agreement, but subject sub-clause (e) above, in the event of any reduction of the strength of the Company’s employees the SP shall ensure that the Company offers its employees, an option to voluntarily retire on terms that are not, in any manner, less favourable than the voluntary retirement scheme offered by the Company which is referred to in Schedule 7.4 of the Share Purchase Agreement; and (h) It shall vote all the voting equity shares of the Company, directly or indirectly, held by it to ensure that all provisions of this Agreement, to the extent required, are incorporated in the Company’s articles of association.”
With the filing of the writ petitions in the High Court of Delhi and in the High Court of Chhattisgarh, an application for transfer of the petitions was filed by the Union of India in this Court. After the notices were issued, the company received various notices from the authorities in Chhattisgarh for alleged beach of various provisions of the M. P. Land Revenue Code and the Mining Concession Rules. Some of the notices were not only addressed to the company but also to individuals alleging violation of the provisions of the code and the rules as also encroachment having taken place on Government land by BALCO.
This led to the filing of the Write Petition No. 194 by BALCO in this court, inter alia, challenging the validity of the said notices. During the pendancy of the writ petition, the workers of the company went on strike on 3rd March, 2001. Some interim orders were passed in the transfer petition and subsequently on 9th May, 2001 the strike was called off. By Order dated 9th April, 2001, the writ petitions which were pending in the High Court of Delhi and Chhattisgarh were transferred to this Court being Transfer Case No. 8 of 2001 which pertains to the writ petition filed by BALCO Employees’ Union; Transfer Case No. 9 of 2001 pertains to the writ petition filed by Dr. B. L. Wadhera in the Delhi High Court and Transfer Case No. 10 of 2001 is the writ petition filed by Mr. Samund Singh Kanwar in the High Court of Chhattisgarh. On behalf of the BALCO Employees’ Union, Shri Dipankar P. Gupta, learned senior counsel submitted that the workmen have been adversely affected by the decision of the Government of India to disinvest 51% of the shares in BALCO in favour of a private party.
He contended that before disinvestment, the entire paid-up capital of BALCO was owned and controlled by the Government of India and it’s administrative control co-vested in the Ministry of Mines. BALCO was, therefore, a State within the meaning of Articles 12 of the Constitution. Reliance for this was placed on Ajay Hasia and Others vs. Khalid Mujib Sehravardi and Others, (1981) 1 SCC 722; Central Inland Water Transport Corporation Limited and Another Vs. Brojo Nath Ganguly and Another, (1986) 3 SCC 156. He also contended that by reason of disinvestment the workmen have lost their rights and protection under Articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution.
This is an adverse civil consequence and, therefore, they had a right to be heard before and during the process of disinvestment. The type of consultation with the workmen which was necessary, according to Shri Dipankar P. Gupta, was whether BALCO should go through the process of disinvestment; who should be the strategic partner; and how should the bid of the strategic partner be evaluated. Referring to the averment of Union of India to the effect that interest of the employees has been protected, Shri Dipankar P. Gupta, submitted that in fact there was no effective protection of the workmen’s interest in the process of disinvestment.
He further submitted that the workmen have reason to believe that apart from the sale of 51% of the shares in favour of Sterlite Industries the Agreement postulates that balance 49% will also be sold to them with the result that when normally in such cases 5% of the shares are disinvested in favour of the employees the same would not happen in the present case. Reliance was placed on the decision of National Textile Workers’ Union and Others vs. P.R. Ramakrishnan and others, (1983) 1 SCC 228 and it was also contended that even though there may be no loss of jobs in the present case but the taking away of the right or protection of Articles 14 and 16 is the civil consequence and, therefore, the workmen have a right to be heard. It was submitted that such rights and benefits are both procedural as well as substantive.
Procedural benefits and rights includes the right to approach High Court under Article 226 of the Constitution and this Court under Article 32 of the Constitution in the event of violation of any of their rights. This is a major advantage since it is a relatively swift method of redressal of grievances which would not be available to employees of private organisations. Instances were given of the substantive rights which flow from Articles 14 and 16 like, right to equality, equal pay for equal work, right to pension including the principle that there can be no discrimination in the matter of granting or withholding of pension vide Bharat Petroleum (Erstwhile Burmah Shell) Management Staff Pensioners vs. Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd. and Others, (1988) 3 SCC page 32), right to inquiry and reasons before dismissal etc.
The aforesaid contentions of Shri Gupta were supported by Shri G. L. Sanghi and Shri Ranjit Kumar, senior counsel, appearing for some of the Unions who were interveners in the writ petition filed by BALCO Employees’ Union. He submitted that the workers should have been heard at different stages during the process of disinvestment, the manner in which views may be invited and evaluated by the Government; the method of evaluation; the factors to be taken into consideration and the choice of the strategic partner; the terms and conditions under which the strategic partner will take over the employment of the workers and the terms and conditions of the Share Holders Agreement are the stages in which the workers should have been heard and consulted.
It was submitted that the decision of the Delhi High Court of 3rd August, 1999 does not come in the way of these contentions being raised inasmuch as the petition at that time was regarded as premature and the order which was passed actually preserves the workers’ rights to raise the contention in future. Reiterating these contentions Shri Ravindra Shrivastava, learned Advocate General, State of Chhattisgarh submitted that the State does not challenge the policy of disinvestment per se on principle as a measure of socio-economic reform and for industrial well being in the country. He however, contended that the implementation of the policy of disinvestment in the present case, has failed to evolve a comprehensive package of socio-economic and political reform and to structure the decision making process so as to achieve in a just, fair and reasonable manner, the ultimate goal of the policy and that the interest of the workers in the industrial sector cannot be undermined and, therefore, any decision which was likely to affect the interest of the workers and employees as a class as a whole cannot and ought not to be taken to the exclusion of such class, lest it may be counter productive.
He contended that the Disinvestment Commission had recommended that some percentage of equity share may be offered to the workers to solicit their participation in the enterprise and which would go a long way in proving the disinvestment plan meaningful and successful. In this regard, it was not shown from any material or record that the Government of India had at any stage addressed itself to this vital aspect of the disinvestment process or had taken into consideration the likely repercussions on the interest, right and status of the employees and workers. This non-consideration indicates that there has been an arbitrariness in not taking into consideration relevant facts in the decision making process.
It is further contended that the impugned decision defeats the provisions of the M.P. Land Revenue Code and goes against the fundamental basis on which the land was acquired and allotted to the company. Implicit in the submissions on behalf of the employees is the challenge to the decision to disinvest majority of the shares of BALCO in favour of Sterlite Industries Limited. The first question, therefore, which would arise for consideration, is whether such a decision is amenable to judicial review and if so within what parameters and to what extent.
On behalf of the Union of India, the Attorney General submitted that since 1990-91 successive Governments have gone in for disinvestment. Disinvestment had become imperative both in the case of Centre and the States primarily for three reasons. Firstly, despite every effort the rate of returns of governmental enterprises had been woefully low, excluding the sectors in which government have a monopoly and for which they can, therefore, charge any price. The rate of return on central enterprises came to minus 4% while the cost at which the government borrows money is at the rate of 10 to 11%. In the States out of 946 State level enterprises, about 241 were not working at all; about 551 were making losses and 100 were reported not to be submitting their accounts at all.
Secondly, neither the Centre nor the States have resources to sustain enterprises that are not able to stand on their own in the new environment of intense competition. Thirdly, despite repeated efforts it was not possible to change the work culture of governmental enterprises. As a result, even the strongest among them have been sinking into increasing difficulties as the environment is more and more competitive and technological change has become faster. In support, the Solicitor General submitted that the challenge to the decision to disinvest on the ground that it impairs public interest, or that it was without any need to disinvest, or that it was inconsistent with the decision of the Disinvestment Commission was untenable.