IFFCO drags govt to court: You are under mistaken belief you control ushttps://indianexpress.com/article/news-archive/web/iffco-drags-govt-to-court-you-are-under-mistaken-belief-you-control-us/

IFFCO drags govt to court: You are under mistaken belief you control us

The order came a month after the DoPT directed all ministries to take 'appropriate action'.

Taking the Centre to court,the Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative (IFFCO) has contended that the government has no shareholding in it and is under the “mistaken belief” that it has jurisdiction on the cooperative.

Admitting IFFCO’s petition in the Delhi High Court on April 3,the bench of Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice Indermeet Kaur issued notice to the Centre,seeking an explanation on the basis of its authority or jurisdiction over the cooperative and on its assertion that IFFCO stands covered under the administrative jurisdiction of the Department of Fertilisers and the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC).

Advocate Harish Salve,appearing on behalf of IFFCO,contended that “the government has no shareholding whatsoever or director on board of the petitioner (IFFCO) and it is under a mistaken belief that the impugned office memorandum (OM) dated 01.03.2013 has been issued treating the petitioner on parity with other multi-state cooperative societies like NAFED where the government has substantial holding”.

The Department of Fertilisers had issued an office memorandum on the day The Indian Express reported that IFFCO had illegally transferred the ownership and title of a Rs 50-crore bungalow in South Delhi to its managing director U S Awasthi,making him its absolute owner.

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“Vigilance activities of both multi-state cooperative societies IFFCO and KRIBHCO stand covered under administrative jurisdiction of the Department of Fertilisers,” stated the March 1 order,emphasising that the decision by members,office-bearers and employees of these cooperatives was covered under the CVC Act,2003.

The order came a month after the Department of Personnel & Training (DoPT) directed all ministries to take “appropriate action” against such cooperatives which have been accused of indulging in malpractices but were escaping public scrutiny on the ground that their business affairs could not be reviewed by the CVC since they did not receive any funding from the government.

Responding to the order of the Department of Fertilisers,IFFCO’s Director (HR and Legal) R P Singh called the March 1 order “completely bad in law and ultra virus of the Constitution”. He said this order and that issued by the DoPT on February 1 were “contrary to the provisions of the 2011 Constitution (97th) Amendment Act; the 2003 CVC Act; the 2002 Multi State Cooperative Societies Act; the 1988 Prevention of Corruption Act”.

“Department of Fertilisers has read something which is not written in DoPT OM no. 399/2010-AVD-III dated 1st February,2013… OM of DoPT does not mention the name of IFFCO. It only says that CVC has jurisdiction/superintendence over multi-state cooperative societies like NAFED,KRIBHCO,etc… IFFCO is not a multi-state cooperative like KRIBHCO and NAFED… unlike KRIBHCO,Government of India does not have any shareholding in IFFCO or any control (over it),” states Singh’s letter dated March 12.

“Government of India also does not provide any loan,grant in aid or guarantee against loan to IFFCO. It does not also have any say in the appointment of Directors of IFFCO. It cannot issue any directives to IFFCO. Hence,treating IFFCO like KRIBHCO is erroneous,” Singh said.

“We request the Department of Fertilisers,Government of India to remove IFFCO’s name from the OM dated March 1,2012,and not to take any action in pursuance of the said OM,” states the letter,copies of which have also been sent to the Secretary,Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilisers; M M Maurya,Under Secretary,DoPT; and the Secretary,CVC.