In a setback to India, Britain’s Cairn Energy Plc has secured a French court order to seize some 20 government properties in Paris to recover a part of the USD 1.72 billion due from New Delhi following an arbitration panel overturning levy of retrospective taxes. HP Ranina, Senior Advocate of SC talks about the next course of actions on GoI’s part.
ET Now: If it is too little too late the government is saying that we are looking at an amicable solution?
Government should do the right thing of finding an amicable solution because we have to deal with international and foreign investors from time to time and certainly we should establish the best possible relations with them. So, if an amicable solution can be found that is the best option. In the meanwhile, the government may go and appeal to a higher court against the order of the French court which has frozen the assets or which has allowed Cairn to take over the assets. So, we can go and appeal—that is a possibility which of course every litigant has and if that is possible, the government should try to go to a higher court and appeal against the order of the French Court.
In the meanwhile, they must try to come to an amicable settlement and if some money has to be paid, I think they should pay it and get over with it because this is the best way to get out of this tricky situation, it has been going on for a very long time. What they can do in the long run is different matter, but as things stand I think they should try to do some fire fighting, get over with this problem and make sure that Indian assets are not impounded or seized in anyway, government needs to protect our assets which is very important.
ET Now: This is of course coming in at a time when the Indian government had asked the banks also to ensure that they are able to take out all their money from the nostro accounts besides that Cairn Energy had sued Air India as well. Don’t you think the time for India to find an amicable solution was many years ago, we are way too late in the game now to be able to find any solution for it?
Yes, you are right that this should have been done a long time ago, especially when the government took charge in 2014, as this is a legacy of the earlier government where the retrospective amendment was introduced by the late Mr Pranab Mukherjee when he was finance minister and subsequently when the new government took over, it was expected to find some solution, but for whatever reason it has not been done. So, while a lot of time has elapsed, even now it is not too late to find an amicable settlement, because I think even Cairn is interested in having an amicable settlement.
So, irrespective of the fact that lot of time has passed, they can still come to an amicable settlement and try to resolve this issue as fast as expeditiously as they can because this is in the interest of both India and foreign investors and if an amicable settlement can be reached as indicated by the Finance ministry officials, then they should pursue that matter as soon as they can. In the meanwhile, they can go and appeal and make sure that the assets are not seized by Cairn as they have been permitted to do so by the French court.