|Notice on FDI norms violations: Rajan Mittal meets Anand Sharma|
In the wake of the Delhi High Court issuing notice to Bharti Walmart Pvt Ltd and Bharti Retail Ltd for allegedly violating Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) norms on retail trade, Mr Rajan Bharti Mittal on Thursday met the Commerce and Industry Minister Mr Anand Sharma.
Meanwhile, it is learnt that the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), which is the nodal body for FDI policy, is looking into the matter.
The High Court had on Wednesday issued notice to the Central Government also on a Public Interest Litigation (PIL), which alleged that Bharti Walmart was illegally carrying out multi-brand retail trade even though it was allowed to run only whole sale cash and carry trade (trading with firms having registration / licence certificates and not engage in retailing by selling to consumers directly).
Mr Mittal, who is heading the retail arm of the Bharti group, left Udyog Bhavan (which houses the Commerce and Industry Ministry) without responding to questions raised by media persons on the issue. Later, Mr Sharma also refused to divulge details regarding their discussions saying the Government will not comment on matters that are sub judice.
The PIL, filed by noted environmentalist Ms Vandana Shiva, wanted a probe into the operations of the two retail companies. The petitioner alleged that several established Indian firms were acting as ‘front’ companies for foreign trading companies and allowing the foreign companies to operate in Indian retail trade through the ‘backdoor’ route, thereby circumventing the norm that specifically bans FDI in multi-brand retail trade.
These foreign firms have majority control over the Indian firms, which are their front companies, it alleged. Despite protests against retail giants such as Walmart opening retail chains in the country on account of their operations 'threatening' the livelihood of Indian farmers and retail traders, Walmart tied up for a whole-sale joint venture with Bharti in 2007 and their stores are named Best Price ModernWholesale and Easy Day, the petitioner alleged.
The petitioner further alleged that the Centre allowed 100 per cent FDI in cash and carry whole sale trade without ensuring fool-proof checks and conditions to prevent the retail giants from indirectly entering the multi-brand retail trade. It also claimed that the DIPP had disclosed in a Right to Information application that Bharti or Walmart or any other company was given licence or approval to establish Easy Day stores in India.