The Congress on Thursday said a thorough investigation into the Adani issue is necessary, holding that any committee other than a JPC will be nothing but an “exercise in legitimisation and exoneration.”
Congress General Secretary Communications Jairam Ramesh said the proposal before the Supreme Court for setting up of a committee by the government can hardly ensure transparency.
In a statement, he said, a Supreme Court bench on February 13, while hearing petitions on the Adani-Hindenburg matter, discussed the creation of a committee of experts to examine the regulatory regime post the allegations made by the US-based short-seller.
He said it had directed the government to give its submissions in this regard by February 17.
“Where the allegations are of close, intertwined proximity between the ruling dispensation, the government of India and the Adani Group, the setting up of a committee with terms of reference proposed by the Government of India can hardly carry any insignia or reassurance of independence or transparency,” he said.
“It is an exercise initiated by the two principal actors — the government and the Adani Group — to cover up, avoid, evade and bury all genuine scrutiny. It is becoming clear that the proposed Committee is part of a carefully orchestrated exercise by these vested interests to prevent any real investigation into the Adani Group’s relationship with the ruling regime,” the Congress leader alleged.
“If the prime minister and his government are to be held accountable, any committee other than a JPC will be nothing but an exercise in legitimisation and exoneration,” he claimed.
Ramesh said given the nature of the allegations, it is imperative that the “link” between Adani and the ruling regime is examined in the full light of day by elected officials accountable to the public.
“An evaluation of the regulatory and statutory regime by experts is in no manner equivalent to an investigation by a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC). Such a committee, however competently staffed, cannot be a substitute for a thorough investigation into the political-corporate nexus that has come to light in the last two weeks. It simply does not have the authority, resources, or jurisdiction to examine the issues that the Opposition has raised,” he said, asserting that a JPC probe on the Adani issue is necessary.
He claimed several JPCs have been constituted in the past to inquire into matters of public importance such as irregularities in securities and banking transactions as well as the stock-market scam of 2001.
These reports have been crucial to prosecutions that have followed and have provided the bedrock for legislative changes to prevent similar manipulative practices, he claimed.
The Congress has been demanding a JPC probe into the allegations against the Adani Group by US-based short-seller Hindenburg Research. The Adani Group has dismissed the allegations as baseless.
Meanwhile, Adani’s embattled conglomerate said its balance sheet is “very healthy” and is laser focused on continuing business momentum, as it looked to reassure investors to keep faith in the conglomerate despite a share rout triggered by a damning report by a US short-seller.
Group CFO Jugeshinder (Robbie) Singh, in an earnings call, said the group is confident of its internal controls, compliance and corporate governance. Separately, it released a compendium of group companies to highlight that it has adequate cash reserves and has ability to refinance debt.
“Our balance sheet is very healthy. We have industry-leading development capabilities, strong corporate governance, secure assets and strong cash flows,” Singh said. “Once the current market stabilises, we will review our capital market strategy, but rest assured we are confident in our continued ability to deliver business that provides superior returns to shareholders.”
The group has been under pressure since the Hindenburg Research, on January 24, accused it of accounting fraud and stock manipulation, allegations that the conglomerate has denied as “malicious”, “baseless” and a “calculated attack on India”.