On Friday, the Supreme Court extended the interim protection from arrest it had granted to four journalists against whom the Gujarat Police had issued summonses in connection with an article published on the Adani Group.
A bench of Justices Hrishikesh Roy and Sanjay Karol asked the Gujarat government to file its response on their pleas within a week.
The apex court was hearing pleas filed by Ravi Nair, Anand Mangnale, Benjamin Nicholas Brooke Parkin and Chloe Nina Cornish against the summonses.
Nair and Mangnale have challenged the summonses asking them to appear for questioning with respect to the preliminary enquiry (PE) into their article published on the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) website. The summons were issued by the Ahmedabad crime branch.
In October, Nair and Mangnale received notices from the crime branch, directing them to appear in person in connection with the PE launched on the complaint by an investor named Yogeshbhai Mafatlal Bhansali.
Parkin and Cornish have filed the other pleas. They were summoned by the Gujarat Police for a preliminary enquiry on a complaint filed by an investor in the Adani group companies over an article published by the Financial Times. The article was titled ‘Secret Paper Trail Reveals Hidden Adani Investors’.
In the top court, the duo had contended that they did not write the report in question.
Following a litany of allegations from Hindenburg Research, Adani Group stocks had taken a beating on the bourses. These allegations include those pertaining to fraudulent transactions and share-price manipulation, against the business conglomerate.
Meanwhile, the Adani Group has said that it complies with all laws and disclosure requirements and dismissed the charges as lies.
The Adani Group is a multinational conglomerate, headquartered in Ahmedabad. Founded by Gautam Adani in 1988 as a commodity trading business, the Group’s businesses include sea and airport management, electricity generation and transmission, mining, natural gas, food and infrastructure. More than 60 percent of the Adani Group’s revenue is derived from coal-related businesses.
At its peak, Adani was the largest Indian conglomerate, surpassing Tata Group. It lost more than $104 billion in value after fraud and market manipulation allegations by short-seller firm Hindenburg Research. The Adani Group has also attracted other controversies due to reports of stock manipulation, accounting irregularities, cronyism, tax evasion, environmental damage, and suing journalists.
Chairman and MD Gautam Adani has been described as being close to former Chief Minister of Gujarat and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). This has led to allegations of cronyism as his firms have won many Indian energy and infrastructure government contracts. In 2012, an Indian government auditor accused Modi of giving low cost fuel from a Gujarat state-run gas company to the Adani group and other companies. In Jharkhand, the BJP-led state government made an exception to its energy policy for Adani’s Godda power plant. Both the Adani Group and Modi’s government have denied allegations of cronyism.
In 2022, the company’s corporate debt totaled $30 billion. In August 2022, CreditSights, a unit of Fitch Ratings, warned that Adani’s recent aggressive expansion had hurt the group’s cash flow and credit metrics. It also stated that a potential “worst-case scenario” could lead the group to end up in a debt trap and a potential default. The CreditSights report garnered significant attention for its dire assessment of Adani’s “deeply overleveraged” book; after outreach by Adani, CreditSights softened its language but kept its main conclusion.