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Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Bill gives immunity to Partha’s HPL post


Bill gives immunity to Partha's HPL post

OUR BUREAU
Calcutta, April 2: The Bengal government today granted immunity to MLAs who become chairpersons or directors of companies, a move seen as a pre-emptive measure against legal challenges to industries minister Partha Chatterjee's new role in Haldia Petrochemicals Ltd (HPL).
Through an amendment bill passed on the last day of the budget session, the state government has removed the post of a company's chairperson or director from the list of offices of profit. Elected members are not allowed to hold offices of profit.
Minister Chatterjee, who was made HPL chairperson last week, introduced the bill in the absence of chief minister Mamata Banerjee, who holds the home portfolio under which the subject falls.
Although the non-executive post does not carry any remuneration and minister Chatterjee had forgone the sitting fee of Rs 20,000 per board meeting, the government did not want to take any chances in view of the history of legal tussles involving HPL.
"I cannot take chances. I have to protect the state's interest," Chatterjee later said. "In the very first board meeting that I attended as chairman last week, I had declined any remuneration or fee to chair the meetings," he added.
HPL's private promoter, The Chatterjee Group (TCG), has taken the Bengal government to the International Court of Arbitration in Paris over the ownership issue.
TCG nominees on the HPL board had opposed the move to make the minister a director and the chairperson. But they were eventually outnumbered with the backing of the nominees of financial institutions.