Multi-brand FDI: SC refuses to pass order to set time-frame for amended norms

The Supreme Court on Monday refused to pass any directive to the Centre for tabling the amended regulation allowing FDI in multi-brand retail sector within a time-frame and observed that the government is expected to follow the procedure concerned.

A Bench led by Justice R M Lodha discarded the argument by petitioner advocate M L Sharma that he was "almost certain" that the government will not place before the each House of Parliament the amended regulation by the RBI, allowing up to 51 per cent FDI in multi-brand retail.

Sharma's argument came after Attorney General GE Vahanvati adduced before the Bench the amended regulations by the RBI, in accordance with the court's views on the last date. The court had observed that before issuing the notification on the FDI, the government required to put in place a "legal regime" and bring about required amendments in the 2000 regulation as per the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA). The AG also informed that the regulations have now been duly amended and also published in the Gazette Notification dated October 30. Sharma, whose petition had challenged the notification for want of legal sanctity, then brought to the court's notice another provision in FEMA and requested the Bench to intervene and pass orders to the government for tabling the regulation as per the law.

The Bench questioned Sharma's anxiety and the basis of apprehension that the government will not do so. "If the procedures prescribe it, they (regulations) shall be laid. How do you anticipate that it will not be tabled. We cannot pass any direction. You cannot go on an assumption that the regulations will not be placed before the each House of Parliament," remarked the Bench.

Sharma however claimed that there was another such amendments regarding the Sebi regulations which were not placed before the House till date and that there was every possibility that the government shall act likewise.

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