As court transfers hearing, KoPT fate hangs in balance

Written by fe Bureau | Kolkata | Updated: Nov 6 2012, 06:50am hrs
The Calcutta High Court has pushed the legal battle of the Kolkata Port Trust (KoPT) and ABG- LDA to the regular bench, which means it will now be a prolonged dispute, with the court not making any emergency hearing.

The KoPT counsel on November 1 withdrew the case against ABG-LDA, but said there could be fresh suit of criminal conspiracy against the contractor.

But on November 2, KoPT chairman Manish Jain said the port counsel withdrew the case without the consent of the KoPT management and so it has filed a recall petition in terms of continuing its case against ABG.

While the case was dismissed at the court of justice Sambuddha Chakraborty, the court of justice Soumen Sen on Monday held a hearing and has referred the case to the regular bench.

KoPT in a written statement issued on Monday said it wanted to keep the contract alive in the interest of trade and industry. But the contractor, which was an Indo-French JV operating berths number 2 and 8 of Haldia has illegally, arbitrarily and with malafide intention abandoned the ten year contract. KoPT would take its legal course against ABG-LDA as available to it under the law, the statement said.

Although the KoPT counsel Arunabha Ghosh did not want to comment on the issue, state counsel Saptanshu Basu said KoPT might have to file a fresh case at the local court in Haldia if it wanted to claim penalty from the contractor.

KoPT chairman told FE that since ABG-LDA exited in the third year of its ten-year contract agreement, it is liable to a pay a penalty, which would run into thousands of crores.

The port is yet to make an assessment of the penalty payable, but ABG- LDA in order to avoid the penalty created circumstances so that it can justify its exit under the force majeure clauses of the contract agreement, Jain said adding that he would not allow the contractor to go scot-free.

ABG invested R145 crore and incurred a loss of R34 crore since 2010.