Biswa Bangla Marketing Corporation Ltd, which is allegedly on the wrong foot regarding trade mark registration has been once again charged wth illegal incorporation. A team of professionals and thinkers backed by BJP met West Bengal governor Kesari Nath Tripathi on Tuesday to tell him that the said company’s incorporation has been illegal and that Mamata Banerjee and her nephews were trying to make wrongful gains.
While the West Bengal government is claiming Biswa Bangla Marketing Corporation to be a state owned and managed company, subscription sheet submitted to the registrar of companies (ROC) doesn’t show that the shares of the company were held by the governor. There is no gazette notification in regards to nomination of the directors by the governor, the memorandum submitted to the governor said.
The company’s 99.99% share are held by West Bengal State Export Promotion Society, a society registered under the State Society Registration Act, 1961, according to Ashok Ghosh, a chartered account and Shamik Dasgupta, a stock market arbitrator, both who digged into the issue.
ROC sources confirmed that the subscription sheet doesn’t conform the government of India’s notification, which says that the shares of the government company should be held by the President of India if it is centre owned company and the shares should be held by the governor of the state if it is state owned company
The department of company affairs, under the ministry of corporate affairs through its office memorandum No.15/32/65-IGC, dated October 13, 1965 clarified the holding pattern of a government company.
Ghosh alleged that the state has also violated the provisions of the Society Registration Act, 1961, since under Section 4(2) of the said Act, a society shall be engaged in activities beneficial to the public or to a section of the public. Therefore promotion of company by a society registered under the said Act for commercial purpose defeats the basic objective of the Act.
Biswa Bangla marketing corporation has seven stores, four in Kolkata and three respectively in Darjeeling, Bagdogra and New Delhi, which markets the products made by local artisans and also sells packaged liquid jaggery. Besides, the government uses the Biswa Bangla logo in all its event and brands various government institutions and departments including transport, sports, industry, information and culture and others with it.
Dasgupta alleged despite dispute with the ownership of the brand there is lack of transparency regarding the money being spent and the revenue being earned on account of the said brand. There has been continuous failure in submitting any of its annual audited accounts and annual return since its inception. Such non-compliances are causing imposition of penalty and, in turn, wastage of public money.
Public money is being used for promotion of a disputed brand. While the government claims that the brand belongs to the state, documents available from the office of the registrar of trade mark does not substantiate the same.
According to Ghosh ownership of a brand belongs to an entity who has got it registered in its name but not to the artist who has created the design. The artist cannot allow any person to use the brand verbally and without proper legal documentation. “If the ownership cannot be established by the state government and at a future date, the ownership of the brand is established by any individual there could be a high risk on the government exchequer towards the settlement of claim that would be claimed by such individual. In that case, public money will be misused twice, firstly to create the brand value for a disputed brand and finally for payment towards the settlement of claim,” both according to Ghosh and Dasgupta.
Mukul Roy, former All India Trinamool Congress, Vice President, who raised the controversial issue after joining the BJP has although filed cases against Abhisek Banerjee, Trinamool Congress MP and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s nephew, who was claimed the trade mark in two instances, Chandra Kumar Bose, BJP’s national executive member, said such irregularities like illegal incorporation should be brought to the notice of the governor. “The governor assured appropriate measure in this respect”, he said.
The ministry of corporate affairs should have taken suo motto action against such illegal incorporation, felt Dr. Bikram Sarkar, West Bengal’s former industry secretary.
Rajiva Sinha, West Bengal’s MSME secretary, who is a director and holds 0.1% share in Biswa Bangla Marketing Corporation, didn’t want to comment on the issue. Other directors in the company include Harsh Neotia, Rudra Chatterjee and Mohua Banerjee and Subal Panja.