In its probe into global retail giant Wal-Mart's lobbying activities in the US for entry into India, the government today asked the general public to provide it with all the important information available with them on the matter.
The government has appointed a one-man Inquiry Committee, headed by former Chief Justice of Punjab & Haryana High Court Justice Mukul Mudgal, to inquire into reports on the US lobbying activities of Wal-Mart for access to India market.
The Committee has to submit its report within three months and it is being provided administrative and functional support by the Ministry of Corporate Affairs in its probe.
"Now, the Government of India is inviting all members of the public to furnish information having a bearing on the Terms of Reference including document(s), if any, within a fortnight to the Convenor, Wal-Mart Inquiry Committee," the Corporate Affairs Ministry said in a statement.
Following reports about Wal-Mart's lobbying activities among the US lawmakers since 2008 for facilitating its access to Indian market, the government late last year assured in Parliament to get the matter probed by a retired judge.
Subsequently, the government set up the inquiry committee, whose terms of reference include inquiring into "media reports on disclosures of Wal-Mart before the US Senate regarding their lobbying activities and details thereof."
The committee would also look into "whether Wal-Mart undertook any activities in India in contravention of any Indian law", and any other matter relevant to this issue.
The Indian government initiated this probe into the lobbying activities by Wal-Mart in the US for gaining access to Indian market, after disclosures about these activities caused a furore and a political debate in India in December.
However, Wal-Mart has continued to lobby with the American lawmakers on issues related to foreign investment norms in India, as also others, and spent a total amount of USD 6.13 million on the same during 2012.
As per the latest Congressional records of lobbying disclosure reports, the US-based Wal-Mart Stores spent a total amount of USD 1.48 million (about Rs eight crore) on lobbying for various issues, including on "discussions related to FDI in India", during the last quarter ended December 31, 2012.
This has taken the total lobbying bill of the company for entire 2012 to USD 6.13 million (about Rs 33 crore), the lobbying disclosure records available with the US Senate show.
Wal-Mart has been lobbying with the US lawmakers on dozens of issues every quarter, whose disclosures it