A Parliamentary panel has asked the government to examine providing reservation to SC/STs in companies like Petronet LNG Ltd where state-controlled firms hold up to 50 per cent stake but are registered as private firms. No reservation in employment is provided in Petronet, India’s largest liquefied natural gas importer, as it is not a government company due to the structure of its shareholding.
Petronet was formed in pursuance of the Cabinet decision in 1997 with state-owned GAIL, ONGC, BPCL and IOC holding 12.5 per cent stake each.
A government company is one where 51 per cent of paid up share capital is held by the government or a state-owned company or companies.
The Committee on Welfare of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in a report tabled in Parliament said it was “unable to understand as to how it has been contended that the Government of India has no equity share in Petronet when four of its biggest oil companies have 50 per cent equity share.”
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“The Committee are of the view that Petronet is neither a private entity nor a government company but a joint venture,” the report said.
Since Petronet was conceptualised by the government and the four state oil firms hold 50 per cent equity, it is a fit case for in-depth examination for the applicability of reservation policy in the company, it said.
“In the first instance the Committee are constrained to note that the provision of reservation as enshrined under Article 16(4) of the Constitution of India was not implemented while setting up Petronet,” the report said.
It further observed that there are 66 companies having 50 per cent government equity and where reservation for SC/STs is not being given.
“The Committee, therefore, desire that as a first step the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas may in consultation with the Ministry of Law examine the feasibility of applicability of reservation policy in all the joint ventures where the Government oil companies have shares/equity of less than or equity to 50 per cent,” the report said.
The panel also wanted the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions and Ministry of Corporate Affairs to examine insertion of the reservation clause in shareholding agreement in all the existing and future joint ventures.
“The Committee expect that the issue be examined with an open mind in the light of the provision enshrined under Article 16(4) of the Constitution of India and an Action Taken Report submitted to it within four months,” the report said.