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November 4, 1997


Guwahati HC summons Tata Tea directors Krishna Kumar, Kidwai

The special bench of the Guwahati high court on Tuesday ordered Tata Tea Managing Director R K Krishna Kumar, Executive Director S M Kidwai, and senior executive K Sridhar to appear before the court in person on Friday next.

The bench, consisting of Justice V D Gyani and Justice N S Singh, listed the case for November 7 as the original documents relating to the case had still to arrive from the Bombay high court.

Taking up the matter in a jampacked court as per the instructions of the Supreme Court, the high court order said the records from the Bombay high court were to be to be handed over to this court on Monday.

"In the absence of records, it is not practicable nor desirable to hear counsel,'' the order said, ignoring the repeated pleas of senior counsel Arun Jaitley, who was appearing for the Tata Tea managing director. Beside Jaitley, Mahesh Jethmalani appeared for Tata Tea while Prasanta Goswami appeared for S M Kidwai.

The Assam government was represented by the additional advocate general Pranab Kumar Pathank.

However, counsel for the Tata Tea hinted that they might approach the apex court challenging the order of the Guwahati high court of personal appearence of the Tata Tea top brass in this case.

The Supreme Court, in its order, had prohibited all courts including high courts in the country from entertaining any matter relating to the funding of the United Liberation Front of Assam militants, including the Tata Tea case, and directed the Guwahati high court to set up a special bench to consider a fresh grant of anticipatory bail to four Tata Tea executives.

The validity of the anticipatory bail granted by the Bombay high court will expire on November 7 when the case will be heard again by this special bench.

The bench on Tuesday ordered the registrar of the court to contact the registar of the Bombay high court for the related documents as per the apex court's order.

The battery of top lawyers engaged by the Tata Tea refused to make any comment on the content of the order and left for New Delhi in a special chartered flight.

Earlier, the Assam government had appealied to the Supreme Court to quash the anticipatory bail and sought custodial interrogation of Krsihna Kumar and other Tata Tea executives for their alleged role in funding the ultras.

The Tata Tea controversy


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