The action indicates that any businessman can be booked. This will cause fear, says Niranjan Hiranandani, Chairman of Niranjan Hiranandani Group

The business community on Wednesday sharply reacted to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) booking Aditya Birla group Chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla in the coal block allocation case stating that the matter was getting murkier and it would adversely affect investment in India.

‘Most unfortunate’

“This development is most unfortunate. It is extremely harmful to the investment climate in India and the inbound foreign investment. Now Mr. Parakh says that even the PM should be questioned. The matter is becoming murkier and it is sad,” said Shailesh Haribhakti, Chairman DH Consultants Pvt. Ltd., an accounting firm.

“It is unfortunate that they (CBI) are now looking at everything in a wrong outlook. This will dissuade people from investing. The action on Mr. Birla indicates that any businessman can be booked and everything you have done is wrong. This will cause fear,” said Niranjan Hiranandani, past-president of Indian Merchants Chamber and Chairman of Niranjan Hiranandani Group.

However, a section of the business community felt that the CBI was doing its job. “The coal scam is monitored by the Supreme Court and the CBI is doing its job. Any interference amounts to contempt of court. Let them (CBI) investigate and the innocent will come out clean. This (Birla) issue will not affect India’s prominence,” said Venugopal Dhoot, Chairman, Videocon Group.

PTI reports:

“Kumar Mangalam Birla is a very reputed industrialist, and comes from an iconic family. The industry stands by him. This is not a very good thing for the confidence of industry,” President of PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry Suman Jyoti Khaitan said.

Expressing similar sentiment, Assocham Secretary-General D. S. Rawat said: “I think he was a non-Executive Chairman at that time and filing an FIR against a person, who is not involved in the day-to-day decision making of the company, will certainly raise a question in the minds of the industry people.”

Impact on economy

Describing the development as unfortunate, former Infosys board member T. V. Mohandas Pai said: “It seems investigating agencies have run amok. Unless one has strong evidence, targeting business leaders will have a bad impact on the economy.”

The CBI, on Tuesday, filed a case against Mr. Birla as a representative of the Aditya Birla Group and his group company, aluminium maker Hindalco, for alleged corruption in the allocation of Talabira two coal blocks in Odisha, which was allotted to it on November 10, 2005.

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