Republic TV's Legal Editor spoke to former Solicitor General of India Mr. Harish Salve on the Enron Saga, as a part of the channel's Mega Exclusive investigation into the scandal.
Excerpts from the interview:
RHYTHM: To understand what really happened in the Enron saga, we are speaking to Former Solicitor General of India Mr Harish Salve, who was replaced when India had a good case but threw it all away. Mr. Salve, thank you for joining us. The first thing that I want to ask you is - you were at the helm of affairs when the Dabhol controversy happened. You were the Solicitor General, you were later replaced. Do you remember how the case was? Do you think the Enron case as it was, was a good case for India, sir?
HARISH SALVE: Rhythm, this is quite a while ago. I remember first draw to action on behalf of financial institutions and we had taken the provision that PTA is tainted by fraud.....I don't remember the details why but, I do remember we were at a pretty decent place. We got interim junctions. The matter was carried to the Supreme Court. I think we successfully defended to the court to try and resolve it.. But, at that time all the junctions were in place. The next thing we knew is, to the best of my recollection, that the GE battle took off in action against the insurance companies, in which it was a common premise that the 'PTA is valid but, PTA is not paying'. So they got some [inaudible] in their favour.
The insurance company brought the matter against Government of India and State of Maharashtra. The Government of India was absolutely clear that there was no action and how can you accuse the Government of India without any merit. I thought we had a pretty good defence. But again, I am talking about 2002-04. So, I thought it was a pretty good case. But, memory fades and then there was change of lawyer, then I have absolutely no idea of what happened.
RHYTHM: And Mr. Salve, we also wanted to know about the case, you were dropped and unceremoniously there was a Pakistani Lawyer Khawar Qureshi who was brought in. We have papers that indicate he was paid 200-300 pounds per hour. At a time when there were escalated tensions with Pakistan. Why do you think the Government would do something that is so out of the ordinary — to drop its top most lawyer who is ready to appear for them at a small charge and bring in an internaional lawyer — a Pakistani lawyer who is asking for hiked rate.
HARISH SALVE: Well, I don't know. This is something which you can ask the people who had arrived at that time. I mean a lawyer is the choice of the client. They wanted somebody they got somebody. Why they got, how they got, whom selected, whom is the matter of........I don't honestly know, Rhythm. As far as we were concerned, we were out of it and that was the end of it. By God's kindness I have never had [inaudible] bothered to find out what happened
RHYTHM: How did this entire proceeding happen Mr. Salve? The fact that you were at the helm of affairs and were suddenly told to leave and someone was brought in. Was it a smooth process? Did they ask you for anything? Did you give them any opinion?
HARISH SALVE: No.....no. I remember we were working on something, Shailendra Swarup and I. He told me that they wanted the work in progress and I said look it is not fair to say work in progress to somebody because by definition it is not in progress and who takes the responsibility? I mean this is again you are asking me things which I [inaudible].
RHYTHM: Right. By work in progress Mr. Salve, you mean they wanted some notes which you might have made in the Enron case to be handed over to Qureshi?
HARISH SALVE: Yeah, we were working on it. You know stuff which we have done and [inaudible] work in progress is my tentative work. So, some may say it's my tentative work and the fact that if I can't take responsibility, it is not fair to pass it off. If somebody says it is from Mr. Salve, then I mean I myself can change it completely. So that's it. But, this is again I don't know a long time ago which I don't remember at all. After all.....