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Tag: october

Bihar jailbreak: 5 prisoners escape from Central Jail in Buxar

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Five prisoners escaped from Central Jail in Bihar’s Buxar late Friday night, ANI reported.More details are awaited.This is the third major prison escape this year. On November 27, Khalistan Liberation Force terrorist (KLF) Harminder Singh Mintoo had escaped from Punjab’s Nabha Jail along with five others.On October 30, eight SIMI operatives escaped from Bhopal Central Jail. They were gunned down in an encounter by the state police.

Uniform Common code part of govt’s political agenda: Oppn tells Law Commission

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Most of the opposition parties who have responded to the Law Commission questionnaire on the contentious uniform civil code have dubbed the move to refer the matter to it as part of the BJP government’s “political agenda” with some of them even questioning the timing ahead of Uttar Pradesh polls.Responding to the questionnaire, parties such as Congress, BSP and TMC are learnt to have refrained from saying as to whether they support to a common code or not. They have, however, dubbed the decision of the government to refer the matter to the law panel as part of its political agenda to further its political interests, sources said.Some parties have also questioned the timing of the decision to refer the matter to the Commission ahead of the Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls due early next year.The BSP, which was perhaps the first party to respond to the law panel, has slammed Prime Minister Narendra Modi for allegedly imposing the agenda of the RSS on the people.Responding to the law panel’s request to answer the questionnaire, BSP said the party is attaching a press statement issued by Mayawati on October 25 in Lucknow.Instead of answering the 16 questions put out by the law panel, the BSP said the press statement is its response to the questionnaire.The BSP statement said the BJP has been trying to impose the agenda of the RSS on the people ever since it came to power at the Centre.Asaduddin Owaisi’s All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) is learnt to have opposed a common code and has supported its stand through certain court orders.The NCP is learnt to have opposed the practice of “instant triple talaq” but has by and large supported separate personal laws.Highly-placed sources in the panel said the questionnaire has so far received over 40,000 responses which continue to pour in even after the expiry of the deadline.While the deadline to send the responses ended on December 21, the law panel said it would continue to entertain responses received after the deadline.”Uniform Civil Code is one of the important projects before the Law Commission. The responses/replies received by the Commission are being processed. The response/replies received, if any, after the date may also be considered,” it said in a brief statement.Should the practice of triple talaq be abolished and whether a uniform civil code should be optional, the Law Commission had on October 7 asked the public seeking response on these sensitive issues. The All Indian Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) had slammed the questionnaire, saying it was uncalled for.Amid a raging debate on uniform civil code, the law panel had sought public views on the subject to revise and reform family laws, saying the aim is to address social injustice and its not against plurality of laws.The Commission said the objective behind the endeavour is to address discrimination against vulnerable groups and harmonise the various cultural practices even as it assured the people the “norms of no one class, group or community will dominate the tone and tenor of family law reforms”.In an accompanying questionnaire, the Commission had asked whether the existing personal laws and customary practices need codification and whether it would benefit people.Should the practice of triple talaq be abolished, retained or retained with suitable amendments; and whether a uniform civil code should be optional are among 16 queries by the commission.

WCD Ministry seeks monthly reports on sexual harassment

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Women and Child Development (WCD) Ministry on Wednesday issued fresh guidelines in the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013, asking all ministries and their departments to furnish monthly report on all sexual harassment cases registered in that particular month. The guidelines, issued via an order of the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), mandated that the monthly report should also contain the details of cases disposed of and the action taken in the reported cases.The guidelines comes after a meeting that WCD Minister Maneka Gandhi had on October 26 with the heads of the internal complaints committees of different ministries and their departments wherein cases of sexual harassment which were pending with government offices were also examined.“On the basis of the discussions, it was decided that DoPT will issue fresh instructions so that some of the issues can be suitably addressed,” said a ministry release. Apart from that, Gandhi’s meeting had in attendance the director of DoPT.“The development is a procedural one, where we look toward plugging any gaps in the implementation of the act,” said a DoPT official, who issued the order, dated December 22, 2016.The new guidelines also stated that ‘as far as practical’ inquiries in such cases should be completed within 30 days of the complaints. And that, “in no case should it take more than 90 days as per the limit prescribed under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013,” it stated.The guidelines also mandated that no complainant should be victimised and that, for a period of five years from the day the complaint was made, the ICC should ensure that she is not subjected to vendetta, or is posted under the officer against whom the complaint is made, or any other officer who may subject her to any form of harassment.“In case of any victimisation, the complainant may submit a representation to the Secretary in the case of ministries/departments and head of the organisation in other cases. These representations should be dealt with sensitivity, in consultation with the complaints committee, ministries/departments and head of the organisation in other cases, and a decision taken within 15 days of the submission of the same,” the memorandum read. The guidelines come close on the heels of Gandhi announcing a review of the internal complaints committees in government offices.Late October this year, Maneka Gandhi announced the said committee because cases of delays in probes have been brought to her notice. She told DNA that she was compiling the cases in this regard.Over a month before that, in a DoPT memorandum dated September 9, 2016, and another dated July 11, 2016, the DoPT issued orders reiterating the seniority of the chairperson of the complaint committee.The orders maintained that the chairperson of the complaints committee “is legally competent to hold an inquiry into a case irrespective of the fact that the chairperson of such Committee is lower in rank to the employee against whom the allegations have been made” as per the July 11 mandate.Answering a Lok Sabha question in August last year, Gandhi said that there were 526 cases of sexual harassment at the workplace in 2014. She further informed that 57 cases were reported at office premises and 469 cases were registered at other places related to work during 2014.

India eases visa process for Bangladeshis

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a bid to ease the procurement of Indian tourist visas for Bangladeshis, India will now allow those with confirmed travel tickets to submit their visa applications directly without prior appointments.”As part of ongoing efforts to streamline, liberalise and ease the process of securing Indian visas, the High Commission of India will allow all Bangladesh travellers with confirmed air, train or bus tickets to submit their tourist visa applications without e-token or prior appointment dates from January 1, 2017,” the Indian High Commission in Dhaka said in a press release on Wednesday.”The date of journey should be after 7 days but within one month of submission of the visa application form,” it said.The Indian Visa Application Centre in Mirpur will receive walk-in tourist visa applications from confirmed travellers and senior citizens from January 1.Those who already have appointment dates can continue to submit their tourist visa applications in centres at Gulshan, Uttara, Motijheel, Mymensingh, Barisal, Khulna, Jessore, Rangpur, Rajshahi, Chittagong and Sylhet.The mission also said that its pilot project started in October for allowing walk-in visa application facility for women travellers and their immediate family members has been “very successful”.The Mirpur visa application centre will start taking those walk-in applications from January 1 instead of the centre in Uttara, it said.

India to liberalise visa rules for Bangladeshis to promote tourism

Dhaka: In a bid to ease the procurement of Indian tourist visas for Bangladeshis, India will now allow those with confirmed travel tickets to submit their visa applications directly without prior appointments.

“As part of ongoing efforts to streamline, liberalise and ease the process of securing Indian visas, the High Commission of India will allow all Bangladesh travellers with confirmed air, train or bus tickets to submit their tourist visa applications without e-token or prior appointment dates from 1 January 2017,” the Indian High Commission here said in a press release on Wednesday.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

“The date of journey should be after seven days but within one month of submission of the visa application form,” it said.

The Indian Visa Application Centre in Mirpur will receive walk-in tourist visa applications from confirmed travellers and senior citizens from 1 January.

Those who already have appointment dates can continue to submit their tourist visa applications in centres at Gulshan, Uttara, Motijheel, Mymensingh, Barisal, Khulna, Jessore, Rangpur, Rajshahi, Chittagong and Sylhet.

The mission also said that its pilot project started in October for allowing walk-in visa application facility for women travellers and their immediate family members has been “very successful”.

The Mirpur visa application centre will start taking those walk-in applications from 1 January instead of the centre in Uttara, it said.

First Published On : Dec 28, 2016 18:39 IST

Kashmir Reader: Newspaper printing again after ban lifted

The Kashmir Reader resumes publication after a government ban of nearly three months.

Demonetization: Workers laid off on refusing to accept salary in old notes

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Workers employed by a builder on Tuesday complained to police that their services were terminated after they refused to accept salary in demonetized currency notes.”On complaint of the workers, the builder has been called for questioning. If any illegality is found, action will be taken against him. Also, efforts will be made so that workers get salary through cheques,” DSP Arvind Yadav said.They also held a protest outside the builder’s office.A worker, Shesh Kumar, alleged, “The salary for October was paid in old currency notes which was accepted by the workers. Now, the builder is pressurizing us to accept November’s salary and that for December in advance in old currency notes.””When we refused, the builder informed us that our services have been terminated,” the worker alleged.

Kirti Azad terms Arun Jaitley ‘inefficient’, seeks his resignation

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Continuing his tirade against Arun Jaitley, suspended BJP leader and MP Kirti Azad on Sunday termed the Finance Minister as an “inefficient” person and sought his resignation holding him responsible for the hardships faced by the common man post-demonetisation.”It is Arun Jaitley who is bringing disrepute to the government… It is he who is responsbile for the hardships faced by the common people post-demonetization. The Finance Minister is an inefficient person and is also not an economist. He should resign,” he told reporters here.”Our Prime Minister has taken a decision (of demonetizing high value notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1000) and banks are indulged in converting crores of black money into white.In whose jurisdiction these banks come? These bank come under the ambit of the Finance Ministry,” said Azad, who represents Darbhanga in Lok Sabha.The former cricketer was suspended by party chief Amit Shah on December 23 last year for publicly targeting the Finance Minister for “irregularities” in DDCA, of which Jaitley was the President for 13 years till 2013.He had also criticised Jaitley two months back saying that those “rejected” by the electorate have not only been made ministers but have become “all in all” in the government and the party.Azad attacked the government, saying it would have made sufficient arrangements and preparations to deal with the situation post-demonetisation “had its intentions been clear”.”The government’s policymakers do not have practical knowledge. Their all assessments are based on far from reality,” he alleged.While frequent raids are being conducted across the country to catch people having black money, why such raids were not conducted earlier by the Finance Ministry, Azad wondered.Cashless transaction system, which is being aggressively promoted and popularised by the government, seems to be difficult to succeed in a country like India, Azad said and added that e-payment is not cent per cent safe and secure.Demonetization has its adverse impact on farmers, labourers, workers, small traders, jewellers, he said adding that even vegetable growers are not getting fair price of their produce.”There are people (in the party), who have been rejected by the people in the elections, have not only been made ministers (in the Union government) but have actually become ‘sarve-sarva’ (all in all) both in the government and in the organisation,” Azad had told a press meet at his residence on October 23, 2016 in his Lok Sabha constituency Darbhanga.He was apparently referring to Jaitley who had lost in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls but was made Union minister.

Former Kerala CM Oommen Chandy on solar scam: ‘Charges on role wrong; committed no crime’

Kochi: Holding his ground on the solar panel scam, which had rocked Kerala during the Congress-led UDF rule, former chief minister Oommen Chandy on Friday said that he had not committed any crime. “I have already rejected all the charges. I am fully confident that I have not committed any crime,” he said while deposing before a judicial commission probing charges in the solar panel scam, allegedly linked to his staff.

In his second deposition before the commission, headed by retired High Court judge Justice Sivarajan, the senior Congress leader claimed that all the charges levelled against him were legally proved wrong.

“Many things which had been said targeting me (in the solar scam) have already been proved wrong legally as also in the minds of the public,” he said during the cross-examination.

The commission had directed Chandy to be present for the cross-examination today.

He was cross-examined by the commission in January last in Thiruvananthapuram, when he was the Chief Minister.

Former CM of Kerala Oommen Chandy. AFP

Former CM of Kerala Oommen Chandy. AFP

During his deposition today, Chandy maintained that he had not interfered in the police probe into the case when he was Chief Minister.

Noting that no changes were made in the police team probing the case by the newly formed LDF government, which came to power seven months ago, Chandy said this suggested that police had been carrying out a free and fair probe even during UDF rule.

“The new government has not expressed any doubts about the approach of the probe team (appointed by the then UDF government),” the former Chief Minister said.

“I have not interfered in any stage of the investigation. In this case and other cases also. I have never done so. Free and fair investigation should be carried out in all investigations,” he said.

On being asked whether he had received telephone calls from a lawyer representing main accused (in solar scam) Saritha S Nair during the peak of the controversy, Chandy said he had not attended any of his calls.

The state government had appointed Justice Sivarajan to head the one-man commission on October 23, 2013, to probe the scam pertaining to alleged duping of investors by one Biju Radhakrishnan and his partner Saritha S Nair, who allegedly collected crores of rupees for a solar power project.

The two had allegedly canvassed the business by using top-level names, including that of Chandy.

While Saritha was granted bail after remaining behind bars for about nine months, Radhakrishnan is still in jail in connection with the alleged murder of his wife.

Chandy also rejected allegations by his former gunman Salim Raj that solar scam prime accused Saritha S Nair and the former CM used to talk to each other using his mobile phones.

Deposing before the panel, Salim Raj, a controversial police officer who was part of Chandy’s security, had alleged that a majority of calls from Saritha to his two phones were to talk to the then Chief Minister.

Chandy also rejected Saritha’s allegations that he had taken a bribe from her to set up solar projects, and said he had not taken bribe from anyone in his 50-year-long public life.

During her deposition before the panel, Saritha had alleged that she had paid a bribe of Rs 1.90 crore to Chandy through his personal aides to set up mega power projects in Kerala.

First Published On : Dec 23, 2016 18:51 IST

Homoepathy Council chief Ramjee Singh gets bail in graft case

New Delhi: President of Central Council of Homoeopathy (CCH) Ramjee Singh, arrested on 22 October for allegedly demanding a bribe of Rs 20 lakh for giving clearance to a college in Gujarat, was granted bail on Friday by a special court in New Delhi.

Special Judge Parveen Singh also granted the relief to suspected middleman Harishankar Jha, who was arrested along with Singh by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

The court granted bail to both the accused on a personal bond of Rs two lakh each and one surety of like amount.

court-representational-ibn-380 copy

The probe agency recently filed a charge sheet against the accused for the alleged offences of criminal misconduct by a public servant, receiving illegal certification and criminal conspiracy under the IPC.

The CBI had arrested Singh, who also runs GD Memorial Homeopathy Medical College in Patna, and Jha on 22 October.

According to CBI, Jha was allegedly receiving the bribe amount, which was a part payment for the total amount agreed upon, from a hawala operator in Karol Bagh area.

A CBI official had said that a private university based in Rajkot (Gujarat) had applied for setting up a new Homoeopathy college.

“It was alleged that…the vice president of the said University was in regular contact with both the president of CCH and a private person for getting inspection carried out by such team of inspectors of CCH who would give favourable inspection report,” the agency had said.

Others named in the FIR include RD Patel, assistant director, Homeopathy Department, Gujarat Government; Denish Patel, vice president of RK University, Bhavnagar, which was setting the Homoeopathy college; members of inspection team comprising Jabalpur-based Professor Rahul Shrivastava; Ashok Konar of National Institute of Homeopathy, Kolkata; and Ashwini Arya of JR Kissan Homoeopathy college in Rohtak.

It said RK University wanted to set up the homeopathy college for which mandatory clearance was needed from CCH, a statutory body for regulating education in the field, which accords it after inspection and deliberation among its various committees.

It was alleged that Denish Patel roped in RD Patel to get this done. RD Patel in turn approached Singh through Jha.

Singh allegedly deputed a team — comprising Shrivastava, Konar and Arya — which conducted the inspection in September, the agency had said.

The president of CCH had demanded illegal gratification and the part amount of which Rs 20 lakh was to be delivered in New Delhi and the same was to be collected from a hawala operator, the FIR alleged.

Jha had obtained an alleged bribe of Rs 20 lakh on behalf of the then president of CCH, CBI alleged in the FIR.

“Searches were conducted at Delhi, Rohtak, Gurgaon, Rajkot, Gandhinagar, Jabalpur and Kolkata, including (at) the official and residential premises of accused persons and others which led to recovery of incriminating documents.

“A sum of Rs 21.5 lakh (approx) was also recovered from the residence of a private person in Gurgaon,” the agency had said.

First Published On : Dec 23, 2016 14:16 IST

JNU student Najeeb’s roommate bunks polygraph test with Delhi police

Missing JNU student Ahmed’s roommate, who was supposed to undergo a polygraph test , didn’t turn up for it despite giving his consent. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Missing JNU student Najeeb Ahmed’s roommate, who was supposed to undergo a polygraph test , didn’t turn up for it despite giving his consent, police said. The polygraph test was scheduled today after Mohd Qasim, Najeeb’s roommate gave his consent last week but he didn’t turn up at Forensic Science Laboratory, Rohini, a senior police officer said. Many of the students connected to the probe are out of Delhi because of vacations and have been asked to give their consent for the polygraph test. Police have so far served notices to nine people, including family members of Najeeb as well as the students with whom he was allegedly involved in a brawl at his hostel a night before he vanished.More than 600 Delhi Police personnel assisted by sniffer dogs and mounted police had concluded their search of the sprawling JNU campus on December 20 but could not find any clue. Najeeb has been missing since October 15 after an alleged scuffle at his hostel with ABVP students on the night of October 14. A reward of Rs 10 lakh has been announced by Delhi Police on any information about him.

JNU missing student case: Delhi HC asks police to submit lie-detector test reports by 23 Jan

New Delhi: “Do everything possible to get the missing JNU student”, Delhi High Court on Thursday told the police and directed that Najeeb Ahmed’s roommate and the nine suspects in the case be subjected to lie-detector test.

A bench of Justice GS Sistani and Justice Jayant Nath, however, made it clear to the Delhi Police that they will only subject the suspects to the test after getting their consent.

“Why should anybody, who is related to the case, shy away from helping in the investigation? We do not want to give concession to anyone, whether it is the family members, friends or Najeeb’s roommate. Lie-detector test should take place, as every body will have to work on this case.

Representational image. CNN-News18Representational image. CNN-News18

Representational image. CNN-News18

“The police will conduct the test expeditiously and as soon as possible and file their status report before 23 January next year. We further expect that the police would do everything possible to get the boy and even search the suspects’ native places using sniffer dogs,” the court said.

“We want that something substantial comes out of the effort we all are involved in, before the next date of hearing,” it said.

Najeeb has been missing since 15 October after a scuffle at his hostel allegedly with ABVP students the previous night.

A reward of Rs 10 lakh has been announced by the police on any information about Najeeb, who has remained untraced even after 69 days of the incident.

The court’s direction came after it was informed by senior standing counsel Rahul Mehra that Najeeb’s roommate Mohd Qasim had initially given his consent for the lie-detector test, but did not turn up on Wednesday.

To this, senior advocate Colin Gonsalves, submitted that Qasim will undergo the lie-detector test only after the nine suspects undergo the process.

Gonsalves also submitted that the police have searched the houses of Najeeb’s relatives and distant relatives but did not even bother to look in the rooms of the suspect, who all have left for their homes after the incident.

Mehra opposed the contention and submitted that they would have done so, if it would have been pointed out earlier.

He said the agency had issued notice to those nine and they are on their way to Delhi.

“They have even given their consent to undergo the test.

Once they reach Delhi, their rooms will be searched and even they will be interrogated,” Mehra said.

On this, the court remarked that the investigation should be done uniformly, whether one is a suspect or not.

“Roommate and these nine boys should have been interrogated at the initial stage only. They should have been subjected to lie-detector test,” the bench said and asked the police whether they have called the parents and family members of Najeeb for the test.

“Did you (investigating officer of the case) interrogate Najeeb’s brother and his family members in this regard? You should have done this also. As far as we are concerned, we thought the nine suspects were staying at the hostel in the JNU campus. But if you would have told this to us, we would have definitely asked the police to search their rooms in Delhi as well out of Delhi,” the court said.

It further asked the police to keep an eye on the rooms of those suspect and even take sniffer dogs to their rooms to see if some clue can be picked up from there.

“If they have not done anything, why will they shy away from allowing a search of their hostel rooms or their houses? What is there to hide? They will have to cooperate with the ongoing investigation so that something conclusive comes out.”

The court was hearing a habeus corpus plea by Najeeb’s mother, Fatima Nafees, seeking to trace out her son who has been missing since the intervening night of October 14-15.

Taking note of this, the court on December 14 had asked the police to scan the entire campus, including hostels, classrooms and rooftops, using sniffer dogs.

Following the court direction, Mehra today told the court that they have searched the entire JNU campus for two days, but have not been able to find the boy.

The senior standing counsel further submitted that they will go for lie-detector test of the persons concerned. While deliberating the steps carried out to search the missing student, he informed the court that over 600 police personnel assisted by two squads of sniffer dogs and four squads of mounted police concluded their search of the sprawling JNU campus but could not find any clue.

Mehra further said the exercise was undertaken by 12 ACPs, 30 inspectors and 60 sub inspectors along with hundreds of constables under monitoring of two DCP rank officers to search the 1090 acre campus.

First Published On : Dec 22, 2016 21:41 IST

Rahul’s info on ‘PM’s corruption’ turns out to be old I-T diary notings

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi chose a public rally in Mehsana, Gujarat to reveal the information he had claimed would trigger ‘an earthquake’ in Delhi.Gandhi’s charges of corruption against Prime Minister Narendra Modi have sent the ruling BJP seething. The party has described the allegations as “baseless, irresponsible and shameful” and an attempt to divert attention from the AgustaWestland scam.The information on Prime Minister Modi’s “personal corruption” which Gandhi finally let out after days of suspense related to the account books of Sahara and Birlas seized by the Income Tax Departments. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal told a press conference here that Gandhi had brought out nothing new as he had tabled the Income Tax Department’s appraisal reports of both Sahara and Aditya Birla Groups in the Assembly showing the bribes allegedly paid to Modi in 2013 during his tenure as the Gujarat Chief Minister. The Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader, Derek O’Brien, was also quick to claim credit that it was his party that had first held demonstrations in the Parliament House Complex on December 2, 2014 with the red diary of Sahara, exposing Modi’s corruption.Gandhi, who was originally told by his aides to raise the issue on the floor of the House, so he could not be hauled in any court of law, finally threw the ‘bombshell’ at Modi in his home state of Gujarat. He also challenged the government to set up an independent inquiry while reeling out details of the money paid to Modi during his tenure as the Chief Minister. He accused the government of sitting on the Income Tax Department’s plea for a probe into the documents seized. Gandhi had earlier accused the BJP of preventing him from revealing these details in the Lok Sabha, and claimed that Modi was already “terrified”.The Congress Vice-President referred to a diary seized during a raid on the Sahara company on November 22, 2014 that allegedly showed Rs 40.5 crore being paid in nine instalments from October 30, 2013 to February 22, 2014. He also referred to the records of a Birla company with the Income Tax Department that allegedly show Rs 25 crore meant for the (then) Gujarat CM, Rs 12 crore of which was “given” and a question mark on the balance. The date-wise payments as claimed by Rahul in the Sahara diary were: Rs 3 crore on October 30, 2013, Rs 5 crore on November 12, 2.5 crore on Nov 27, Rs 5 crore on Nov 29, Rs 5 crore on Dec 6, Rs 5 crore on Dec 19, Rs 5 crore on January 13, 2014, Rs 5 crore on Jan 28 and Rs 5 crore on February 22. The Supreme Court last month had refused to order an investigation into the entries made in this diary. “We cannot initiate an investigation just because a big man has been named by someone. He is a high public functionary and we cannot proceed on materials like this. We need better material,” Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar told senior advocate Shanti BhushanThe BJP was quick to accuse Rahul of fighting for his political existence taking recourse to lies, expressing pity that he were suffering from “Modi phobia.” Party spokesman Srikant Sharma said Rahul is a “part time and non-serious politician” belonging to a party that has the habit of levelling baseless charges on PM Modi. Hitting back at Gandhi, Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the allegations reflected the Congress leader’s frustration and were an attempt to divert attention from the AgustaWestland probe in which the names of Congress leaders and the “family” were coming up. He said thePrime Minister was as “pure” as the Ganga. “The allegations levelled against the PrimeMinister are baseless, false, shameful and mala fide and they reflected Rahul Gandhi’s frustration in leading his party to disastrous defeats in state after state,” he said.

India tests ‘Nirbhay’ cruise missile, outcome not known yet

Balasore (Odisha): India on Wednesday conducted the flight test of indigenously-designed and developed long range subsonic cruise missile ‘Nirbhay’ from the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Chandipur in Odisha.

However, there was no official word immediately about the outcome of the test flight.

The sophisticated missile with a strike range of 1,000 km was test launched from a specially-designed launcher around noon from the launch complex-3 of the ITR near here, defence sources said.

Powered by a solid rocket motor booster, ‘Nirbhay’ missile with a turbo-fan engine is guided by a highly advanced inertial navigation system.

The DRDO logo. Image Credit: drdo.gov.in

The DRDO logo. Image Credit: drdo.gov.in

After the missile achieves designated altitude and velocity the booster motor is separated and the torfan engine automatically switches on taking over further propulsion, a Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) scientist associated with this project said.

He said that mid-way in its flight, missile’s wing opens up by the commands generated by the sophisticated on board computer for stabilising the flight path.

The missile was tracked with the help of ground based radars and it’s health parameters were monitored by indigenous telemetry stations by team of professionals from DRDO’s ITR and LRDE (Electronics & Radar Development Establishment).

The maiden test flight of Nirbhay held on 12 March 2013 had to be terminated mid way for safety reasons due to malfunction of a component, sources said.

However, the second launch on 17 October 2014 was successful.

The next trial conducted on 16 October 2015, had to be aborted after 700 seconds of its launch. All these trials were conducted from same defence base.

First Published On : Dec 21, 2016 20:27 IST

Cyrus Mistry’s charges of weak governance mischievous: Tata Sons

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Tata Sons on Wednesday rebutted ousted chairman Cyrus P Mistry’s allegations of weak corporate governance at India’s largest conglomerate, calling it amalgam of half-truths and untruths.Reached for comments on Mistry’s claim in a petition before National Company Law Tribunal that the governance framework at Tata Sons is weak, a Tata Sons spokesperson expressed “surprise” at the assertion.”It is mischievous on the part of any Tata Sons executive to suggest the lack of a strong governance framework at Tata Sons, more so someone who has been associated with the company as a director since 2006. One can only call these allegations as an amalgam of half-truths and untruths,” he said.Stating that a strong governance framework exists at Tata Sons, the spokesperson said: “In line with the Tata Group’s ethos, Tata Sons has always gone over and beyond the requirement of the law on matters of corporate governance. In fact, over the years we have reinforced this formal governance framework.” He added that in 2012-13, the Tata Sons board and Mistry had given their explicit approval to an amended governance framework involving Tata Trusts and Tata Sons.”Mr Mistry willingly participated in this process and his entire family shareholding in Tata Sons voted upon to effect these amendments,” he said. Tata Sons were advised on this by Justice BN Srikrishna and former Attorney General of Maharashtra Darius Khambatta and the spokesperson said Mistry was himself present in several meetings on this matter. “We reiterate Mr Cyrus Mistry and his family holdings in 2013 had fully supported and approved the governance framework that is embodied in the Articles of Association of Tata Sons,” he added.Mistry, who was abruptly removed as chairman of Tata Group’s holding company on October 24, yesterday filed a petition before NCLT seeking replacement of Tata Son’s current board and appointment of a retired Supreme Court judge as non-executive chairman. In a statement yesterday, Tata Sons had reiterated that it has followed the highest standards of corporate governance in its operations and views the petition filed by Mistry’s companies as an unfortunate outcome of the situation arising from his complete disregard of the ethos of the Tata Group and Jamsetji Tata.Despite Mistry’s recent assertions that it is not a personal issue, it is evident that it always has been for him a personal issue which reflects his deep animosity towards Ratan N Tata, said the statement.

Rahul Gandhi claims PM Modi got Rs 40 crore from Sahara in 2013, BJP claims Agusta diversion

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Rahul Gandhi alleged that Narendra Modi as Gujarat Chief Minister had taken money from Sahara and Birla groups and demanded an independent inquiry into it, a charge BJP rejected as an attempt to divert attention from the AgustaWestland probe in which the names of Congress leaders and the “family” were coming up. Addressing a rally here in the prime Minister’s home state, he alleged that in the I-T records there are notings of Sahara officials’ claims that they had paid 9 times to Modi between October, 2013 and February, 2014.Gandhi said the documents in this regard were with IT department which had raided the company when Modi was Gujarat Chief Minister.Similarly, as per documents with Income Tax department, the Birla group also paid Rs 12 crore to Modi when he was Chief Minister.Wondering as to why there has been no probe in the matter so far, Gandhi demanded an independent inquiry. Last week, Gandhi claimed that he had evidence of “personal corruption” of Prime Minister but he was being prevented from speaking in the Lok Sabha because it would cause an earthquake.Reacting to Gandhi’s allegations, Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said in New Delhi that the charges are “baseless, false, shameful and mala fide” and an attempt to divert attention from the AgustaWestland probe as names of Congress leaders and the “family” are coming up.Party spokesperson G V L Narasimha Rao said Gandhi was immature and was just indulging in bluff and bluster because people are not taking him seriously.”People of India have stopped taking him seriously. Rahul Gandhi is just bluff and bluster. There is no substance in what he says. He is just showing his and his party’s incompetence,” he said.Gandhi said he was raising the issue on behalf of the country which needs answers over the questions raised against the Prime Minister.”PM Modi takes bribes and then shamelessly foists Demonetisation on Indians under the garb of ‘fighting Black Money,” Congress tweeted after the rally quoting its Vice-President Rahul Gandhi.”Rahulji asks if Modiji received this money from Sahara or not? If this document is with Income Tax, will Modi now investigate it?,” tweeted party chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala. He was quoted saying by ANI that according to these records, Rs 2.5 crore was given to PM Modi on 30 October 2013, Rs 5 crore on 12 November 2013, Rs 2.5 crore on 27 Nov 2013, and Rs 5 crore on 29 November 2013. Entries showed Rs 5cr given to PM Modi on 6 Dec ’13; Rs 5cr on 19 Dec ’13; Rs 5cr on 13 Jan ’14;Rs 5cr on 28 Jan ’14;Rs 5cr 22 Feb ’14.” NGO Common Cause had filed a PIL on the issue in the Supreme Court and a bench headed by CJI-designate Justice J S Khehar last week had refused to take up the matter saying there was no evidence but only allegations against the Prime Minister. The bench then asked lawyer Prashant Bhushan to provide evidence before it could decide on whether it could admit the petition.Gandhi alleged that the I-T records show Sahara officials’ claims of having paid Rs 40 crore to Modi on various dates between October, 2013 and February, 2014.”You (Modi) did not allow me to speak in Parliament. I did not know why you did not wanted to face me in the House. I tell you the reason. Any business entity keeps record of its transactions. On November 2014, Income Tax department conducted raids on Sahara, a very large corporate house,” he said.”During that raid, I-T department found some documents, which are on record. I want to share with you the contents of those documents. There were several entries in those documents, which I am reading out before you,” he said.He then alleged that another record suggests that Birla Group gave Rs 12 crore to ‘Gujarat Chief Minister’.”This record is with I-T department since last 2.5 years.I-T even recommended to conduct an inquiry in this issue. I want to ask you why no such inquiry was done? We want to know whether it is true that money was given to you nine times by Sahara?” Rahul asked.”You doubted the honesty of citizens, their hard-earned income, and made them stand in the queues. Now, on behalf of citizens, I am asking you whether the information is true or not. And if it is true, then when you will set up an inquiry,” said Gandhi. With inputs from PTI

Indrani Mukerjea breaks down after learning about father’s death

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Indrani Mukerjea, prime accused in the Sheena Bora murder case, broke down on Monday outside the court here after learning about her father Upendra Kumar Bora’s death on December 15.Indrani, her husband and former media baron Peter Mukerjea and her former husband Sanjeev Khanna were produced in the court today for arguments on framing of charges. After the special prosecutors Bharat Badami and Kavita Patil finished the arguments, CBI’s investigating officer informed Indrani about her father’s demise in Assam. Indrani, through her lawyer, told the special judge H S Mahajan that CBI had been insensitive. She was informed only today when her father had died on Thursday, she told the court.”It’s very insensitive,” her lawyer said, adding that neither the CBI nor the jail officials informed her, and action should be taken against them for this lapse. The judge said he would warn the CBI officer at the hearing tomorrow. While coming out of the court, Indrani broke down. She was heard saying to the investigating officer, “You didn’t do the right thing. You should have told me earlier. You hadn’t told me about my mother’s death too (back in October 2015).” Indrani, her driver Shyam Rai (who has now turned approver in the case) and Khanna are accused of killing her daughter Sheena inside a car here in April 2012.Peter Mukerjea is accused of being a party to the conspiracy.

Was detained at airport in violation of court order, says meat exporter Moin Qureshi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Controversial meat exporter Moin Qureshi on Monday told Delhi High Court that he was detained at the airport on his return to India and “whisked away” by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in violation of a judicial order staying the lookout circular against him.Qureshi made the submission in an application filed before Justice A K Pathak, who issued notice to the Ministries of Home Affairs and Finance, ED and Foreigner Regional Registration Office (FRRO) seeking their replies to his plea in which he has claimed that no money laundering case is made out against him.The court asked the authorities to file their replies before the next date of hearing on January 6 next year.
ALSO READ ED grills Moin Qureshi for over seven hoursIn his application, Qureshi said the court had on October 26 this year stayed the lookout circular (LC) against him till November 22, despite which he was detained and his passport impounded by ED when he arrived in India on November 21. He said he was to appear before ED only the next day.He contended that since the authorities have not replied to his main petition seeking quashing of the Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR) lodged against him by ED, their right to file a reply should be closed.Qureshi has claimed that the respondents were avoiding filing their reply to the writ petition as they were aware that no case under Prevention of Money Laundering Act is made out against him. He has also sought directions to ED to supply him with a copy of the ECIR, saying it is mandatory under the law and would also help him understand the allegations against him.The Delhi-based meat exporter contended that since he arrived in the country, he has been appearing before ED on each date that he has been summoned except on two occasions.The court on October 26 had told Qureshi “not to behave like Vijay Mallya” and directed him to return to India by mid -November. It had said it was not going to restrain the ED from taking any “coercive steps” against Qureshi, who had managed to go abroad despite a LC issued against him.On October 15, when Qureshi was stopped at IGI Airport on following issuance of the LC, he had shown a trial court order obtained in an income tax case in which he was granted bail and had left for Dubai.ED had registered a case under the PMLA last year against Qureshi, who has been under scanner of probe agencies for alleged tax evasion and hawala-like dealings. In his petition, he had stated that ED had conducted search at his premises under FEMA and probing allegations in which he and others were called for questioning on various occasions and they had appeared.

Coast Guard apprehends 26 Pakistani fishermen on five boats off Gujarat coast

Mon, 19 Dec 2016-10:52pm , Ahmedabad , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Coast Guard on Monday apprehended 26 Pakistani fishermen and seized their five fishing boats off Gujarat coast near Kutch as they crossed the Indian territorial waters.These Pakistani fishermen on five boats were held when they were inside Indian territory, said a release by Defence PRO.”The ICG vessel C-419 apprehended five Pakistani fishing boats with 26 crew members on board in Indian waters. These boats and the crew are being escorted to Jakhau port for further investigation,” it added.This is the second such apprehension in recent times by the Coast Guard off the Gujarat coast.Earlier in October this year, ICG ship ‘Samudra Pavak’ seized a Pakistani boat and apprehended 9 crew members onboard, off Gujarat coast during patrolling.

Cyrus Mistry resigns from Tata boards

Cyrus Mistry resigns from the boards of all Tata Group companies, in the latest twist in a bitter management feud.

Just ditched: After marrying and duping 11 men, Kochi woman’s luck runs out

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A team of Kerala Police along with their Noida counterparts has arrested a woman and her two accomplices for duping over 10 men of several lakhs of rupees and jewellery after marrying them, in Noida sector 120.Loren Justin, a resident of Kochi, had registered a case in October against his wife Megha Bhargav, who, he alleged, had disappeared with jewellery worth Rs 15 lakh sometime after their marriage. Kerala Police during investigation found that Justin was the fourth man duped by Bhargav in the state. She had married fourmen in Kerala and duped them all, police said on Sunday.In total she had married 11 men in Kerala, Mumbai, Pune, Rajasthan and Indore, they said. Bhargav used to target divorcees and men with physical disabilities, they said, adding some days after the marriage she used to give food laced with sedatives to her husband and his family members and then eloped with cash and jewellery.Dinesh Yadav, SP (City), said, “Woman was traced to a house in Amrapali Zodiac Society in sector 120 here through electronic surveillance after which she was arrested last evening.” Her two accomplices were also arrested with her, police said.

Karunanidhi to be in hospital for ‘some more days’, DMK general council meeting postponed

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> DMK on Saturday deferred its December 20 general council meeting where party treasurer M K Stalin was expected to be elevated as working president.Stalin’s elevation is on the cards as both party chief M Karunanidhi and veteran leader K Anbazhagan, who is also the party General Secretary, have not been keeping well lately. The general council meeting was postponed in view of the hospitalisation of Karunanidhi, Anbazhagan said. In a release, he said a new date for the general council meeting will be announced later. Another DMK headquarters release said Karunanidhi will be in the hospital for “some more days” to undergo treatment. The party asked party cadres and friends to avoid visiting him and “cooperate”. The party had made a similar appeal when Karunanidhi was admitted to the hospital for drug-induced allergy in October.The party also quoted Kauvery Hospital’s health bulletin yesterday which said Karunanidhi was stable having undergone the tracheostomy procedure. Although generally active, 92-year-old Karunanidhi was not keeping well in the recent past and he did not campaign in the November bypolls in Tamil Nadu though he hit the campaign trail for the May 2016 Assembly election. In the run up to the Assembly polls this year, the nonagenarian leader had said that he would be the chief minister if his party won the May 16 assembly election and his son M K Stalin has to wait “till nature does something to me”.In October, he however gave ample indication that Stalin was on his way to become the party chief. “From his prison days (during emergency, 1975-77) where he faced a lot of hardships, he has worked very hard and elevated himself systematically to the position of future president of DMK,” he had said. Also, Stalin’s supporters, for the past few years, have been impressing upon the party leadership to pass on the baton to their leader. Stalin is the leader of opposition in the Assembly and party Treasurer.

AgustaWestland scam: Italy’s highest court suspends Finmeccanica ex-boss’s corruption sentence

Rome: Italy’s highest court has suspended a sentence handed earlier this year to the former boss of aerospace and defence group Finmeccanica, Giuseppe Orsi, for false accounting and corruption in connection with the sale of 12 luxury helicopters to India, Italian media reported.


India cancelled the deal with AgustaWestland in January 2014 amid allegations that the company paid bribes to win the € 556-million ($753 million) contract. Reuters

The Friday decision came after both the defence and the prosecution had requested a suspension, on grounds that the Milan appeals court’s sentence in April differed too greatly from an earlier ruling. In April, Orsi was sentenced to four-a-half-years years in jail for false accounting and corruption. Also handed a four-year jail term on the same charges was Bruno Spagnolini, former head of AgustaWestland, a subsidiary of Finmeccanica.

The pair had been sentenced to two years in prison in October 2014 for false accounting. The court of cassation has referred the case back to the appeals tribunal. Italian media believe that the case will be closed when the statute of limitation expires in March 2017.

The case against Orsi and Spagnolini resulted from an investigation launched in 2012 into the sale of 12 luxury helicopters to the Indian government. Orsi was arrested in 2014 and resigned as chief executive of the aerospace group a short while later.

India cancelled the deal with AgustaWestland in January 2014 amid allegations that the company paid bribes to win the € 556-million ($753 million) contract. The aborted deal was a severe setback for Finmeccanica, having already been hammered by the global financial crisis.

First Published On : Dec 17, 2016 09:50 IST

With China’s ‘technical hold’ about to expire, India hopeful of Masood Azhar being designated global terrorist

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Ahead of expiry of the Chinese “hold” against designating Pakistan-based JeM chief Masood Azhar a global terrorist by the UN, India said on Thursday that the “ball is in the court” of Sanctions Committee and expressed hope that it will eventually see the “logic”.External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup also said that India’s application seeking sanctions against Azhar was submitted in March and was before the UN’s Sanctions Committee which has 15 members, who are also in security council. “Ball is in their (Committee’s) court. We remain hopeful that eventually logic of Masood Azhar (not) remaining outside the ambit of the committee when the organisation which he represents has been proscribed for many years would be seen,” he said.China had in October extended its “technical hold” on India’s move to get Azhar banned by the UN. The current extension will expire on December 31 and if China does not raise further objection, the resolution designating Azhar a terrorist could stand passed automatically.Swarup also said the recent visit of Foreign Secretary Jaishankar to the US was only in the context of raising UN-related issues with the Secretary General-designate Antonio Guterres and he did not interact with any member of the Trump Administration. In the past he has had some interactions with a few senior members of the Administration, he added.On increasing cooperation between Pakistan and Russia, Swarup said, “We do not comment on relationship between third countries. Our own relationship with Russia is a special and privileged partnership which has been reinforced by the recent visit of President Putin to Goa in October 2016. We do not see any downward trend in our bilateral relationship. “However, in so far as the Taliban is concerned, they have to respect the internationally agreed red lines, give up terrorism and violence, sever all ties with al Qaeda, agree to follow democratic norms and not do anything which will erode the gains of the last 15 years. Ultimately it is for the Government of Afghanistan to decide whom to talk to and how.” On the situation in Syria, the Spokesperson said India will welcome any reduction in violence and cessation of hostilities. He also stressed on an inclusive Syrian-led political dialogue, saying there can be no military solution to the conflict.”Protection of civilians should be priority number one. We have always stood for Syria’s territorial integrity. At the same time, selective approaches to dealing with terrorist groups have had negative effect as has been proved around the world,” Swarup said.When asked about the appointment of Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson as the new US Secretary of state, Swarup said,”We have seen the reports about his appointment by US President- elect Donald Trump. We will continue to closely follow the developments leading towards firming up of his team.”

Deutsche Bank’s staff pay stays high, come rain or shine | Reuters

By John O’Donnell

FRANKFURT Deutsche Bank has continued to pay staff roughly the same amount as it did a decade ago, despite the financial crisis and a collapse in profits, according to a Reuters analysis of its financial reports.Germany’s biggest bank paid its staff more than 13 billion euros ($13.6 billion) in total last year, including benefits and bonuses, despite making a loss of almost 6.8 billion euros. That level of pay was about the same as in 2007, when it made a profit of around 6.5 billion euros.This year, staff received more than 9 billion euros in the nine months to September, while profit in that time was about 500 million euros, according to its reports.The payouts show how Deutsche Bank, which recently had to deny speculation that it would be rescued by Germany as it faces a heavy U.S. penalty for selling toxic mortgage securities, rewards staff at a steady level despite sliding profits.Deutsche Bank declined to comment on the pay figures.By comparison Swiss rival UBS reduced its staff costs by almost 1 billion Swiss francs to just under 16 billion francs ($15.55 billion) in 2015, compared with 2010. It made a net profit of more than 7.5 billion Swiss francs in 2010 and more than 6 billion Swiss francs last year.

Britain’s Royal Bank of Scotland, as it retrenched in investment banking, and Barclays, which did not, also reduced staff costs over this time.Stubbornly high costs at Deutsche Bank have frustrated shareholders, and the staff expenses over almost a decade illustrate the scale of the challenge facing its Chief Executive John Cryan to turn the group around.

High pay has also grated with many ordinary Germans, who often criticise the bank for its aggressive pursuit of success on Wall Street, while losing touch with its roots in Frankfurt.”The bank has consistently paid bonuses and high salaries to reward success – success that has not materialised,” said Dieter Hein, an analyst from Fairesearch in Frankfurt. “As profits collapsed, pay has even increased. This is absurd.” In 2007, Deutsche Bank paid employees a total of just over 13 billion euros. While the figure dipped the following year, it rebounded in 2010 to 12 billion euros and rose higher still – as profits shrank. Its downward profit spiral reached a nadir in 2015, when it made the loss of more than 6.7 billion euros.

But overall staff costs are likely to come down at Deutsche, as Cryan reassesses a year-old strategy to revive the flagging group, which has seen sharp falls in its stock price and even some customers withdrawing funds.The bank said in October last year that it planned to cut 9,000 staff. Executives are also examining a further 10,000 job cuts, a source recently told Reuters.On pay, the bank has introduced new rules to tie bonuses to overall group performance, although salaries, which have risen across the industry, are not affected by that change. ($1 = 0.9585 euros; $1 = 1.0288 Swiss francs) (Reporting By John O’Donnell; Editing by Pravin Char)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

First Published On : Dec 15, 2016 21:55 IST

Chhagan Bhujbal case: PMLA court to pass order on Anjali Damania’s plea

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A special Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court will pass the order on December 21 on complaint of activist Anjali Damania’s plea in Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Chhagan Bhujbal’s hospital transfer matter.A special court on Wednesday directed Bhujbal to be transferred from the state-run JJ Hospital to Arthur Road jail immediately. Bhujbal was shifted from the jail on October 28 for two medical tests at JJ Hospital and one at Bombay Hospital. Damania had in her plea claimed that Bhujbal continued to remain at the private hospital for almost a month despite completion of the tests. The plea alleged negligence of duty by the jail and hospital authorities.Bhujbal was arrested on March 14 by the Enforcement Directorate in connection with the Maharashtra Sadan scam and Kalina land case in which he and his relatives were alleged to have received kickbacks.

No proposal to reduce Indian mission strength in Islamabad: Government

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> There is no proposal to reduce the strength of Indian High Commission in Islamabad, the government said on Wednesday. Eight Indian officials have come back in the last two months after Pakistan levelled “baseless allegations” against them and endangered their safety and security by making their identity public. The “baseless allegation by Pakistan against these officials followed Pakistan’s decision to withdraw six Pakistani diplomats reportedly named by Mehmood Akhtar, who was apprehended by Indian law enforcement authorities on October 27, 2016 while indulging in anti-India activities,” Minister of State for External Affairs V K Singh said in a written reply in Lok Sabha. “The positions falling vacant in the Indian High Commission, Islamabad consequent to the return of the aforementioned eight officials to India are to be filled through normal administrative process. There is no proposal with the government to reduce the strength of the High Commission,” Singh said.Singh also said while change in the leadership of Pakistan’s State institutions, including its army is an internal matter, there has been a sustained escalation this year of cross-border terrorism and infiltration of armed terrorists across IB and LoC tasked to carry out terror acts in Jammu and Kashmir and elsewhere in India. He was asked whether heightened diplomatic and border tension between the two countries is a creation by ISI to dictate its terms in the matter of succession to its current chief.The minister further said the government has reminded Pakistan through military and diplomatic channels about its responsibility to stop all terrorism directed against India, emanating from territories under Pakistan’s control.

TCS EGM: Cyrus Mistry claims moral victory even as shareholders vote to oust him

Tata Consultancy Services Ltd (TCS) shareholders voted to remove Cyrus Mistry, the ousted chairman of Tata Sons, as a director, according to the results of an extraordinary general meeting on Tuesday.

About 93 percent of TCS shareholders, who cast their vote, were in favour of removing Mistry, TCS said in a regulatory filing.

Cyrus Mistry. ReutersCyrus Mistry. Reuters

Cyrus Mistry. Reuters

His ouster comes as no surprise given Tata Sons majority stake in the company, about 73 percent as of September end, according to Thomson Reuters data.

TCS, India’s biggest technology services firm by sales, contributes the bulk of the group’s revenue and profit.

About 43 percent of TCS’s institutional holders who voted were against the removal of Mistry, according to the filing. Interestingly, 78 percent of voting shareholders who were not promoters or institutional holders were against Mistry’s ouster.

The divisions within the minority shareholders on the contentious issue were out in the open with a few minority shareholders voicing support for Mistry. As many as 38 shareholders spoke at the 150-minute long EGM. Even though a bulk of them voiced support for Tata, those handful who affirmed their support to Mistry were applauded.

Mistry’s office, meanwhile, issued a statement late in the night, claiming moral victory.

“Almost 20 percent of shareholders of TCS that accounts for more than 70 percent of non promoter shareholders supported Cyrus by voting against the resolution or abstained (expressing their disapproval of the promoter actions),” said the statement.

In a bitter boardroom coup in October, Mistry was ousted as the chairman of Tata Sons, the holding firm for the $100 billion steel-to-software conglomerate, and group patriarch Ratan Tata returned to the helm temporarily.

A public power struggle has since ensued between the two sides. Mistry, however, still sits on the boards of several group companies. Tata Sons has called shareholder meetings at these companies over the next few days to vote on his removal.

Indian Hotels Co Ltd, Tata Steel and Tata Motors will hold their shareholder meetings next week.

“The fight is a matter of principle rather than facing the foregone outcome (of this meeting),” Mistry said ahead of the TCS shareholder meet in an indication that he had expected to be ousted given Tata Sons’ majority shareholding in TCS.

“The very future of TCS hinges on good governance and ethical practices. In the past several weeks, we have seen good governance being thrown to the wind in every sense of the term, replaced by whims, fancies and personal agenda,” he said.

Since his ouster from Tata Sons, Mistry has attacked the group’s corporate governance standards several times, saying that his efforts to establish stronger guidelines contributed to his removal.

“Whatever be the decibel level of the voice that would drown your vote, I call on you to vote with your conscience and send a signal that catalyses a larger discussion on governance reforms,” Mistry said.

Independent director Aman Mehta, who officiated the meeting after interim chairman Ishaat Hussain recused himself, said Mistry had lost “the trust and confidence” of the promoter group (Tata Sons and Tata Trusts) which had nominated him and it was in best interest of TCS that he leave now.

Asserting that the core issue goes far beyond the “performance or competence”, Mehta said, “It seems to me that the real issue here is one of trust and confidence of the promoter group in its nominated chairman.”

“Independent directors of TCS have met separately and have reviewed the whole issue in some details. It is clear to all of us that the current issue can have some materially negative effect on the functioning of the company,” he said.

With Reuters and PTI

First Published On : Dec 14, 2016 07:45 IST

Oil demand to grow more swiftly, too early to assess global output cut | Reuters

By Amanda Cooper

LONDON Global oil demand will rise more strongly than expected next year, although it is too soon to assess fully the impact of a joint cut in supply by the world’s largest producers, the International Energy Agency said on Tuesday.In its monthly oil market report, the IEA said revisions to its estimate of Chinese and Russian consumption had prompted it to raise its forecast for global oil demand growth this year by 120,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 1.4 million bpd, and to lift its forecast for 2017 by 110,000 bpd to 1.3 million bpd.The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries agreed on Nov. 30 to cut output by 1.2 million bpd to 32.5 million bpd for the first six months of 2017, together with another 558,000 bpd in cuts from the likes of Russia, Oman and Mexico.The IEA said the market could show a shortfall of 600,000 bpd early next year if all parties complied with the agreement”If OPEC and its non-OPEC partners stick to their pledges, global inventories could start to draw in the first half of 2017,” the IEA said, adding that this was not its own forecast, but was based on the agreement. “The deal is for six months and we should allow time for it to be implemented before re-assessing our market outlook. Success means the reinforcement of prices and revenue stability for producers after two difficult years; failure risks starting a fourth year of stock builds and a possible return to lower prices,” the Paris-based organisation said.

The IEA raised its estimate of Chinese consumption by 135,000 bpd to 11.9 million bpd for 2016, thanks to sharp rises in imports of mixed aromatics in the first half of this year and better coverage of the independent, or “teapot” refineries.The IEA said it had more than halved its forecast for non-OPEC supply growth for next year to 220,000 bpd, marking a cut of 255,000 bpd, following the agreement of Russia and 10 other non-OPEC producers to join OPEC’s effort to reduce output and speed up the rebalancing of the market.The agency said global oil supply rose to a record 98.2 million bpd in November, as OPEC production offset declines elsewhere.Non-OPEC oil production fell by 160,000 bpd in November to 57.1 million bpd, while OPEC crude output rose by 300,000 bpd to a new record high of 34.2 million bpd, the IEA said.

In its last monthly report in November, the IEA warned that without any sort of cut, 2017 could witness another year of “relentless supply growth” from non-OPEC producers.Crude inventories across the world’s richest nations fell for a third month in a row in October, marking their longest stretch of declines since 2011, and falling by 74.5 million barrels from July’s record 3.102 billion barrels, the IEA said.”Total OECD stocks of crude and refined products fell (28 million barrels) on downwardly revised (by 13 million barrels) Sept. 16 levels,” energy consultant Tudor Pickering Holt said in a research note, referring to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, which groups developed countries.

“Over the past three months (July through October), total stocks fell (72 million barrels) versus (the) normal (2 million barrels). According to this arithmetic, the oil market has already rebalanced . . . before OPEC cuts effective Jan. 1.”IEA chief Fatih Birol told a conference in Prague that higher oil prices would weaken global demand.”If the price goes up to around $60, we will see investments from the U.S. and elsewhere and we will see a lot of oil coming from the U.S. and other regions,” he said. “Global oil demand growth, with high prices, will be weaker.” (Reporting by Amanda Cooper; Editing by Louise Heavens)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

First Published On : Dec 13, 2016 21:12 IST

Preserve CCTV footages to spot currency hoarders: RBI to banks

Mumbai: RBI has asked banks to preserve CCTV recordings of operations at bank branches and currency chests to help law enforcement agencies in identifying people engaged in hoarding of new notes post demonetisation.

The Reserve Bank, in a notification issued today, said banks should “preserve CCTV recordings of operations at bank branches and currency chests for the period from 8 November to 30 December, 2016, until further instructions”.

The central bank said the move will “facilitate coordinated and effective action by the enforcement agencies in dealing with matters relating to illegal accumulation of new currency notes”.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

Earlier in October, the RBI had asked banks to cover the banking hall/area and counters under CCTV surveillance and recording and preserve the recording to help identify people abetting circulation of counterfeit notes.

After demonetisation, there have been reports of hoarding of new currency notes by unscrupulous elements at various bank branches across the country.

The Income-Tax Department is carrying out raids across the country on a regular basis since demonetisation to nab new currency hoarders and several people, both individuals as well as bank officials, have been booked so far for carrying out such illegal activities.

The government has said abolishment of these high denomination banknotes is intended to bring back unaccounted money into the system, curb fake currency circulation as well as to deter terror financing.

First Published On : Dec 13, 2016 17:38 IST

Ratan Tata-Cyrus Mistry battle: Why TCS shareholders vote today is crucial

Mumbai – Shareholders of the Tata group’s crown jewel TCS will today vote on a resolution to remove Cyrus Mistry as the company’s director — a crucial test for both Ratan Tata and the ousted Tata Sons chairman in their ongoing board room war.

The result would influence the fate of Mistry, who was on Monday removed as director and Chairman of Tata Industries following shareholders’ vote, first such instance of the embattled executive being ousted from the board since his removal as Tata Group chairman in October.

Ratan Tata (left) and Cyrus Mistry. AFPRatan Tata (left) and Cyrus Mistry. AFP

Ratan Tata (left) and Cyrus Mistry. AFP

On 17 November, TCS board decided to call Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) “pursuant to the Special Notice & Requisition dated November 9, 2016 sent by Tata Sons, shareholder of the company holding 73.26 per cent of the paid-up equity share capital of the company”.

Tuesday’s voting by TCS shareholders will be the first of six such EGMs called by major listed firms — Indian Hotels Co Ltd (December 20), Tata Steel (December 21), Tata Motors (December 22), Tata Chemicals (December 23) and Tata Power (December 26) — to seek Mistry’s ouster as director.

In case of Tata Motors, Tata Steel and Tata Chemicals, the shareholders will also be voting for a resolution moved by Tata Sons to remove Nusli Wadia as independent director.

While institutional investors are gearing up for the big showdown in the Tata boardrooms, advisory firms and governance experts are taking considered views on emerging scenario.

JN Gupta, founder of SES, a proxy advisory firm, has told The Economic Times that a divided board is not strong and certainly a threat to shareholders’ interest. “Are the board members ensuring justice for an individual or protecting the interest of stakeholders?” he has been quoted as saying in a report.

To be sure, a quick resolution to the issue is in the interest of the shareholders.

Tata Sons seeks to pass a shareholder resolution for removal of Mistry as director after removing him as Chairman on 10 November, replacing him with Ishaat Hussain.

It had made use of one of the statutes that makes it possible to nominate the chairman of the board, while replacing Mistry with group veteran Hussain.

The Mistry camp had lashed out at his removal as Chairman of TCS calling it as a reflection of “cloak and dagger” machinations that define “the angry strategy of the Ratan Tata camp”.

He had even alleged that Tata once tried to sell the IT firm to IBM and his “ego” led to bad business decisions like Corus acquisition at double the original cost. However, he changed his stance later stating his statement was based on “information from sources who were close to JRD Tata who informed him that it was Ratan Tata’s intention, and not the group’s intention, to sell TCS”.

Tata Sons has been stepping up the pressure on Mistry ever since he was sacked as Chairman of the company on October 24. It had made several allegations against Mistry, including betraying trust and trying to gain control of major operating firms, concentrating powers and using free-hand given to him to weaken management structures of the Tata Group.

Last week, in a letter to shareholders of the companies, Tata stated that the continued presence of Mistry in their respective boards was a serious “disruptive influence” and could make the companies “dysfunctional”.

Market observers said the voting pattern of the non-promoter group will give an indication of the level of support Mistry enjoys from shareholders in general, which in turn could set the tone for other such EGMs that are to follow.

Mistry has vehemently denied all the allegations and stated that he was pushed to the position of a “lame duck chairman” and changes in the decision making process created “alternate power centres” in Tata Group.

In a dig at Tata, he also alleged that individuals prone to “impulsive control” have exposed the Tata Group to perilous violation of regulatory requirements and his fight was to protect the conglomerate from “capricious” decision-making by Interim Chairman Ratan Tata.

With PTI

First Published On : Dec 13, 2016 08:04 IST

SIMI jailbreak: CISF submits report, to audit three more prisons in Madhya Pradesh

New Delhi: A security audit report by the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) on Bhopal Central Jail, from where eight SIMI operatives pulled off a daring jailbreak, has been submitted to the Madhya Pradesh government with suggestions to bolster manpower and technical surveillance at the high-security facility.

An exhaustive report has been prepared by the CISF experts for the jail in the state capital recommending “augmentation of human resource, and infusion of latest gadgetry and technology was suggested for making the jail security foolproof”, a senior official said.

Police investigate the encounter site in Bhopal. File photo. PTI

Police investigate the encounter site in Bhopal. File photo. PTI

The proposed security features include enhancing perimeter security, deployment of more CCTV cameras and strict monitoring of entry and exit in the prison premises.

The eight SIMI undertrials had escaped from the high security central jail on the intervening night of 30-31 October after killing a guard, before they were gunned down in an alleged encounter by police on the outskirts of the city on 31 October morning.

The state government, the force said, has further asked the central paramilitary to similarly conduct a security and fire safety audit report of three other jails in the state in Indore, Jabalpur and Gwalior.

“Appreciating the consultancy services rendered by our experts to the Bhopal jail, the state government has now requested us to further provide the same expertise to three other jails located in Madhya Pradesh. Our teams will soon conduct the audit of these jails too,” CISF director general OP Singh said.

The force has a special consultancy wing within its establishment that conducts audit of critical installations and establishments, in government and public domain, by way of suggesting them the required access-control, deployment of watch towers and sentry posts, usage of gadgets and positioning of security personnel and surveillance gadgets to enhance protection.

The force does this job on a government-approved fee and has provided consultancy to a total of 134 organisations till now.

Some of the important clients of CISF security consultancy services are TISCO Limited, Bangalore Metro, the National Security Guard (NSG) headquarters here, Allahabad High Court, Tirumala Tirupati and Devsthanam in Tirupati, British High Commission in the national capital and assemblies of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.

First Published On : Dec 12, 2016 22:03 IST

JNU missing student case: Najeeb Ahmad’s disappearance raises questions on Delhi police’s ability

‘Missing’ is writ large at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) campus. A 27-year-old student Najeeb Ahmad has been missing for almost two months now, after an alleged scuffle with some other students. Mother, sister, friends and fellow students of Najeeb have been protesting at the JNU campus, at Jantar Mantar, Mandi House and anywhere they can.

In last two months, a number of posters of Najeeb has increased inside JNU campus and around Delhi and so has the reward to find him.

As the days passed, following Najeeb’s disappearance, a spree of allegations and counter-allegations was made by the Left and the Right in JNU campus against each other, following which, the police swung into action. Police teams were dispatched to Bihar and other places and news of Najeeb being spotted in Aligarh surfaced.

But among all this what was most intriguing was the manner in which Najeeb disappeared, like smoke.

Representational image. CNN News 18Representational image. CNN News 18

Representational image. CNN News 18

Now a press release by JNU administration (issued on 8 December) has tried to put the record straight in the case: Of the alleged scuffle between the two groups in Mahi‐Mandovi hostel on 14 October after which Najeeb disappeared without informing anyone. Just two days to go and it will be a full two months since he disappeared.

The 8 December press release issued by the JNU administration is conclusive in its judgement about the incident. In an attempt to put the record straight, the JNU administration has shunned the logic. It reads, “The Office of the Chief Proctor has submitted its Proctorial Enquiry Report on the incident of Mahi‐Mandovi Hostel. The report has identified the students involved in the reported scuffle, and has recommended their immediate transfer from their present hostel. It has also recommended that a strong warning should be issued to these students against repeating such scuffle in future.”

It adds, “The Vice‐chancellor has approved the report and has suggested that after Najeeb Ahmed is found, the disciplinary action awarded by the Warden’s Committee for vacating hostel premises by Mr. Ahmed may be revisited.”

And it concludes, “The JNU Administration appeals to Mr. Najeeb Ahmed, M.Sc. student of Biotechnology, to return to university and resume academic pursuits without apprehensions.”

The Delhi High Court on 28 November, while listening the plea on Najeeb’s disappearance asked the Delhi police to “cut across all political barriers” to find Najeeb and said that there could be “something more” to his disappearance as no one can just vanish from the heart of the national capital.

The court further stated, “This is the heart of India, the national capital. No one can just disappear from here. It creates a sense of insecurity in people. If he disappeared, then there is something more to that. All angles have to be explored. Forty five days is a long period for someone to be underground.”

While the court’s observation was reflective of genuine concern, the straightness of the press statement issued by JNU administration on 8 December has twisted all the logic.

Consider this: In plain term, it states that those allegedly involved in the scuffle have been identified. And like the intimidating bullies we all face in schools, they were punished by changing their seats (read hostel).

Also, the JNU administration through its appeal to Najeeb to come back has decided and made it clear that he has gone missing on his own and steers clear of any foul play.

In this absurd play where a man disappears without any trace, there are many questions that remain unanswered.

A press note titled Summary & update of the Events ‐Mahi‐Mandovi Hostel issued by JNU, states that according to the warden’s report, the incident took place during the election campaign for members of the hostel committee. A student, Vikrant Kumar, went to canvass and when he knocked at the door of Najeeb Ahmed was slapped without any provocation in the presence of in presence of two other students. The warden has relied on the version of two people who accompanied Vikrant for canvassing. The warden’s report does not mention the testimony of any neutral eyewitness.

The second big question is that how JNU’s proctorial inquiry has assumed that Najeeb has been hiding or gone missing on his own, hence making an appeal to him to return.

The third big question that raises a major concern is that how can a student be in hiding for so long. How come the entire police administration (receiving direct direction from the home minister of the country) is unable to trace a 27-year-old student?

There is rising concern for Najeeb, that is now cutting across party and ideological lines. ABVP member Saurabh Sharma and former Joint Secretary of JNUSU too calls for looking “beyond narrow interests and making all efforts should be made towards finding Najeeb”.

“Almost two months have passed since a bizarre incident of slapping followed by Najeeb’s disappearance took place in JNU. SIT and then Crime Branch of Delhi Police have tried hard to find out Najeeb’s whereabouts, but all in vain. Given the situation that a student has disappeared right from the heart of the capital, questions must be raised about the efficacy of Delhi Police. A police force that has successfully busted organised crimes of international order in the past seems too helpless in this case. Is it really that tough to trace a student or is it a deliberate attempt on the part of Delhi Police to take it too lightly? The nature of politicking that has occurred in the periphery of the event also speaks volumes regarding the special nature of Najeeb’s disappearance,” says Sharma.

He adds, “Having said that, one must not forget that all that matters is a human life, the complexity of which is hard to fathom. Medical reports suggest that Najeeb was under depression and was receiving proper treatment. Thus, there is all possibility that he might have escaped for psychological reasons. If it’s so, still the police should have found him out by now. Hence, one must focus on the fact that between politics and concerns of individual life, Najeeb’s life and career is at stake. Let’s look beyond our narrow interests and channelise all efforts toward finding out Najeeb.”

As rightly pointed out by Sharma the inability of the Delhi police in tracing Najeeb raises serious questions on its ability and intent. The same press note mentioned above states that, “On 17th November 2016, the administration came to know about the police (Joint Commissioner of Police, Crime) investigation stating that they have traced the driver of the auto‐rickshaw who Ahmed hired on October 15 from Jawaharlal Nehru University to reach the campus of Jamia Millia Islamia, as reported in the newspapers.”

A month has now passed since police got this input but no breakthrough has been made in the case. Given the fact that police has been slammed by the court for its inability to find Najeeb, it is only in the former’s interest to find him. And its inability to find a 27-year-old student can be due to two reasons: Because of complete ineptness of police that cannot trace a student and a probability of some unfortunate incident that had struck Najeeb.

While the former can only be a matter of embarrassment for police, the possibility of the latter coming true can seriously change the narrative of the student politics in India’s one of the best universities.

First Published On : Dec 12, 2016 17:58 IST

Revenue jump will not attract taxmen, govt assures traders

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>To encourage digital transactions, the Revenue Department has directed its officials to not check the past records of businesses, in case the turnover shows a sudden increase due to the use of digital means of payment. The announcement is expected to allay the fears of traders and businessmen, who were concerned that the turnover jump brought about by the shift to digital modes may attract tax sleuths’ attention.Most businessmen and traders dealt in cash earlier but have now been forced to adopt the digital payment system, which keeps an account of each and every penny received. This is leading to sudden jumps in the turnover amount. Traders were apprehensive that they will be asked to explain the huge gap in the last and current year’s performance to the tax department.The government decision to not reopen last year’s files even if the turnover increases, as long as the traders shift to digital modes of payment, has come as a huge relief for business owners. The tax evasion cases, which usually come to light through an abrupt jump in the turnover amount, are filed under section 147 of the I-T Act, 1961.In an internal communication, a copy of which is with DNA, the Revenue Department has stated that the turnover jump “could not be the sole reason” to believe that someone’s income escaped assessment in the past. The Department further stated that reopening files under section 147 was feasible only when the assessing officer “has reason to believe that any income chargeable to tax has escaped assessment for any assessment year”, and not on the basis of mere suspicion.As per the I-T Ministry data, there was a 95 per cent increase in the number of transactions through the Point of Sale (PoS) system in November as compared to October. While 50.2 lakh transactions took place through the PoS system in October, the number was 98.1 lakh in November.In line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s demonetization drive, the government is pushing the digital payment system. The expectation is that in a cashless economy, no financial transaction would remain undisclosed.RS 30 CR SEIZEDBulk seizures of new currency rose on Saturday with three more incidents being reported including one in which the IT department recovered Rs 5.7 crore cash in new notes secretly stashed inside the bathroom tiles of a hawala dealer in Chitradurga district in Karnataka (see pic). A fresh seizure of Rs 24 crore cash in new notes was also made by the IT department in Chennai.

West Bengal CID arrests chairman Pawan Ruia in connection with Railway complaint

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Ruia Group Chairman Pawan Ruia was on Saturday arrested by West Bengal CID from his New Delhi residence in connection with a complaint of theft lodged by railways last month.Ruia was arrested from his residence in Sundar Nagar area in the national capital on Saturday morning, a senior CID officer said.Ruia was arrested on the basis of complaint of Railways ministry regarding theft of its goods worth Rs 50 crore which went missing from the Jessop factory premises in Dum Dum in the city, the officer said. He has been booked under IPC sections 420 (cheating), 406 (Punishment for criminal breach of trust) and 409 (criminal breach of trust by public servant, or by banker, merchant or agent), the officer said.The Railways had filed an FIR with the Dum Dum Police Station after an inspection team found several equipment and coaches worth Rs 50 crore were missing from the factory premises at Dum Dum.The CID had summoned Ruia four times in the past in connection with its probe into a theft case in the Jessop factory in Dum Dum where a fire had broken out on October 17. A Special Investigating Team was formed by the CID to probe the theft at the factory premises.Ruia had moved Calcutta High Court which refused to stay proceedings against him in connection with the case filed by the CID following the fire and directed him to cooperate in the investigation.Ruia had moved the High Court seeking quashing of the case filed against him by CID, claiming he is not the chairman of Jessop and he is neither the director nor a shareholder, or an occupier of Jessop and Co Ltd or any of its premises. Former workers of the factory had alleged that the fire was part of a “conspiracy by a third party” following which the West Bengal government ordered a CID probe into the incident.

Manmohan Singh’s warning to Narendra Modi: Is demonetisation already a ‘mammoth tragedy’?

The choice of words of Manmohan Singh, former prime minister and an economist, for his column in The Hindu on demonetisation impact on India’s economy, beginning with the title, Making of a mammoth tragedy, should worry the average Indian. Even if one tend to discount the politics of Singh’s article, the former RBI governor’s warning on an impending economic crisis, that according to him, will mainly hit the poor, is worth paying a great deal of attention by his successor in PMO, Narendra Modi.

Singh begins the piece by lauding Modi’s intention—addressing black money, fake currency problems—but later goes on to say that what he has done to achieve this task will not only work but its ‘unintended consequence’ will harm the poor greatly. Singh said. “All black money is not in cash, only a tiny fraction is. Against this backdrop, the decision by the Prime Minister is bound to have obverse implications by causing grievous injury to the honest Indian who earns his/her wages in cash and a mere rap on the knuckles to the dishonest black money hoarder.” Singh, who had just recently warned about a 2 percent GDP decline following demonetisation, ends his article saying “It is my humble opinion that we as a nation should brace ourselves for a tough period over the coming months, needlessly so.”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. AFPPrime Minister Narendra Modi. AFP

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. AFP

Is the former PM overstating the short-term pain caused by the demonetisation calling it ‘a mammoth tragedy’, launching a political attack intended to bulldoze a massive economic reform shouldered by his political rival–something and a missed opportunity for his government? Or is it an important caution from an economist-cum former central banker that should be an eye-opener even to his political enemies and the finance ministry?

It is too early to talk about the actual impact on the economy and its various stakeholders from the artificial cash crunch that is a consequence to PM Modi’s massive currency crackdown that has parallels in India only to the 1978 currency ban by Morarji Desai Government. But, some indications have begun to flow in, which indeed shows things have taken a bad turn for the economy though no one is sure how things will pan out from this point.

Let’s look at the available data so far and try understanding Singh’s caution.


The demonetisation announcement happened on 8 November. The only real numbers that gauge the economic activity in the month of November that is out is the Nikkei India Services Business Activity Index for manufacturing and services sectors. This is an important index economists and central bank track to fathom the trends in these key areas. The services sector PMI sharply fell to 46.7 in November from 54.5 in October—that is the biggest monthly drop since November 2008, just two months after the global financial crisis hit the economy following the US investment bank Lehman Brothers going bust in September. A reading of PMI above 50 typically shows economic growth, while a figure below 50 indicates contraction. “The latest set of gloomy PMI figures for the Indian service sector shows that companies were heavily impacted by the 500 and 1,000 rupee notes ban. Cash shortages resulted in fewer new business intakes, which in turn caused a fall in activity and ended a 16-month sequence of expansion ,” said Pollyanna De Lima, Economist at Markit and author of the report.

A decline, though not to this extent, was seen in the manufacturing PMI as well with the index shrinking to 52.3 in November from October’s 22-month high of 54.4. But, the PMI numbers do indicate both manufacturing and services have taken a major hit in November. One needs to wait and watch how things will pan out from here on when more data comes.

November auto sales

Then we have the auto sales numbers, which is a good indicator to know what is happening on the ground. According to PTI report, the vehicle sales across categories registered a decline of 5.48 per cent at 15,63,665 units, from 16,54,407 in November 2015. It is the steepest decline in 43 months when total sales had declined by 7.75 per cent in March 2013. Two wheelers and commercial vehicles are the segments that are hit most. According to Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM), passenger vehicle sales last month were at 2,40,979 units, as against 2,36,664 in November last year. Domestic car sales ticked up to 1,73,606 units as against 1,73,111 in November last year while that of commercial vehicles (CVs) was down 11.58 per cent at 45,773 units in November, SIAM said. According to this report, total two-wheeler market sales dropped by five per cent, with market leaders like Hero MotoCorp and Bajaj Auto witnessing major fall. Hero MotoCorp sold 4,79,856 units of two-wheelers in November, marking a fall of around 12.9 percent year-on-year, while Bajaj Auto saw sales dropping by 12 percent in November, and others reported a flat growth.

The RBI cues

The RBI’s approach to the demonetisation impact on the economy is bit perplexing, but the obtrusive caution is hard to ignore. In its latest bi-monthly policy review, the central bank has already cut the FY17 growth forecast to 7.1 percent from 7.6 percent, but not taking into account the full impact of demonetisation shock. “The withdrawal of SBNs could transiently interrupt some part of industrial activity in November-December due to delays in payments of wages and purchases of inputs, although a fuller assessment is awaited,” the RBI said.

The RBI indeed acknowledges that there’ll be ‘short-run disruptions in economic activity in cash-intensive sectors such as retail trade, hotels & restaurants and transportation, and in the unorganised sector’. But the RBI’s larger assumption seems to be that there will be a recovery beyond short –term pain of cash-crunch. “ If the impact is transient as widely expected, growth should rebound strongly.”

But the central bank too only ‘expects’ that the demonetisation effect is ‘transient’ but it is not fully sure on the actual impact. “The outlook for GVA growth for 2016-17 has turned uncertain after the unexpected loss of momentum by 50 basis points in Q2 and the effects of the withdrawal of SBNs (specified bank notes) which are still playing out.” In short, the RBI has no clue at this stage what the demonetisation will do to the economic growth. It primarily attributes the loss of growth momentum in second quarter to the downward revision and to the as yet unclear effects of note ban. This means, if things turn bad, the 7.1 percent growth projection could be revised downwards even further to 6-6.5 percent.

Job losses

There are indications of severe hit to the employments in the informal sector post after the government announced Rs 500, Rs 1,000 notes as illegal tender on 8 November. As Singh points out in his Op-ed, “more than 90 per cent of India’s workforce still earn their wages in cash. These consist of hundreds of millions of agriculture workers, construction workers and so on”. The pain and suffering of these segments, which constitute the majority is not quantifiable, but no government can shun the responsibility of massive losses in the country that is a consequence of a “well thought-out”, conscious policy action, which according to RBI governor Urjit Patel, “wasn’t done in haste”. We don’t have reliable figures on job data. But, according to a report in Financial Express, which quotes unnamed industry officials, “As many as 4 lakh people, mostly daily wagers, may have either lost their jobs or shunned work temporarily due to the lack of payment so far, and the number is only going to grow if the cash crunch persists.”

Even the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, the labour wing of BJP’s ideological parent, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh has raised an alarm about the huge hit on job losses. “”Under the new government, 1 lakh and 35 thousand job opportunities have been created so far but 20 lakh people have lost their jobs,” Baij Nath Rai, president of the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, told The Telegraph. This is a serious situation indeed in a country where job creation is already a massive challenge. The onus, yet again, falls on the Modi-government here.

The big question is how long the pain will last. There is no clarity on this either from the government and the central bank. PM Modi talks about 50-days, his finance minister, Arun Jaitley speaks of two or three quarters and the RBI doesn’t seem to have an answer except assuring the public that there is enough cash out there and things are under “constant review”.

There are no two thoughts on the intentions behind the demonetisation exercise but when ultimately a cost-benefit analysis is done, and if the government finds little luck on recovery on unaccounted cash, the cost of this whole exercise will be enormous, far outweighing the gains that may include more people moving to non-cash transactions. PM Modi’s big task now is to ensure demonetisation doesn’t end up as a tragedy.

Data support from Kishor Kadam

First Published On : Dec 9, 2016 14:59 IST

Cauvery water dispute: SC reiterates order asking Karnataka to release 2000 cusecs of water to Tamil Nadu

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Supreme Court has reiterated that the order to release 2000 cusecs of water to Tamil Nadu will stand till further orders.The apex court has also upheld the maintainability of appeals filed by Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala against the 2007 award of Cauvery water dispute tribunal.The Centre had opposed it stating that plea filed by Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu was not maintainable.The next date of hearing in the matter in Supreme Court is December 15.The top court also said that its interim orders on the issue will continue.On September 30, the apex court had directed Karnataka to discharge 6,000 cusecs water from October 1-6, warning that no one would know when the “wrath of the law” would fall on it.In his reply in the Karnataka Assembly, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah gave strong indications of complying with the order of the Supreme Court to release water to Tamil Nadu, while assuring the people that government would make all efforts to meet drinking water needs and to save standing crops. Siddaramaiah said the state had never defied the court orders and noted that “we are in a federal set up”.

Jayalalithaa is dead: A chronology of events leading to her return as CM

Chennai: Chronology of major milestones in the four-decade political career of AIADMK supremo and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa who passed away on Tuesday night.

24 June 1991: Sworn in Chief Minister for the first time after she leads AIADMK to a huge win in assembly elections.

May 1996: Amidst charges of corruption during its rule, AIADMK loses in the assembly elections. DMK returns to power.

File photo of Jayalalithaa. Reuters

File photo of Jayalalithaa. Reuters

11 July 1996: Then Janata Party leader Subramanian Swamy files private complaint in a court accusing Jayalalithaa of amassing wealth worth Rs 66.65 crore disproportionate to her known sources of income during 1991 to 1996.

7 December: Jayalalithaa arrested. Charges of corruption, including accumulation of disproportionate assets, follows.

April, 1997: DMK Government sets up three special courts to try 47 corruption cases against Jayalalithaa, her former cabinet colleagues and others.

1997: Prosecution launched against Jayalalithaa, her close friend Sasikala and two others in a Chennai Court in DA case.

4 June 1997: Charge-sheeted in DA case.

1999: Discharged in coal import deal case by special court; upheld by Madras High Court.

2 February 2000: Special court convicts her in Pleasant Stay Hotel case related to permission granted for construction allegedly flouting rules.

October 2000: A special court in Chennai convicts Jayalalithaa in TANSI land deal case.

May 14, 2001: Jayalalithaa leads AIADMK to landslide win in assembly elections; Sworn in Chief Minister though she was disqualified to contest elections.

21 September 2001: Jayalalithaa unseated as CM after Supreme Court quashes her appointment as she was disqualified to contest polls due to TANSI case conviction.

4 December: Madras High Court acquits Jayalalithaa in the TANSI case and Pleasant Stay Hotel case.

21 February 2002: Jayalalithaa elected to Assembly in a bypoll from Andipatti constituency.

2 March: Jayalalithaa sworn in Chief Minister.

18 November 2003: On a petition by DMK, Supreme Court transfers the trial in DA case to Bengaluru.

24 November: Supreme Court upholds Jayalalithaa’s acquittal in TANSI case.

23 January 2004: Acquitted by a special court in the Rs 28.28 crore SPIC disinvestment case.

11 May 2006: AIADMK loses in assembly elections, DMK returns to power.

16 May 2011: Jayalalithaa leads AIADMK to victory in assembly polls; sworn in as Chief Minister.

October/November 2011: Jayalalithaa deposes in Bengaluru Special Court in DA case and answers 1,339 questions by judge.

27 September 2014: The Special Court holds Jayalalithaa and three others guilty of corruption, awards four years’ jail term to each, slaps Rs 100 crore fine on her, Rs 10 crore each on three other accused. Jayalalithaa unseated as Chief Minister after she attracts disqualification as an MLA due to the conviction.

18 October 2014: Jayalalithaa granted bail by Supreme Court, released from Bengaluru jail after spending 21 days.

11 May 2015: Karnataka High Court acquits Jayalaithaa.

22 May: Jayalalithaa elected leader of AIADMK legislature party.

23 May: Sworn in as Chief Minister for fifth time.

19 May 2016: Leads AIADMK to a record consecutive win in assembly elections.

22 September: Admitted to Apollo Hospitals with complaints of fever and dehydration.

2 Octtober: Hospital says CM being treated for infection, improving.

21 October: Hospital says Jayalalithaa interacting.

4 November: Hospital Chairman P C Reddy says Jayalalithaa “completely recovered”; she has to decide when to go home.

12 November: Apollo says Jaya needs recuperation, no date fixed for discharge.

13 November: In her first direct communication since her hospitalisation, Jayalalithaa says she has taken ‘rebirth’
because of people’s prayers; urges them to vote for AIADMK in the November 19 bypolls to three assembly constituencies.

19 November: Jayalalithaa shifted to private room from Critical Care Unit.

22 November: Jayalalithaa thanks voters for electing her party candidates in polls.

25 November: PC Reddy says Jayalalithaa speaking using tracheostomy tube valve.

4 December: AIADMK says AIIMS expert team confirms Jayalalithaa has recovered completely.

4 December: Jayalalithaa suffers massive cardiac arrest; put on extracorporeal membrane heart assist device.

5 December: Jayalalithaa passes away at 11.30 PM.

First Published On : Dec 6, 2016 03:50 IST

#HeartofAsia: We were gracious host, Sartaj Aziz has no reason to complain, says govt

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As a “gracious host”, India extended all facilities to Sartaj Aziz for his trip here to attend the Heart of Asia conference and there was no reason to complain, government sources said on Monday, a day after Pakistan claimed that restrictions were put on his movement and he was not allowed speak to media.The sources also said a rare exception was made to allow arrival and departure of Aziz, who led the Pakistani delegation, by air at Amritsar which is not a designated port for entry and exit of Pakistani nationals, besides giving swift clearance despite a last minute change in his scheduled arrival by a special flight.In a hurriedly called press conference after his return from Amritsar on Sunday night, Aziz had accused India of not treating the Pakistani media properly at the Heart of Asia meeting and said he was not allowed to have a press conference. “The attitude towards media was not good. I wanted to have press interaction with our own media. But we were not allowed,” he alleged.On Sunday, Pakistan had also claimed that Aziz was not allowed to visit the Golden Temple and speak to Pakistani media at the hotel where he was staying even as India said it was done considering his security.”They have no reasons to complain. We were gracious hosts. Extended tarmac access, gave additional rooms, provided armoured cars (not given to every Foreign Minister) and other conveniences keeping special security requirements in view.”This was done despite the last minute change of programme and advancing of arrival in Amritsar by special flight by more than 12 hours. Fresh flight clearance was issued within minutes,” the sources said.They said Aziz could be present in the official dinner and in the call on Prime Minister on the evening of October 3 due to the last minute clearance given.”In addition, they were actively engaged in the Senior Officials Meeting and Ministerial and all other requests honoured. A rare exception was made to allow arrival and departure by air at Amritsar which is not a designated airport for entry and exit for Pakistani nationals,” they said.Aziz was scheduled to arrive here on Sunday but came a day early for the conference due to prevailing weather condition. Almost the entire northern India has been affected by thick cover of fog for the last two days, delaying flights and trains services.

Jayalalithaa supporter dies of shock

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The frenzy over Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa’s critical heath condition seems to have begun as a distressed supporter died last night upon finding out Amma’s status. All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) cadre Nelagandan from Cuddalore district Gandhi Nagar died yesterday night after seeing the news of Jayalalithaa’s health on the television.Nelagandan, who was distraught upon finding out about Amma, suddenly experienced severe chest pains and passed out, while he was watching the news.His family immediately called the Ambulance, but were later informed by the medics that he had already passed away.In a similar note, a 47-year-old AIADMK worker who was besides himself over the rumours about Jayalalithaa’s health had died of heart attack in Coimbatore on October 6.Meanwhile, with Chief Minister Jayalalithaa critical after she suffered a cardiac arrest yesterday evening, the state government has sought the help of the para military forces to handle the crowd in case of any emergency.Security has been stepped up across the city to attend any eventuality and buses plying out of Chennai have been reduced tonight and security in the capital has been tightened.

IT department rejects Mumbai family’s Rs 2 lakh crore income declaration

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Income Tax Department has rejected two sets of declarations of Rs.2 lakh crore and Rs. 13,860 crore made from Mumbai and Ahmedabad, respectively, after an inquiry found that declarants were ‘persons of suspicious nature’ and ‘very small means’ and the declarations could have been misused.These declarations were kept pending for investigation about the genuineness of the same and were not included in the total value of declarations announced on October1, said a statement issued by the Department of Revenue Central Board of Direct Taxes, Union Ministry of Finance. ‘It was announced that declarations totalling Rs. 65,250 crore were received from 64,275 declarants, subject to reconciliation. After final reconciliation, the revised figure of actual declarations received and taken on record was Rs. 67,382 crores, which had been made by 71,726 declarants,’ said the statement. Among the declarations received, there were two sets of declarations of high value, which were not taken on record in the above figure because they were found to be suspicious in nature being filed by persons of small means. A family of four declarants ‘ Abdul Razzaque Mohammed Sayed (self), Mohammed Aarif Abdul Razzaque Sayed (son), Rukhsana Abdul Razzaque Sayed (wife) and Noorjahan Mohammed Sayed (sister) ‘ all residents Linking Road, Bandra (W), Mumbai, had filed a total declaration of Rs. 2 lakh crore. Three out of the four PAN numbers were originally in Ajmer, which were migrated to Mumbai in September, where the declarations were filed. The other declaration was filed by one Maheshkumar Champaklal Shah, a resident Jodhpur Gram Satellite, Ahmedabad, for an amount of Rs. 13,860 crore. The department has commenced inquiries against these declarants to determine the intention behind these false declarations, the statement added. The declarations were made under an Income Declaration Scheme (IDS), which was announced in the budget under which declaration of undisclosed income or asset could be made by agreeing to pay 45 percent of the declared amount as tax, surcharge and penalty. The scheme closed on September 30.IDS gets Rs 67,382 cr, over Rs 2K cr higher than estimateThe Finance Ministry revised upwards black money disclosed under Income Declaration Scheme (IDS) to Rs 67,382 crore, which will fetch the government a little over Rs 30,000 crore in direct tax revenue even as it did not take into account two high value disclosures.The Income Tax Department, it said, did not take into consideration the much-talked about Rs 13,860 crore declaration made by Ahemdabad based Mahesh kumar Champaklal Shah, who has threatened to disclose the names of politicians and businessmen for whom he was acting as a front.”Among the declarations received, there were two sets of declarations of high value which were not taken on record in the above figure because they were found to be suspicious in nature being filed by persons of small means,” the Finance Ministry said in a statement.It said: “On Oct 1, 2016, it was announced that declarations totalling Rs 65,250 crore were received from 64,275 declarants, subject to reconciliation.”After final reconciliation the revised figure of actual declarations received and taken on record was Rs 67,382 crore which had been made by 71,726 declarants.” On the omission, former Finance Minister P Chidambaram in a tweet said, “There is a Rs 13,860 crore hole in the Rs 65,000 crore IDS! How many more holes’”Giving details, it said a family of four headed by one Abdul Razzaque Mohammed Sayed, residents of Bandra, Mumbai made a total declaration of Rs 2 lakh crore which was rejected by the Department as three out of the four PAN numbers were originally in Ajmer which were migrated in September 2016 to Mumbai, the place of the declarations.These declarations from Mumbai and Ahmedabad were kept pending for investigation about the genuineness of the same and were not included in the total value of declarations announced on October 1, it said.After due enquiry it was found that these declarants were persons of suspicious nature and very small means and the declarations could have been misused, it said.”Therefore, after due consideration, the Income Tax Department decided by November 30, to reject these two sets of declarations of Rs 2 lakh crore and Rs 13,860 respectively.The Department has commenced enquiries against these declarants to determine the intention behind these false declarations,” said the ministry’s statement.With inputs from PTI and ANI

Afroz Shah wins UN Environment award

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>It was just a month ago when the massive air pollution in Delhi had raised serious concerns over the safety of environment. On Saturday, Afroz Shah, a Mumbai-based lawyer made the country proud by winning United Nations Environment Programme Award which seeks to prove that citizens can also make a difference in protecting the environment.Shah is among five people and one agency in the world bestowed with the ‘Champions of the Earth award’ this year. Shah, 36, is known for leading a massive clean-up exercise at Versova Beach in Mumbai launched in October 2015. Shah and his neighbour Harbansh Mathur, 84, who passed away earlier this year, had started manually cleaning Versova beach last year. The clean-up soon grew into a massive movement getting hundreds of volunteers to join hands. They have segregated over 4,000 tons of garbage so far.Within a year, his work was recognised by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) as the ‘largest beach cleaning campaign in the world’ and his efforts as an example of the key role of citizen action in protecting the environment. The awards were announced on Friday night during a global conference on biological diversity in Cancum, Mexico.Shah has received the award under the ‘Action and Inspiration’ category for kick-starting a campaign to pick up by hand, all the plastic bags, cement sacks, glass bottles, pieces of clothing, and shoes, that covered the entire 2.5-km stretch of the Versova Beach, even rising many feet high in some places.“Shah’s efforts, and the hundreds of volunteers he’s inspired, is a wonderful example of citizen action and reminds the rest of the world that even the most ambitious, global agreements are as good as the individual action and determination that brings them to life. His outstanding leadership is drawing global attention to the devastating impacts of marine litter,” said United Nations Environment Project (UNEP) Chief Erik Solheim, who had joined Shah in the clean-up for a day in October.“This award belongs to everyone who participated in the Versova beach clean-up in any way or will do so in the future. This honour has brought a huge responsibility as well. Now with the help of BMC and the state government, we will chalk out a multi-pronged strategy to make sure that our oceans are clean and safe,” said Shah.

Versova beach cleanup man Afroz Shah wins UN award

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>It was just a month ago when the massive air pollution in the national capital Delhi had raised serious concerns globally, over our preparedness to keep the environment safe amidst development. On Saturday, Afroz Shah, a Mumbai-based young lawyer made the country proud by winning United Nations Environment Award which underlines that alert citizens can make a difference in protecting the environment. Shah is in Cancum, Mexico at present where he received the award during a global conference on biological diversity. Shah is among five people and one agency in the world bestowed with the ‘Champions of the Earth’ award this year. He won under the ‘Action and Inspiration’ category for kick-starting a volunteer campaign to pick up, by hand, the leftover plastics, bottles, shoes and other garbage that covered the entire 2.5 km stretch of the Versova Beach in Mumbai. United Nations Environment Project (UNEP) has lauded the Shah’s efforts to lead the largest beach cleanup drive in the world as an example of the key role of citizen action in protecting the environment. Shah and his neighbour Harbansh Mathur (84) had started manually cleaning Versova beach in October 2015. The cleanup work soon grew into a massive movement getting hundreds of volunteers joining hands together. They segregated over 4,000 tons of garbage in a year. Shah and Mathur, who has since passed away, inspired volunteers to join them – from slum-dwellers to Bollywood stars, from school children to politicians. “Shah’s efforts, and the hundreds of volunteers he’s inspired, is a wonderful example of citizen action and reminds the rest of the world that even the most ambitious, global agreements are only as good as the individual action and determination that brings them to life. His outstanding leadership is drawing global attention to the devastating impacts of marine litter,” said UNEP chief Erik Solheim, who had joined Shah in the clean-up for a day in October. Shah now wants to clean up the coastline’s rubbish-choked mangrove forests, which act as a natural defence against storm surges, and to inspire similar groups across India and beyond to launch their own clean-up movements.

Gujarat man declares Rs 13,860 cr cash, but whose money is it?

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>All that the Income-Tax (I-T) Department could unearth from the residence and office of Mahesh Shah, a land dealer in Jodhpur Cross Roads, Ahmedabad, was some documents on land deals, though Shah had declared Rs 13,860 crore in cash under the Income Disclosure Scheme (IDS).The I-T department on Friday claimed to have recovered Rs 40 lakh in cash and jewellery worth Rs 30 lakh from Shah’s business associates, besides seizing six bank lockers from them and his chartered accountant (CA).The search operations were carried out two days before November 30, the last day for Shah to pay the first tax installment of Rs 1,560 crore. Shah had declared cash of Rs 13,860 crore on September 30 – the last day for disclosure under the scheme.Shah not only missed the deadline but went missing as well, leaving many questions unanswered. His CA Tehmul Sethna said that he first met Shah in 2013 in connection with a land deal.”I gave him some advice on his undisclosed income that time and won his trust. He later met me for advice on IDS. I told him it would be a win-win situation for both him and the I-T department,” said Sethna. “I did not have doubts about his credentials because I knew of his networks and land deals. In the last week of September, we met an Income-Tax Commissioner to discuss the disclosure. On September 30, following his advice, Shah disclosed an income Rs 13,860 crore,” added Sethna.”We cannot rule out the possibility that some part of what he declared may belong to some bigwigs,” said SethnaHe said that the I-T department then checked Shah’s credibility and worthiness, and, on October 14, issued him the IDS Form 2 (the form to disclose income). Under the scheme, he was to pay 45 per cent income tax on the declared amount, and the first installment (Rs 1,560 crore) was to be paid by November 30.”But, for some reason, the I-T department began to doubt his ability to pay. On November 28, for unknown reasons, they cancelled his IDS Form 2,” said Sethna.”They searched the offices and residences of Shah and his associates, including mine. What I learned during the search at my residence and office is that the I-T department suspected that some money-laundering may be done through the payment of Rs 6,240 crore tax (45 per cent on the declared IDS) and so cancelled the IDS,” said Sethna.Interestingly, I-T officials said the investigation wing of the department (which carries out search operations) had no clue about Shah’s declaration under the IDS scheme. “Each wing of the department maintains confidentiality. o one wing does not know what the other is up to,” said an official.According to an official, the investigation department had information that Shah and his associates were helping in currency exchange (exchanging banned currency notes with acceptable ones for a commission). “We searched 12 places in the city, including the residences of Shah, his business associates and CA. It is just a coincidence that, on November 28, Shah’s IDS form got cancelled and on November 29 the search operations began,” said the official.According to I-T department records, Shah’s tax returns for the past few years showed his annual income between Rs 2 lakh and Rs 3 lakh. Sethna said that Shah is a big investor in land and has land parcels in Ahmedabad, Mumbai and its suburbs.Who is Mahesh Shah?The 67-year-old is a heart patient who has undergone a surgery. He has a wife and two children, a son who is unemployed, and lives with him at his residence in Jodhpur, and a daughter who is married and lives in Prahaladnagar. His wife is a cancer patient and is bedridden. For 59 days, after he first made the declaration under the IDS scheme on September 30, the I-T department thought of him as a ‘genuine’ assessee and waited for him to pay tax. “He lived in a 3 BHK, but otherwise he lived a luxurious life. When on tour, he would check in only to five-star hotels but whenever he visits me, he would take an auto,” said Sethna.

Kochi: Three arrested for preparing textbooks that asked students to ‘lay down their lives for Islam’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Three persons associated with a Mumbai-based educational research organisation were arrested here for allegedly preparing school textbooks with ‘objectionable and non-secular’ content, police said. Sources in the Kochi Police said the arrest of three persons from Mumbai-based ‘Burooj Realization’ was made following its investigation into a case against a school here for allegedly teaching students objectionable content and exhorting them to lay down their lives for Islam. The accused are allegedly responsible for preparing contents for the controversial textbooks taught at the Peace International School at Thammanam in Kochi, a police official told PTI.They were arrested from Kochi, the official said. He, however, declined to provide details.The controversial school in Kochi is run by a trust headed by influential local businessmen. It is not clear if the curriculum was drafted by persons close to controversial preacher Zakir Naik. Police had earlier registered a case under IPC sections 153 A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc, and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony) and 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention) against the school principal, administrator and three trustees.The case was registered in October this year on the basis of a report filed by the Ernakulam District Education Officer, stating that “what was being taught was not secular”.Police had said Islamic curriculum was being followed in the school and students were being exhorted to lay down their lives for Islam.The school has classes from LKG till eighth standard.

Chhattisgarh: Naxal hotbed Kanker turning into custard apple production hub

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Chhattisgarh’s Kanker district, which has been infamous for Naxal violence, is turning out to be a custard apple production hub thereby transforming lives of villagers, particularly tribals, of the region.Located in northern part of Bastar division, Kanker, around 150 kms away from here, has recorded a huge production of roughly 6,000 tonnes of custard apple (popularly known in Hindi as ‘sitaphal’) this year, as per local officials. “Although, thousands of farmers in the district have been traditionally involved in the collection and sale of Sitafal, but it was in an unorganised manner and therefore they failed to reap profit from the fruit,” says Kanker Collector Shammi Abidi. In a unique initiative by the district administration that could well serve as a model for villages across the country, the village womenfolk, traditionally involved in collection and selling of Sitaphal fruit, were brought together in an organised manner and trained in efficient collection and effective marketing so that they could get the best possible returns on the produce without being exploited at the hands of middlemen.More than 900 members of Forest Protection Committees (​FPC) and Self Help Groups​ (SHGs) are intensely involved in the project and about 4,000 farmers are directly benefited through this initiative. As on October 30, 2016, 20,278 boxes (each containing 1.5 kg) of custard apple were sold at the average selling rate of Rs 60 per box, earning a profit of Rs 30 per box, the collector said.Besides, pulp extraction and its preservation through anti-browning technology is also being done by setting up 10 pulping centres in the district. So far, 3,165 kilograms of pulp has been extracted by producer groups which is priced at Rs 200 per kg, leading to a profit of Rs 140 per kg, she said.At least 155 farmers are involved in direct marketing of fruits in Raipur and Durg/Bhilai, she pointed out.Giving details on how the project was conceived, Abidi said earlier, the tribals who collect custard apples – a highly perishable fruit with low shelf life – sold it at a throwaway price of Rs 4 per kg to the ‘kochias’ (middle men) or at the local markets.Subsequently, the district administration took up the project last year on experimental basis to mobilise the farmers and assist them in scientific upkeep of trees bearing this fruit and better marketing. They were made aware of different avenues of the fruit marketing and, over and above, establishing a brand in the name of ‘Kanker Valley Fresh’ custard apple, she said.

Illegal funds being sent to Kashmir to create unrest: Kiren Rijiju

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Illegal funds are being sent through ‘hawala’ and other channels to inimical forces in Kashmir Valley to incite protests, Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju said on Wednesday. Replying to a written question in the Rajya Sabha, Rijiju said the practice of sending illegal money through ‘hawala’ and other channels to inimical elements in the Valley to incite protests have been going on. Rijiju’s colleague, Minister of State for Home Hansraj Ahir said separatists and militants were receiving funds from foreign countries through ‘hawala’ and inward remittances. Referring to the tension along the Indo-Pak border, Rijiju said 24 suspected militants, who were trying to infiltrate into Jammu and Kashmir, were killed, while 78 attempts of infiltration were foiled till October-end this year.Till October this year, there were 201 incidents of infiltration from across the border into Jammu and Kashmir and 30 cases of infiltration into Punjab. He said five BSF personnel killed were and nine others injured due to cross-border firing between September and October this year. Replying to another question, Ahir said there was no information about espionage being carried out by Pakistan using pigeons.However, some pigeons with rubber tag with Pakistani telephone no/name of persons have been found in border areas, he said.

Maharashtra: RTI activist Satish Shetty’s murder suspect killed in police shootout

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A history-sheeter, suspected to be involved in the murders of RTI activist Satish Shetty and a local BJP leader, and his associate were killed in an alleged shootout with police on the outskirts of city on Monday.The deceased, identified as Shyam Dabhade, had a string of cases pending against him in various police stations in Pune district, ranging from murder to robbery.According to a police official, Dabhade’s movements might have got restricted because of the cash crunch following demonetisation of high value currencies.While Shetty was murdered in 2010, BJP leader Sachin Shelke (38) was hacked to death last month in broad daylight in Talegaon Dabhade, about 35 kms from here.”Our local crime branch officials received a tip-off that Dabhade and his aide Dhananjay Shinde were hiding in the forest near Chakan,” Superintendent of Police Jay Jadhav said.”After conducting combing operation for the whole night, Dabhade and his aide were located near windmills close to Varsai and they were asked to surrender by our four teams headed by senior police inspector Ram Jadhav,” he said.However, instead of surrendering, the duo fired eight rounds at the police teams and in retaliation, the policemen too fired five rounds.”In the retaliatory fire, both were injured seriously and taken to Chakan rural hospital where they were declared brought dead,” the SP said.Inspector General of Police (Kolhapur) Vishwas Nangre Patil said Dabhade had created a “terror-like” atmosphere in the industrial belt by terrorising people through extortion.”After the gruesome murder of Shelke on October 16, there was a panic among the industries and local people. After today’s incident, a strong message has gone to goons in area and the incident will have impact on the criminal activities in the area,” he said.Dabhade had 19 cases registered against him in various police stations including of murder, attempt to murder, extortion, Arms Act, and robbery.On the probe into the shootout, Nangre Patil said in such cases judicial inquiry is mandatory which will be initiated.

Tamil Nadu: Heavy rains forecast in coastal areas, Puducherry from 1 December

Chennai: A well-marked low pressure over Bay of Bengal and Indian Ocean is likely to concentrate into a depression in the next 24 hours, and bring heavy rainfall to coastal Tamil Nadu and neighbouring Puducherry from 1 December, MeT office said on Tuesday.

The forecast indicates revival of the north east monsoon, which has been rather inactive, especially in northern parts of the state since its onset in October end.

Representational image. Getty imagesRepresentational image. Getty images

Representational image. Getty images

“Yesterday’s [Monday’s] well-marked low pressure area over Southeast Bay of Bengal and adjoining equatorial Indian Ocean persists. It is very likely to concentrate into a depression during next 24 hours,” the Regional Meteorological Centre (RMC) here said.

Accordingly, strong winds and heavy to very heavy rainfall are likely over coastal Tamil Nadu and Puducherry on 1 and 2 December, it said, and advised fishermen against venturing into sea, starting Wednesday.

“Those who are already in the deep sea are advised to return to the coast immediately,” it added.

The northeast monsoon brings the bulk of Tamil Nadu’s annual rainfall (48 percent) and became active in October end.

However, several parts of the state, especially in the north, including the state capital are yet to receive significant spells of rain, causing concern.

This is in contrast to the situation last year during the monsoon, when four northern coastal districts — Chennai, Kancheepuram, Tiruvallore and Cuddalore — suffered a deluge following unprecedented downpour. Tuticorin in southern Tamil Nadu too had faced the monsoon fury.

First Published On : Nov 29, 2016 16:35 IST

Pakistan had a ‘direct role’ in mutilation of jawan’s body in Machhil: Indian Army

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Army said on Monday said Pakistan had a “direct role” in the mutilation of a soldier’s body along the Line of Control in Machhil sector of Kupwara district on November 22. “Refer to Machhil operation of November 22, where body of one soldier was mutilated, search leads to recoveries that indicate Pakistan’s complicity,” an army officer at the Udhampur-based Northern Command said in a statement.Three soldiers were killed and the body of one of them was mutilated when infiltrators had ambushed an army patrol in the Machhil sector on November 22. The eatables and other items recovered from the area show the marking of “Pakistan Defense Force”, “Pakistan standard” and the night vision that bears the seal of “Government Property”, which is made by the US and used by the Pakistan army, the officer said. “Three soldiers were killed in action on the LoC in Machhil. Body of one soldier mutilated, retribution will be heavy for this cowardly act,” Army had said after the killing.It was second incident of mutilation of soldier’s body in less than a month, triggering outrage. On October 28, aided by the cover fire by Pakistani Army, terrorists had crossed the LoC and killed an army jawan and mutilated his body in Machhil sector. One attacker was killed in that incident. In June 2008, a soldier of the 2/8 Gorkha Rifles lost his way and was captured by a Pakistani Border Action Team (BAT) in Kel sector. His body was found beheaded few days later.

Pakistan played a direct role in mutilation of jawan’s body in Machhil sector: Indian Army

Jammu: The Army on Monday said Pakistan had a “direct role” in the mutilation of a soldier’s body along the Line of Control in Machhil sector of Kupwara district on 22 November.

“Refer to Machhil operation of November 22, where body of one soldier was mutilated, search leads to recoveries that indicate Pakistan’s complicity,” an army officer at the Udhampur-based Northern Command said in a statement.

Representational image. Agencies.Representational image. Agencies.

Representational image. Agencies.

Three soldiers were killed and the body of one of them was mutilated when infiltrators had ambushed an army patrol in the Machhil sector on 22 November.

The eatables and other items recovered from the area show the marking of “Pakistan Defense Force”, “Pakistan standard” and the night vision that bears the seal of “Government Property”, which is made by the US and used by the Pakistan army, the officer said.

“Three soldiers were killed in action on the LoC in Machhil. Body of one soldier mutilated, retribution will be heavy for this cowardly act,” Army had said after the killing. It was second incident of mutilation of soldier’s body in less than a month, triggering outrage.

On 28 October, aided by the cover fire by Pakistani Army, terrorists had crossed the LoC and killed an army jawan and mutilated his body in Machhil sector. One attacker was killed in that incident.

In June 2008, a soldier of the 2/8 Gorkha Rifles lost his way and was captured by a Pakistani Border Action Team (BAT) in Kel sector. His body was found beheaded few days later.

First Published On : Nov 28, 2016 22:17 IST

Nabha jailbreak not an exception: It’s high time Indian prisons took security seriously

Whether it’s a terror attack, a train accident or a jailbreak, we never learn our lessons. No matter how serious security lapses can get, incidents continue to happen, people lose their lives and life moves on, waiting for another incident to occur.

The felicity with which the Nabha jailbreak in Punjab was executed on Sunday — about 10 gunmen disguised as policemen tricked their way into the high-security prison and escaped with a Khalistani militant group commander Harminder Singh Mintoo and five others — seems laughable. It’s no laughing matter, though.

Coming close on the heels of Bhopal jailbreak, where eight SIMI (Students’ Islamic Movement of India) operatives allegedly escaped from the high-security ISO-certified central jail and were killed in an encounter on 31 October, it’s actually pretty serious.

According to the latest Prison Statistics India (PSI) report of the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) 2015, 200 inmates, including militants, terrorists, dreaded gangsters and petty criminals managed to escape from high-security jails from six states in the calendar year.

Security personnel and media outside Nabha Central Jail, which was stormed by armed men. PTI

Security personnel and media outside Nabha Central Jail, which was stormed by armed men. PTI

“In wake of the recent jailbreak in Bhopal, this one at Nabha speaks of the pathetic security system in Indian jails. There’s a general air of complacency and callousness in every prison in India, including the high-security ones where terrorists and underworld operatives have been kept. Each and every movement should be monitored, but that’s missing. Prison officials are mollycoddling with the inmates, giving a safe passage to the latter in escaping from jails,” quipped former director general of police (UP), Prakash Singh.

The PSI report further highlights that there had been 83 jailbreak incidents in the country between 2011 and 2015, with the highest 28 jailbreaks in 2011, followed by 26 in 2015. In this five-year period, Rajasthan accounted for 41 out of the 83 jailbreaks, followed by 14 in Uttar Pradesh and 5 in Madhya Pradesh. Out of 836 incidents of clashes in jails, close to 60 percent or 501 of these incidents were reported from jails in Delhi alone.

A performance audit report by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) in 2013 stated that there were 91 incidents of prisoners escaping from jails during 2007-2012. The CAG had indicted the prison administration for its lackadaisical approach towards securing its jails. The audit report also pointed out the malfunctioning of wireless sets and CCTVs — meant for maintaining security in jails.

The recent Bhopal jailbreak revealed that CCTV cameras were not functioning when the SIMI operatives allegedly scaled the 28-ft perimeter wall and escaped. Prior to this, adopting an identical modus operandi in October 2013, six SIMI operatives, accused of murder, dacoity and communal violence, broke open the ventilator of their barrack in the high-security Khandwa jail in Madhya Pradesh, scaled the wall and escaped.

“For the last two decades, I have been advocating for police reforms in India, including prison reform. I have written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, bringing it to his notice that it was he who in 2014 had enunciated the concept of SMART police, but two years down the line, there is a sense of disappointment because the change has not happened. I’m not trying to find fault with the central government, because police is a state subject. The decline in quality policing and deteriorating conditions of prisons has essentially been due to state political leadership,” added Singh, also former DGP, Border Security Force.

It was on 30 November 2014, while addressing DGP conference in Guwahati, that the prime minister came up with the concept of SMART police — police which would be strict and sensitive, modern and mobile, alert and accountable, reliable and responsible, and, tech-savvy and trained.

The political opponents in Punjab have launched a scathing attack on the state government after the jailbreak in Nabha.

“Law and order situation in the state has deteriorated to unprecedented levels under Badal regime, especially in the run-up to the Assembly polls. The jailbreak has triggered fears of revival of terrorism ahead of the polls in Punjab. The shocking brazenness with which the armed gangsters freed the dreaded Khalistani terrorist along with other convicts by walking into the high security jail, clearly shows the complicity at the highest levels,” said former chief minister and Punjab Congress chief Captain Amarinder Singh.

However, not ruling out the possibility of revival of Pakistan-backed Khalistan movement in Punjab, the security experts are more concerned about the lack of security in prisons that is paving the way for militants and hardened criminals to escape.

“Why blame Pakistan? It’s doing what it’s expected of them. Pathankot and Gurdaspur attacks revealed Pakistan’s desperation to create disturbances in Punjab after Jammu and Kashmir. Though it isn’t easy at present to revive pro-Khalistan movement in the state, Pakistan will try to exploit the situation during Punjab election. But the immediate concern is the series of jailbreaks taking place in the country. It speaks of the lack of manpower, deteriorating infrastructure, not following standard operating procedures (SOPs) by jail staff and absolute apathy towards having a foolproof security in prisons. When will we learn a lesson?” questioned security analyst Anil Kamboj.

Here are the major jail breaks in two decades:

1995: 43 LTTE cadres escaped from Tipu Mahal inside Vellore Fort after digging a 153-ft long tunnel.
1998: 78 prisoners escaped from the Nizamabad jail, taking advantage of mob strength and official laxity.
2000: 15 prisoners escaped from the Mahendragarh district jail in Haryana.
2001: 270 inmates, including hardened criminals, escaped from Bhuj jail in Gujarat, taking advantage of the earthquake that had rocked the state.
2002: 8 prisoners, two of them serving life sentences, escaped from Betiah divisional jail in Bihar’s West Champaran district after scaling the prison wall.
2005: 137 inmates escaped from Jehanabad jail in Bihar after a Maoist attack on the town.
2013: 6 SIMI operatives, accused of murder, dacoity and communal violence lodged in Khandwa jail in MP and scaled the wall to escape.
2015: 2 under-trials in one of the most high security prisons of India — Tihar jail scaled the wall, dug a tunnel through the boundary wall and escaped.

2016: 8 SIMI operatives allegedly escaped from the high-security Bhopal Central jail and were later killed in an alleged encounter with police on the outskirts of the city.

First Published On : Nov 28, 2016 07:55 IST

Najeeb Ahmad missing case: Show cause notices to 20 JNU students including Kanhaiya

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>JNU administration has issued show cause notices to 20 students including sedition accused Kanhaiya Kumar and Umar Khalid, seeking explanation for the alleged “illegal confinement” of Vice Chancellor and other officials in the varsity building.A group of agitating students had confined the VC and other senior officials in the administrative building for over 20 hours last month alleging inaction on the administration’s part in locating missing student Najeeb Ahmad. Najeeb (27), a student of School of Biotechnology and a native of Badaun in Uttar Pradesh, went missing on October 15 following an on-campus scuffle allegedly with the members of ABVP, the night before. “Twenty students including Kanhaiya and Umar have been sent notices over the illegal confinement and have been asked to depose before the Proctorial committee which is probing the issue after a complaint was received from the university’s Chief Security Officer,” a senior varsity official said. JNU students and teachers have been agitating against the university administration and Delhi Police for their failure to locate the missing student. On the directive of Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh to Delhi Police Commissioner Alok Kumar Verma, a SIT was formed last month to trace the missing student The SIT failed to get any actionable clues in the matter.The case was later transferred to Delhi Police’s Crime Branch. The university panel probing the incident of October 14 following which Najeeb went missing had found ABVP members guilty of assaulting him. However, no disciplinary action has been taken yet.

India call centre workers held for defrauding Americans

An probe is on in India after 19 call centre workers are held for allegedly defrauding US citizens

Army vows ‘retribution’ after three Indian soldiers killed, body of one mutilated on LoC

Tue, 22 Nov 2016-04:55pm , Srinagar , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Three Indian soldiers were killed and body of one of them was mutilated by Pakistan troops on the Line of Control in Machhal sector of Kashmir, the army said on Tuesday.This is the second such incident of mutilation of the body of an Indian soldier on the LoC since October 29.”Three soldiers killed in action on LC (Line of Control) in Machhal. Body of one soldier mutilated,” the Army said.It said the “retribution will be heavy for this cowardly act”.

Thane: Surgeon duped of Rs 13.50 lakh on pretext of son’s admission

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A civil surgeon from Palghar district was allegedly duped by three persons including a doctor to the tune of Rs 13.50 lakh, after they promised to secure admission of his son in a medical college at Chiplun, police said on Tuesday.Rajendra S Kelkar has alleged in the complaint that he was cheated by one of his friends doctor Avinash Lokhande from Sangli, one Mahesh Adate from Navi Mumbai (admission agent) and driver Sachin Surve.Police said an offence under IPC sections 420, 406, 507 and 34 has been registered against the trio with the Kasarwadavali police station in Thane and further probe is on. However, no arrests have been made so far in this connection, they said. Kelkar said that he wanted to get his son enrolled in MBBS with the college at Chiplun for which Lokhande offered assistance. Lokhande directed the victim to Adate (agent), who allegedly made a demand of Rs 18 lakh for the admission. The deal was later finalised for Rs 17 lakh.Accordingly, Kelkar made the full payment on different occasions in various tranches and sometimes through Surve (Adate’s driver). The payment was made between July 2 and 12, 2015.Later when he enquired about the admission in October 2015, he was informed that the admission was not possible as it was too late and the money paid by him would be refunded, police said.Adate, on being continuously pursued refunded a sum of Rs 3.50 lakh till October 2016. When the balance amount was sought, he asked the Kelkar to get the rest of his refund (Rs 13.50 lakh) from Lokhande following which he filed a complaint against the trio recently.

French prosecutor investigates alleged security breach linked to president | Reuters

PARIS The Paris prosecutor’s office said on Monday it had opened an investigation into whether documents left lying on President Francois Hollande’s desk in front of reporters constituted a breach of national security.The inquiry could be embarrassing for Hollande, days before he is expected to announce whether he will run for a second term in next spring’s presidential election. It relates to an article published in Le Monde newspaper on Aug. 24 in which two reporters recall a meeting with Hollande three years earlier, as he waited for U.S. President Barack Obama to decide whether to launch air strikes in Syria.The article later appeared in a book by the reporters, covering the period April 2012 to July 2016, when they met Hollande some 60 times. They describe being in his office with files and documents stamped “classified” lying on his desk.”Hollande consults one (document) in particular. We acquired a copy. Written the day before, Aug. 29, by his chief of staff. It details the timeline of the (French) raid. It’s the vade-mecum of the French intervention,” the article states.The reporters did not say how they obtained the copy.

They also publish extracts of the document in question detailing the operation that would have seen Rafale fighter jets from the French base in Abu Dhabi launching five Scalp missiles on Syrian bases if Hollande gave his go-ahead.The operation never went ahead as Obama eventually decided not to launch strikes.The official at the prosecutor’s office said the Ministry of Defence had been asked to confirm that the documents were classified and to check the extent to which they compromised national security.

The president’s office declined to comment.The investigation comes after opposition conservative lawmakers earlier this month started a process to activate Article 68 of the constitution, potentially allowing parliament to impeach the president, following other revelations in the same book, “A President Shouldn’t Say That”.

The authors quoted Hollande as saying in October 2015 that he had authorised four targeted killings. He appeared to backtrack a month later by saying formal clearance was not given in such cases, but only suggestions to go ahead with a hit.Parliamentary party leaders are due to decide on whether to continue the process on Wednesday, although it is not expected to go much further.Government spokesman Stephane Le Foll, a key Hollande ally, has previously said neither incident breached national security. (Reporting by John Irish and Gerard Bon; additional reporting by Jean-Baptiste Vey; editing by Andrew Roche)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

First Published On : Nov 22, 2016 01:27 IST

JNU missing student row: Students Islamic Organisation seeks action against Najeeb Ahmed’s assaulters

New Delhi: Members of the Students Islamic Organisation (SIO) of India held a protest march on Monday demanding action against those who assaulted Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) scholar Najeeb Ahmed prior to his disappearance in October.

The protesters, who included students from JNU, Jamia Milia Islamia and Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), among others, were accompanied by Ahmed’s mother Fateema Nafees.

Representational image. Image courtesy: News18

Representational image. Image courtesy: News18

“We want JNU authorities to punish the three students — Vikrant, Sunil and Ankit — for assaulting Ahmed, a fact which has been acknowledged in the Proctorial inquiry as well,” Sadat Hussain, an SIO member from JNU told IANS.

The SIO is the students’ wing of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind.

“We also condemn the police for still not being able to find Ahmed, who is missing for 36 days now,” Hussain added.

Najeeb Ahmed, a first-year MSc student at the School of Biotechnology in JNU, reportedly went missing after allegedly being beaten up by some students comprising ABVP members, who had gone campaigning to his room for hostel elections on the intervening night of 14-15 October.

A Proctorial Inquiry formed to identify the assailants had found at least one student named Vikrant to be guilty of assaulting Ahmed. He was served a showcause notice on 7 November and asked to reply within seven days.

Another student told IANS that apart from seeking justice for Najeeb, this protest is also against the changing face of the nation under the current dispensation.

“This protest is against fascist forces, against Una lynching and fake Bhopal encounter,” he said.

The protesters marched from Mandi House to Jantar Mantar where Communist Party of India (Marxist) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury, along with several other political leaders and members of civil society, was scheduled to address them.

First Published On : Nov 21, 2016 18:39 IST

Liquor ban: Bihar govt seeks transfer of cases from Patna High Court

New Delhi: The Bihar government on Monday moved the Supreme Court seeking transfer of all the matters relating to its law banning sale and consumption of all types of liquor, which are pending before the Patna High Court to the apex court.

A bench of Justices Dipak Misra and Amitava Roy asked senior counsel Rajeev Dhavan, who was appearing for the state, to move a proper transfer petition in this regard.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

Dhavan, assisted by advocate Keshav Mohan, told the bench that the apex court had on 7 October stayed the operation of Patna High Court’s judgement quashing the law banning sale and consumption of all types of liquor in the state and a number of petitions related to the matter were pending before the high court.

“A number of cases have been filed and they are pending before the high court. Let all the matters be transferred to the Supreme Court,” he said.

To this, the bench said, “You must file a proper transfer petition.”

The court told Dhavan that the state government could mention the matter before the bench after filing the transfer petition. The bench had earlier issued notice to all respondents including some liquor manufacturers on whose plea the high court had held as illegal and unconstitutional the Bihar government’s prohibition law.

The state government has challenged the high court verdict of 30 September quashing the notification banning consumption and sale of liquor in the state, saying it was ultra vires to the Constitution. However, after the law was set aside by the high court, the Nitish Kumar government had came out with a new law banning sale and consumption of liquor, which was notified on Gandhi Jayanti day on 2 October.

The Bihar government in its petition had urged the apex court to stay the high court order which had quashed the 5 April notification to ban liquor. It had notified the Bihar Prohibition and Excise Act, 2016
to ensure that the ban on sale and consumption of alcohol including Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) as well spiced and domestic liquor, continued in the state.

The high court order was passed on a batch of petitions filed by the Liquor Trade Association and others, challenging the liquor law brought in with stringent penal provisions.

Soon thereafter, the state government brought in the new law banning liquor, including harsher provisions like arrest of all adults in a house where contraband was found.

The Grand Secular Alliance government in Bihar had first banned manufacture, trade, sale and consumption of country-made liquor since 1 April, but later imposed a blanket ban on all types of liquor, including foreign liquor, in the state.

First Published On : Nov 21, 2016 18:02 IST

Demonetisation: Brokerage, rating firms see India’s GDP growth taking hit in next few quarters

The cash crunch arising out of demonetisation is expected to paralyse economic activity in the short-term, and the 2017-18 GDP growth is likely to take a hit, analysts said.

According to a report by Ambit Capital, GDP growth is likely to decelerate from 6.4 percent in first half of this fiscal to 0.5 percent in the second half with a distinct possibility of GDP growth contracting in third quarter of this fiscal.



From October-December 2016 until October-December 2019, Ambit Capital expects a strong ‘formalisation effect’ to play out as nearly half of the non-tax paying businesses in the informal sector (40 percent share in GDP) become unviable and cede market share to their organised sector counterparts.

“We expect this dynamic to crimp GDP growth in India in FY18 as well and hence we cut our FY18 GDP growth estimate to 5.8 percent (from 7.3 percent),” the report said.

The demonetisation move is expected to disrupt economic activity in the short term, especially those segments where cash-based transactions are the norm like real estate, unsecured lending, real estate construction services and building materials.

“Whilst in the near-term, we expect these businesses to suffer, over the next couple of years the strongest players in these sectors will gain market share as competition from unscrupulous/unorganised players reduces,” the report added.

A report by Care Ratings titled ‘Impact of demonetisation on GDP growth in FY17’, said, the services sector is expected to be affected the most in these economic activities. Importantly, these losses, due to their inherent nature, can’t be recovered in the next quarter. For rest of manufacturing, demand side issues would exist till such times conditions stabilize and could get reversed in Q4. Hence, Industry is also expected to be impacted which will be more significant in the first 2-3 weeks post the announcement.

While consumer goods’ companies are also feeling the impact right now, with tight liquidity in the markets, the demand is likely to come back by next quarter. “Losses incurred would be recovered in the next quarter, particularly for consumer goods where there would be only deferment of purchase.

Even the SMEs industry will have a major problem in adjusting production schedules as both payments and receipts flow in cash given their structures.

According to the Care Ratings’ report, as per initial estimate, overall GDP growth would be affected by 0.3-0.5 percent.

“As a response to the slowing GDP growth, we expect the RBI to consider rate cuts of 25-50 bps over the second half of FY17 itself,” the Ambit said.

The Monetary Policy Committee headed by RBI Governor Urjit Patel last month cut benchmark interest rates by 0.25 percent to 6.25 percent. The next RBI policy review is on 7 December.

Foreign brokerage Bank of America-Merrill Lynch sees the demonetisation exercise impacting the country’s growth in the next two quarters, and estimates GDP to fall by 50 basis points.

“The economy has had a heart attack this quarter. We expect the impact of this to resonate for at least two quarters, impacting GDP by 50 basis points for the fiscal year,” The Economic Times report said quoting Indranil Sen Gupta, chief India economist at Bank of America-Merrill Lynch.

Rating agency ICRA has cut GDP forecast by 40 basis points, while HDFC Bank trimmed growth estimates to 7.3 percent from 7.8 percent earlier. Another credit rating firm Crisil, which earlier estimated GDP growth at 7.5 percent, now sees downside risk from the demonetisation move.

With PTI inputs

First Published On : Nov 19, 2016 11:05 IST

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