NEW DELHI: The government is learnt to have cleared the names of four judges for their elevation to the Supreme Court, sources said Wednesday.Once the appointments formally come through, the top court will have its full sanctioned strength of 31 judges (including the chief justice). As of now, the apex court is functioning with 27 judges. The four names cleared by the government are justices Aniruddha Bose, A S Bopanna, B R Gavai and Surya Kant. Also Read – Dussehra with a ‘green’ twistThe names of justices Bose and Bopanna were earlier returned by the government to the SC collegium citing seniority and representation of regions as the reasons. But in its resolution passed earlier this month, the collegium had reiterated its recommendation to elevate justices Bose and Bopanna to the apex court, observing that nothing adverse has been found regarding their competence, conduct or integrity. The collegium had also recommended the names of justices B R Gavai and Surya Kant for elevation to the apex court. Also Read – India receives its first Rafale fighter jet from FranceThe five-member Collegium is headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi. Sources aware of the development said the notification is expected either Wednesday evening or on Thursday morning once the President signs their warrant of appointment. Justice Bose, whose parent high court is Calcutta, is the Chief Justice of Jharkhand High Court and is at number 12 in all-India seniority of judges. Justice Bopanna, whose parent high court is Karnataka, is the Gauhati High Court Chief Justice and stands at number 36. Justice Gavai is a judge of the Bombay High Court and Justice Kant is the incumbent Chief Justice of the Himachal Pradesh High Court. Last year, the government had locked horns with the judiciary, refusing to clear the name of Justice KM Joseph for elevation to the top court. But the government was forced to accept his elevation when the collegium reasserted its choice and Justice Joseph took oath in August last year.
New Delhi: It was a horrific and gory scene for the two brothers of Sandesh after seeing his body parts chopped into pieces. “It is my brother’s head,” said Aadesh, deceased’s brother, after one of the polythene bags containing Sandesh body parts was opened. He told Millennium Post that last time his brother came to his house to take food items to feed pigeons. “My brother used to tell me about the problems he is facing,” said Aadesh. The body was in horrific condition. “From the shop, his legs and other parts were recovered whereas his head was kept in his son’s room,” added Aadesh. Also Read – Cylinder blast kills mother and daughter in Karawal NagarThe family members on Wednesday protested in front of the deceased’s house and demanded a fair probe in the case. “We got suspected when Sandesh did not open his shop on Tuesday,” said another brother Rakesh. His son Aman who killed his father did not allow him to check the room. “When we discovered plastic bags in the shop, Aman told me that it was his friend’s things but later my brother’s body parts recovered in pieces from bags,” said Rakesh. Also Read – Two persons arrested for killing manager of Muthoot FinanceAadesh further said that police took Aman and his friend Ayush to the second floor. “Aman said that he had kept his father’s other body parts in polythene. It was horrific,” added Aadesh. After his head was taken out Aadesh was shocked. “Yes it was my brother’s head,” said Aadesh who was angry with Aman. Later deceased’s son informed the police that he had kept his father’s clothes in a steel box. Sandesh had two sons and Aman was the elder one. He also had a daughter. It is being suspected that Sandesh was killed on Monday. When Deputy Commissioner of Police (Shahdara) Meghna Yadav was asked whether it was a pre-planned murder, she said that it happened in the fit of rage. In the first four months of 2019, as many as 164 murders were reported in different parts of the National Capital. The investigating agency said that enmity and disputes were the main reasons behind most of these murders. “As many as 83 murders were the result of enmity or disputes,” data said.
New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Saturday asked the Centre and the Delhi government why revised pay scales for Public Prosecutors in the national capital had been not considered and granted. A Division Bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice Brijesh Sethi also asked the Centre and the Delhi government to file an affidavit in this regard by July 25, the next date of hearing. The bench was hearing an intervention application filed by around 40 Assistant Public Prosecutors, including Jamshed Ansari, who sought compliance of a September 3, 2009 order for revision of salaries of Assistant Public Prosecutors (APP). Also Read – Cylinder blast kills mother and daughter in Karawal Nagar On the High Court’s direction in September 2015, the Delhi Cabinet had approved revision of pay scale of officers working under the Directorate of Prosecution on September 1, 2015. However, the court observed that revision of pay scales of the Prosecutors has not been implemented. “As far as compliance of the directions issued by this Court vide order dated September 3, 2015 and subsequent order dated February 1, 2019, in the matter of granting revision of pay scales to the prosecutors as recommended by the government of Delhi is concerned, the same has not been implemented,” it said. Also Read – Two persons arrested for killing manager of Muthoot Finance The court was informed that a committee constituted by the Centre to look into the Delhi government’s recommendations had accepted those for certain posts leaving out some others such as APP. The court clarified that as per the Supreme Court order, services of the prosecutors in Delhi come under the purview of the Delhi government and the Centre was therefore bound to implement the Delhi Cabinet’s decision in its totality. “Accordingly, we direct the Union of India (UOI) to do so and issue an appropriate notification within one month from today. Needless to mention that the UOI shall extend all the benefits to the prosecutors as recommended by the government of the NCT of Delhi,” the bench said. Prosecutor Ansari informed the bench that in 2009, Delhi High Court initiated suo motu petition on the poor condition of Public Prosecutors in Delhi. The court was also informed that one of the causes for delay in disposal of the cases with regard to undertrials was the shortage of Public Prosecutors as well as infrastructure facilities and supporting staff for them, which were woefully inadequate.
New Delhi: Governments asset monetisation programme involving development and sale of surplus land parcel and other non-core assets of public sector enterprises (PSEs) is expected to be big focus of Budget 2019-20 that is constrained to look at various innovative models to mobilise additional resources amidst a slowing economy. Senior government officials said that the new asset monetisation programme will hinge on a two-pronged strategy. One involving strategic sale of loss making and defunct PSEs sitting on large tracts of land that could be commercially utilised. Also Read – Maruti cuts production for 8th straight month in Sep The second part of the strategy will be to get even existing profit making PSEs such as ONGC, NTPC, SAIL, BHEL, Airports Authority of India (AAI), PowerGrid, to sell some of their non-core assets, including manufacturing units and surplus land to realise funds that could be invested in new projects where private investments is not forthcoming. The government will benefit from such exercise as portion of gains from such sale by PSUs will be recouped to it by way of higher dividend pay-out. Also, it will receive a portion of the commission charged by state-run construction company NBCC Ltd that may get mandate to auction some of the PSU assets. DIPAM has also sought Expression of Interests (EoI) from international property consultancy firms to offer advisory services in its CPSE land and building asset monetisation drive. Also Read – Ensure strict implementation on ban of import of e-cigarettes: revenue to Customs “There are huge tracts of land in prime areas that could realise good commercial value on sale. Some of the land parcels are with loss making and defunct PSEs that could offer good revenue to the government under the strategic sale route. A portion of this land can also be used for making affordable housing for poor,” said a government official asking not to be named. “Though the asset monetisation scheme was announced in 2016, it never took off due to differences over the scale and end use of such assets. Moreover, the earlier plan weighted heavily on involving NBCC to facilitate quick monetisation of assets. But this was not the right path to take,” the official added. The renewed focus on asset monetisation this year will active participation of both NBCC and international property consultants and other consultants selected through a competitive bidding process. On its part, DIPAM and Niti Aayog, the government’s think-tank, have already started the exercise to identify projects that would be put up under the scheme. The consultants would assess their valuation and decide on a mechanism to sell them. The plan could take up land parcels such as surplus land available with NTPC on its now closed Badarpur power plant in Delhi. Though an eco-park is proposed over 884 acre of land, sources said some way to commercialise extract the prime land could be explored. Also, erstwhile Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd’s (VSNLs) surplus land measuring 773.13 acres located at five locations in four cities, namely, Pune, Kolkata, New Delhi and Chennai could also be put up under asset monetisation. Last year, the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) had approved a scheme which cleared the way to de-merge surplus land of nearly 773 acres from Tata Comm that bought VSNL in an earlier disinvestment round, settling a 16 year old matter. At a meeting of officials from DIPAM, Niti Aayog, oil ministry and other departments recently, a decision has been taken to monetise non-core assets of ONGC and BPCL. This will involve sale of the sports club owned by Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL) in Chembur, Mumbai and few of the golf courses of ONGC with priority sale of two at Ahmedabad and Vadodara being located on prime land. ONGC also owns a few more golf courses — in Ankleshwar (Gujarat), Rajahmundry (Andhra Pradesh) and one in Assam. Moreover, six CPSEs, including IDPL, HMT, Hindustan Antibiotics, Scooters India and Tungabhadra Steel Products, have more than 3,000 acres of prime land that may be monetised. The entire sale proceeds from these loss-making entities would flow to the Centre. Huge land parcels are also available with Port Trusts. The whole plan on asset monetisation is being finalised based on its success in the highway sector where National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) has been successful in getting good investor interest in some of its operational road projects. In fact, Niti Aayog has favoured reverse BOT (build, operate and transfer) model for all state-run infrastructure projects so that these projects are sold out and allowed to be run by the private sector. While the government seems determined to move ahead with its innovative idea that found its place first in then Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s budget speech of 2016, a few PSU heads are not comfortable with the idea to hand over projects build with their sweat on a platter to the private sector. “We should look at finding buyers for some of our idle and deadwood projects rather than handing over those where PSUs have worked hard to get clearances and create a market,” said a PSUs head not wishing to be named. NTPC is already looking at selling or closing down some of its old power plants that have depleted value for it. For SAIL, the plan is to identify private sector investors for its loss-making units.
New Delhi: A Parliamentary panel has directed Delhi Police to pursue criminal cases filed in connection with a snooping case on then Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Arun Jaitley, while maintaining that accessing call data records (CDRs) of legislators would amount to breach of privilege only if it hindered their parliamentary functions. The Committee of Privileges chaired by Harivansh, also the deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha, found no evidence in the matter of unauthorised access of CDRs of mobile phones of Arun Jaitley to suggest that the motive of the accused persons in the case was to get information about his Parliamentary functions or to create any impediments in this regard. Also Read – How a psychopath killer hid behind the mask of a devout laity! “Therefore, the Committee reiterates its opinion given in the Sixty-first report to the effect that in the given facts and circumstances of the case, there was no breach of privilege of either Arun Jaitley, the then Leader of Opposition or of the House in that matter,” the Committee said in its report. A notice of breach of privilege was given on February 27, 2013, by some members of the Rajya Sabha on the alleged monitoring and surveillance of mobile phones of Arun Jaitley by Delhi Police personnel and some other individuals. Also Read – Encounter under way in Pulwama, militant killed In action taken in the case, the Delhi Police had filed charge sheet in the Court of Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, Patiala House here under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). It was later revealed in the probe that the main accused in the case was in touch with family members and businessmen belonging to big corporate entities. No link could, however, be found with any politician in the high profile snooping case. “The Committee, however, directs the Delhi Police through the Union Ministry of Home Affairs to pursue the criminal cases filed in the matter with all sincerity so that the guilty persons could be punished and inform its outcome of the judicial proceedings,” the House panel report said in its sixty-sixth report.
Kolkata: Parliamentary Affairs minister Partha Chatterjee said on Thursday that Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s attempt to check corruption within the administration has been maligned by the opposition parties in the state.While speaking in the Assembly, Chatterjee said: “Those who provide money and those who take them are equally responsible. Both of them deserve punishment. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has taken up a great initiative to fix the accountability on those who indulge in corruption. She has given a platform to raise the issues. The opposition parties are trying to malign the government by politicising the whole issue.” Also Read – Centuries-old Durga Pujas continue to be hit among revellersChatterjee added: “Some political parties are forming groups and trying to politicise a good initiative. They are roaming around with political flags to malign the government. It’s a gimmick to show the government in bad light by a party which has no agenda other than spreading religious fanaticism.” Meanwhile, the West Bengal Salaries and Allowances (Amendment) Bill, 2019, was passed in the Assembly with an object to increase the daily allowances of the council of ministers. It has been considered necessary to increase the daily allowances of the Speaker, the Deputy Speaker and the Leader of the Opposition as well. Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari PujaApart from this, the Bengal Legislative Assembly (Members’ Emoluments) (Amendment) Bill, 2019, was also passed in the Assembly on Thursday, with a view to hike the daily allowance of the members of the West Bengal Legislative Assembly. CPI(M) MLA Sujan Chakaraborty, during his speech in the Assembly, demanded that emoluments of the former MLAs be raised by the government. In reply to his demand, Chatterjee said that the state government has no such plans yet in this regard.
New Delhi: Global beverages major Coca-Cola Tuesday announced top-level changes in its India & South West Asia unit with appointment of Sarvita Sethi as Vice-President-M&A and New Ventures and Harsh Bhutani as Vice President – Finance (CFO). Sethi, who was earlier VP Finance India & South West Asia, in her new role will provide leadership to business incubation, Coca-Cola said in a statement. She will also continue to lead the M&A priorities for Coca-Cola’s business in India & South West Asia, it added. Also Read – Maruti cuts production for 8th straight month in Sep Both appointments will be effective from August 1, 2019. “We believe there are significant opportunities that lie ahead of us to grow our portfolio and meaningfully penetrate the market. It is our constant endeavour to strengthen the leadership team for a strong sustainable future growth,” said Coca-Cola India & South West Asia President T Krishnakumar. Sethi, a qualified chartered accountant, has worked across North Western Europe and Central and Southern Europe zones before her appointment in India & South West Asia unit. Bhutani, who is with Coca-Cola for over two decades, is currently heading Finance and Business Services verticals for its bottling arm Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages as Executive Director & Chief Financial Officer for over three years.
Mumbai: Union Minister Nitin Gadkari and Maharashtra Women and Children Development minister Pankaja Munde were on Sunday absent from the executive meeting of the state unit of the BJP. BJP working president JP Nadda, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and newly-appointed state unit chief Chandrakant Patil attended the meeting. Munde was scheduled to move a political resolution along with state Finance minister Sudhir Mungantiwar. Mungantiwar was present for the meeting despite being unwell for the past three days, Patil said. “He shouldn’t have strained himself but he still attended to move the political resolution,” he said. He said Munde could not attend as she was travelling abroad for her son’s college admission, while Gadkari, who was scheduled the address the gathering, had an important meeting.
NEW DELHI/MUMBAI: The Indian government wants the country’s antitrust body to assess whether the so-called “Big Four” auditing firms and their affiliates are hurting competition in any manner, a senior government official told reporters. The Competition Commission of India (CCI) needs to conduct a survey or an investigation to assess whether the Big Four that include PwC, EY, Deloitte and KPMG are abusing their dominant position in the Indian audit market, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. Also Read – Thermal coal import may surpass 200 MT this fiscalIndia’s Ministry of Corporate Affairs, which holds that view, is yet to send any formal request to the CCI to probe the matter, said the official. “If you look at the top 500 companies in India, they are totally dominant and the Big Four seem to be sharing the work … whatever be the reason there seems to be entry barriers,” the official told reporters. “The CCI should look into the dominance of these four global auditors and whether they are thwarting competition.” Also Read – Food grain output seen at 140.57 mt in current fiscal on monsoon boostThe CCI and the four auditors did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The Big Four do auditing work for almost 60 per cent of the top 500 companies that trade on India’s National Stock Exchange (NSE), according to corporate data tracker NSE Infobase. The deliberations around an antitrust review come at a time when the Big Four are facing increased scrutiny in India. Last year, all the local units of PwC were barred from auditing any listed companies for two years in India after a probe into a decade-old accounting fraud. An EY firm was also barred last month from conducting certain statutory audit assignments until April 2020. In the latest case, Deloitte Haskins & Sells and a KPMG affiliate are fighting a legal battle with the Ministry of Corporate Affairs which wants to ban them for five years on allegations they violated several auditing standards at Indian financial firm IFIN, a unit of troubled lender IL&FS. Both Deloitte and the KPMG affiliate deny any wrongdoing. The government has also alleged Deloitte offered services to IFIN in breach of company law that prohibit auditors from rendering certain other services. The official said India is considering whether to cap the revenue an accounting firm can earn by offering non-audit services to a firm it is auditing, and if there should be prohibition on an auditor’s parent firm offering tax advisory solutions. “We are studying the aspect of independence of auditors and various conflict of interest issues,” said the official. Currently, auditors are not allowed to earn more non-audit fees from companies they audit than their audit fees. An Indian government panel, however, has proposed limiting the non-audit fees to 50 per cent of the audit fees. A source at one of the Big Four said the non-audit services it provides to its audit clients are significantly below the current and proposed regulatory limits. Britain’s competition watchdog in April proposed some of the biggest reforms to auditing globally, recommending new laws to force the Big Four to separate their audit and consulting arms.
Mumbai: Actor Taapsee Pannu has revealed that she spent time with Chandro and Prakashi Tomar, subjects of her upcoming “Saand Ki Aankh”, to get into the skin of her character. “Saand Ki Aankh” follows the inspiring story of the world’s oldest sharpshotters, Chandro and Prakashi fondly known as the “Revolver Dadis”. Taapsee is portraying Prakashi in the Tushar Hiranandani-directed film, while Bhumi Pednekar is essaying the role of Chandro. Also Read – I have personal ambitions now: Priyanka To experience the village life first hand and get to know them personally, Taapsee stayed in their original home in the interiors of UP, to better understand the kind of lives the duo lead, and interacted with their family and neighbours. “It was the best experience for me so far. Living in Johri and spending time with these two ladies, who has strength and compassion was very inspiring. There were so many stories to hear from them and so much to learn,” Taapsee said in a statement. A lot of jewellery and outfits which the actor sports in the film have been borrowed from their actual wardrobe, the markers said. Produced by Reliance Entertainment, Anurag Kashyap, Nidhi Parmar and Chalk n Cheese Films, the film is scheduled to be released on Diwali.
Kolkata: Holding the Congress responsible for the fall of the Karnataka government, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Vice President Shivraj Singh Chouhan said on Wednesday that corruption and infighting could lead to the fall of the Kamal Nath-led dispensation in Madhya Pradesh, though the saffron party was “not interested” in toppling the regime. The former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister said that his party didn’t opt to stake claim to form the government in Madhya Pradesh after last year’s Assembly polls despite several parties and Independents offering their support. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM’ “Although we (BJP) had a higher vote share, neither us nor them (Congress) could reach the majority mark. Some smaller parties and Independents had made it clear to us that they were ready to back a BJP government, but I had then said that the Congress should be given the first opportunity to try and form a government,” Chouhan told mediapersons here. “Since the Kamal Nath ministry was formed, we have categorically said time and again that we are not interested in toppling it. But the infighting and corruption in the state government could lead to its downfall. And we cannot take responsibility for that,” he said. Also Read – Farooq demands unconditional release of all detainees in J&K Attacking the Congress for not respecting the coalition dharma, Chouhan said the BJP was not at all involved in the fall of the Congress-JD(S) government in Karnataka. “The Congress is responsible for the fall of the coalition government in Karnataka. We (BJP) had no role in it. If you study Congress’ history, you will find that they have never in the past respected the coalition dharma,” Chouhan said. He also said that stern action would be taken notwithstanding any party leader’s stature in connection with the Unnao rape case and pointed out that the BJP MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar, the prime accused in the case, has already been placed under suspension by the party and is in custody. “We would never tolerate such unethical, immoral and criminal activities in our party. Stern action will be taken, irrespective of the person and his stature,” he said. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has charged BJP legislator Sengar and nine others in connection with the truck-car collision in Uttar Pradesh’s Rae Bareli on July 28 which left the teenage girl, who alleged that Sengar had raped her in 2017, gravely injured besides killing two of her relatives. Taking pot shots at West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Chouhan said that appointing political strategist Prashant Kishor would not help a bit in lifting her party’s fortunes. Praising his party functionaries in West Bengal, Chouhan said that they were fighting the second struggle for independence.
Srinagar/ Jammu/ New Delhi: The Union Home Ministry said on Saturday that there had been a few stray protests in the Kashmir Valley in the past few days against the scrapping of special status of Jammu and Kashmir. “There have been a few stray protests in Srinagar/ Baramulla and none of these involved a crowd of more than 20 people,” a ministry spokesperson said.The spokesperson also dismissed a media report about a protest by about 10,000 people in Kashmir as “fabricated and incorrect”. The government abrogated provisions of Article 370 of the Constitution that accorded special status to Jammu and Kashmir and divided the state into two Union Territories — Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh. Also Read – India gets first tranche of Swiss bank a/c detailsPresident Ram Nath Kovind had on Saturday given assent to the legislation on J&K bifurcation and the new UTs will come into existence on October 31. Meanwhile, prohibitory orders under CrPC section 144 were lifted in five districts and curfew was relaxed in Doda and Kishtwar districts, paving the way for resumption of normal activities that were badly hit after special status of Jammu and Kashmir was abrogated, officials said on Saturday. All schools and colleges reopened in five districts of the Jammu region, besides increase in attendance in government offices, a senior official said. “All kind of restrictions in these five districts of Jammu, Kathua, Samba, Udhampur and Reasi have been withdrawn and all educational institutes have reopened.” He said that the situation is limping back to normalcy. All market places and shops reopened and traffic has resumed as normal in all these districts bringing much relief to the people. Friday prayers passed off peacefully.
New Delhi: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday hit out at the government over the record cash transfer by the RBI, saying the prime minister and the finance minister are “clueless” about solving the “self created economic disaster” and accused them of “stealing money” from the Bank. He also said that the move was akin to stealing a Band-Aid from the dispensary and sticking it on a gunshot wound. Gandhi’s reaction came after the RBI allowed the government to take Rs 1.76 lakh crore from its reserves to provide a fresh impetus to the economy. Also Read – India gets first tranche of Swiss bank a/c details “PM and FM are clueless about how to solve their self created economic disaster,” he charged on Twitter. “Stealing from RBI won’t work – it’s like stealing a Band-Aid from the dispensary and sticking it on a gunshot wound,” he said, using the hashtag “#RBILooted”. In a separate tweet, Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala wondered whether the move was “fiscal prudence or fiscal hara-kiri”. He also wondered if it was coincidence that the Rs 1.76 lakh crore borrowed by the RBI matches with the “missing amount” in the budget calculations. Also Read – Tourists to be allowed in J&K from Thursday “Is it a sheer coincidence that the Rs 1.76 Lakh Crore borrowed by RBI matches with the ‘Missing’ amount in the Budget Calculations,” he asked. “Is this fiscal prudence or fiscal hara-kiri? Will this Rs 1.76 Lakh Crore be used to save BJP’s crony friends,”he also asked. The Congress leader attached a media report on “the mystery of the ‘missing’ Rs 1.7 Lakh Crore in India’s budget”. His party colleague and spokesperson Sanjay Jha said in a tweet, “Robbed Bank of India: RBI.”
Chennai: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Sunday allayed fears of job losses following the proposed merger of public sector banks, saying not even one employee shall be removed following the amalgamation. “Absolutely, ill informed. I want to assure every union in every one of these banks to please recall what I have said last Friday. When we spoke about amalgamation of banks I have very clearly underlined the fact that there shall not be one employee removed. Not at all”, she told reporters here. Also Read – India gets first tranche of Swiss bank a/c details She was replying to a question on the bank employees unions opposing the merger plan on the ground it would lead to loss of jobs. Sitharaman on Friday unveiled a mega plan to merge 10 public sector banks into four as part of plans to create fewer and stronger global-sized lenders as the government looked to boost economic growth from a five-year low. Sitharaman, who was here to address officers of Customs, Goods and Service Tax and Income Tax department, said there would not be any closure of banks and no bank was being asked to do something new. Also Read – Tourists to be allowed in J&K from Thursday “More capital is being given to banks and they will continue to do more of what they were doing earlier,”she said. On August 23, Sitharaman had announced a raft of measures to boost the economy, including capital infusion of Rs 70,000 crore into public sector banks. She had also unveiled a mega plan on Friday to merge 10 public sector banks into four to create fewer and stronger global-sized lenders The All India Bank Employees’ Union had alleged that Indian Bank may face closure following its merger with Allahabad Bank. To a question on this, Sitharaman said Indian Bank would be the anchor bank after the merger. She said when a bank receives capital, it is for them to function more of what they were expected to do as core business, which was to attract business and lend. “Second, another bank in this region is Indian Overseas Bank which continues without any amalgamation added to it. It is also something you should keep in mind”, she said. Asked whether there was any slowdown in the economy, she said the government was responding to it sectorally, based on their requirement. “Every sector of the Indian economy, when it approaches us, we hear them out for solutions that they want and we respond to it. Suggestions (from them) and what would they want and what they expect from the government of India and I respond to them. I have already done (it) twice and I will do so more number of times. Every industry which has approached me I will respond”, she said. Citing an example, she said the automobile sector was in a transition phase to produce engines and components meeting BS-VI fuel norms (from the earlier BS-IV), which comes into effect from April 1,2020. The Minister said it was not the union government’s decision, but a Supreme Court order two years ago that automobile companies shall not produce any BS-IV vehicle after March 31 2020, be it scooters or any other vehicle. To a query about the automobile industry seeking a Goods and Service Tax rate cut, she said it should be decided by the GST Council. Asked what was her message to people who had lost their jobs and those fearing job losses, Sitharaman said, “I can only say we are responding to the industry requirements. Across the board there is no one particular answer that I can give, saying this is the magic wand. Sectorally, what they want, we are responding,” she said. Sitharaman said the government understands that the contours and tone of issues for each sector varied from one to the other. “The automobile (sector) has an issue, agriculture has a different issue. So each sector has a sectorial requirement which we want to respond”, she said.
Tradition with innovation has been the mantra of Khadi’s growth in recent past, and it was reflected on September 2 again, when Khadi and Village Industries Commission, for the first time in the history of pottery, launched a ‘Terracotta Grinder’ at Sewapuri in Varanasi. This machine would grind the wasted potter items, for re-using it in pottery-making.KVIC Chairman Vinai Kumar Saxena, who himself contemplated and designed this ‘Terracotta Grinder’, said that taking cognizance of the broken pottery items like Kulhads, plates and pitchers etc, a need to re-use it in a proper manner was urgently felt. “During my visit to potters-dominated Kesripur village in Varanasi last month, I saw the numerous heaps of wasted terracotta items at every nook and corner of the village. After that, I suggested Chandan Prajapati – one of the young potters of Kesripur – to grind the broken and wasted terracotta products, to re-use it mixing with the normal clay. Accordingly, wasted pottery items were grinded in normal khal-musal (mortar and pestle) and its fine powder was mixed with the normal clay in the ratio of 20:80,” he said, adding, “Incidentally, Chandan’s whole family is in the pottery vocation, including his father – a veteran potter – outrightly denied the possibility of re-using the powder in making terracotta products.” Also Read – An income drop can harm brainHowever, on KVIC Chairman’s insistence the powder was mixed with the normal clay in the stipulated ratio and kulhads and other pottery items were made on the Electric Potter Wheels, given by the KVIC. The villagers were surprised that the pottery items made from this mixture were not only perfect, but were also stronger to sustain. “After the success of this experiment and the satisfaction of the potters, I designed a grinder that can be used at a larger level with lower costing. I gave the design of this ‘Terracotta Grinder’ to a Rajkot-based engineering unit to fabricate it,” he said, adding, “It will be a boon for potters in many ways. At one hand, it will lessen their cost of production; on the other hand, it will also save them from the problem of dearth of clays. As the cost of one tractor trolley of clay is Rs 2,600 in Varanasi, with mixing of 20 percent of this wasted terracotta powder, the potter will save at least Rs 520 in it. It will also create more job opportunities in the villages from this machine.” On this occasion, KVIC Chairman also distributed 200 Electric Potter Wheels and other pottery machines among the villagers.
OTTAWA – Federal NDP leadership contender Niki Ashton is rejecting an endorsement from a supporter who’s been accused of holding anti-Semitic views, including denying the atrocities of the Holocaust.Ashton says she “in no way” supports such views and does “not accept support from people who hold such views.”Ashton posed for a photo with Nazih Khatatba at a fundraiser in Mississauga, Ont., earlier this month hosted by the Palestine Aid Society.Khatatba subsequently used the photo in an endorsement of Ashton on Facebook; she also got a front page endorsement in an Arabic language newspaper edited by Khatatba.B’nai Brith Canada, which is dedicated to combating anti-Semitism, drew Ashton’s attention to what it says is Khatatba’s long history of anti-Semitism.The group says Khatatba has called Jewish suffering “a fairy tale” and has denied the extermination of millions of Jews by Nazis during the Holocaust.B’nai Brith also says the newspaper Khatatba edits has supported acts of terrorism, including a 2014 massacre at a Jerusalem synagogue in which one Canadian citizen was among those killed.
Cannabis activists say that while they’ve succeeded in helping to push for marijuana legalization across the country, their work is far from over.The federal government has committed to making recreational cannabis legal by July 1, 2018, but has tasked provincial governments with establishing their own business and regulatory models that will make the new legislation a reality.Activists say they need only look at the early versions of provincial plans to find targets for future campaigns.They say provinces such as Ontario, which plans to levy fines of up to $1 million on businesses that illegally sell recreational weed, are wrong to try and monopolize marijuana sales and should allow storefront dispensaries to operate.Others say they plan to crusade for medical marijuana users, who they feel are being left behind as legalization moves ahead.Still more say their efforts will involve pushing for relaxed consumption rules, such as marijuana licenses for restaurants and other public spaces.While nearly all see the proposed legislative frameworks as flawed, they do believe legalization will allow a previously marginalized group a more prominent place in the conversation around cannabis use.Lisa Campbell of the Ontario Cannabis Consumer Retail Alliance said marijuana activists were once shunned for the cause they championed and were even actively excluded from governmental consultation processes.Once recreational cannabis is legal, however, she said she and others will push to work directly with government to shape more effective policies on everything from dispensaries to the availability of edible products.“I think we’re seeing a lot of potential for engaging policy-makers so that whatever the next government is in Ontario, they have some sound, evidence-based policy to move forward.”Campbell said she and others have already teamed up with official lobbyist organizations to ensure they have a seat at the table the next time policy matters come up for discussion.For Abi Roach, owner of a cannabis lounge in Toronto, the fight will centre on an effort to create safe public spaces for cannabis consumption.Ontario’s current proposals ban the use of recreational marijuana in public spaces or workplaces, shutting the door on the possibility of licensing establishments to offer cannabis on the premises.Roach takes exception to the approach, fearing it will put cannabis users at risk. Lounges and other such businesses can educate customers on safe cannabis use and steer them toward safer consumption alternatives such as using vapourizers, she said.Opportunities to educate customers are plentiful, she said, since lounges typically don’t sell cannabis and focus instead on helping customers enjoy the product in comfort and safety.She said she and like-minded advocates will be pushing the harm-reduction aspects of their cause once cannabis is legalized. For now, though, she said she sees her day job running the Hotbox Cafe as the best form of advocacy she can perform.“The biggest activism that I do is opening the door to my shop every morning and serving my first customer,” she said.Medical marijuana use will be the focus for Toronto-based advocate Tania Cyalume, who feels emerging legislation has overlooked their needs.She said storefront dispensaries staffed by knowledgeable employees are essential for medical patients, adding a government-controlled cannabis retailer, like the ones proposed for Ontario and New Brunswick, won’t be able to address the clientele’s more complex needs.Cyalume said she plans to push for looser regulations on dispensaries, which the Ontario government has “officially put on notice,” but said she also hopes to speak up for cannabis users who can’t often advocate for themselves.“It’s really hard for sick people, for example with anxiety or agorophobia, they’re not going to come and advocate for their own use,” she said. “I feel they’re misrepresented in terms of advocacy.”Activism efforts may be confined to the grass-roots level in the early days of legalization, but Vancouver-based advocate Dana Larsen said he foresees more public efforts in the years ahead as people adjust to the new regulations and stake out new battlegrounds.“By 2019, I expect that there will be several cases in the court trying to change the cannabis laws,” he said.Court proceedings will only be one piece of the puzzle, he said, adding those bent on change can also lobby governments, stage civil disruptions or run for public office themselves.
OTTAWA – The Canada Revenue Agency is seeking information from three Canadian banks about customer transactions linked to a major Israeli financial institution as part of a federal crackdown on offshore tax evaders.Newly filed court records reveal the agency wants to see account records associated with Bank Hapoalim to determine whether Canadians are hiding income or assets.The Federal Court of Canada filings come amid renewed public pressure on the government to show it is taking steps to find and penalize Canadians who improperly use offshore accounts to avoid taxes.Like many foreign banks, Bank Hapoalim has correspondent accounts in Canada to conduct Canadian dollar transactions on behalf of its customers, the revenue agency says. The bank operates in Israel and is affiliated with other financial services companies in Switzerland, Luxembourg, the United States and the Cayman Islands.The agency is asking the Bank of Montreal, Royal Bank and Toronto-Dominion Bank for records of deposits, cheques and electronic funds transfers associated with Bank Hapoalim’s correspondent accounts from April 1, 2011, to Sept. 30, 2017.The records will be reviewed and analyzed under the direction of the agency’s offshore compliance section and, where warranted, lead to formal audits.Stephanie Henderson, manager of the section, says in an affidavit the agency is aware of Canadian taxpayers who have previously used Bank Hapoalim “to conceal income and assets,” shielding offshore activities from the taxman.Through one audit, the agency became aware of a Canadian taxpayer who maintained bank and investment accounts for over 10 years at Bank Hapoalim in U.S., Canadian and Israeli currencies, Henderson says. “This taxpayer failed to report the interest income earned on account balances and neglected to disclose assets held offshore totalling approximately $11 million.”In another case, a Canadian had bank and investment accounts with Bank Hapoalim and failed to report $1.5 million in income and approximately $5 million in reportable offshore assets.The agency has also learned of offshore activities in Bank Hapoalim through the federal voluntary disclosure program, which gives people a second chance to file a tax return and ask for relief from penalties.From April 1, 2015, through March 31 of this year, 114 Canadian taxpayers made voluntary disclosures involving the Israeli bank, Henderson says. The disclosures covered $59 million in unreported income — such as interest, dividends and capital gains — resulting in $17 million in federal taxes.Since January 2015, the agency has been able to tap into a new stream of information through mandatory reporting of international electronic funds transfers of $10,000 or more.Some of these transactions entailed Canadian taxpayers closing their accounts at Bank Hapoalim’s subsidiary in Switzerland and transferring the funds to other financial institutions outside Canada, Henderson’s affidavit says. Other dealings involved Canadians moving funds from the bank in Israel to accounts in Canada or other Bank Hapoalim branches internationally.In a number of these instances, the individuals “may not have reported sufficient income or disclosed sufficient offshore assets in Canada” to justify the size of the transactions, she adds.The revenue agency wants to see whether other, as yet unidentified, Canadian taxpayers have similarly used Bank Hapoalim’s correspondent accounts to transfer funds to or from Canada.Last year, the Federal Court approved the revenue agency’s requests for seven years’ worth of transaction information from the Royal Bank and Citibank, N.A., related to accounts in the name of Cayman National Bank Ltd.Henderson’s affidavit says the information led to audits that uncovered attempts to avoid paying tax in Canada.— Follow @JimBronskill on Twitter
SHANGHAI – It was 8 p.m. on Jan. 29, 2017, and Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard was at home in Saint-Felicien when he received a phone call about a shooting at a mosque in the provincial capital.A gunman had entered the Islamic cultural centre of Quebec City during evening prayer and killed six men while injuring 19 other people, five seriously.“I immediately assumed there was an element there of a hate crime, or a terrorist act, given the context,” Couillard said in an interview Thursday in Shanghai, China, where he is on a trade mission.Couillard, speaking just days before the one-year anniversary of the shooting, said he quickly understood the immensity of what had happened.“I realized it would be major, not just for Quebec, for Canada, but also that it would have ramifications beyond our borders,” he said. “I absolutely needed to reassure the population.”He headed to Quebec City that night and held a news conference.“It seemed to me excessively important to send a message to all Quebecers, first to Muslim Quebecers, who are certainly still traumatized today,” he said.“And the words I chose told them they were at home here, and I think that message needs to be repeated today.”The premier reiterated in the interview he opposes a Canadian Muslim organization’s call for the federal government to designate Jan. 29 — the anniversary of the shooting — as a national day against Islamophobia.Couillard said the state shouldn’t pick and choose which minority groups on which to focus when it comes to discrimination.“I think it’s preferable to mobilize around a day or a week of action, as is often done, to tackle racism and discrimination of all kinds,” he said. “There isn’t a kind of racism that is better or worse than another.”And on that point, Couillard said he doesn’t believe Quebec is worse than other societies or that Quebecers are more racist than other people.He did say Quebecers might be more “passionate” on the identity question.The one-year anniversary of the shooting will be commemorated over four days, beginning Friday.Events include a seminar, a film screening, an open house at the mosque where the tragedy occurred, and a vigil Monday evening.
STRATFORD, P.E.I. – The premier of P.E.I. says the damage caused by vandals who recently spray-painted a local church with homophobic slogans is sickening.Wade MacLauchlan posted a brief message on Twitter saying the graffiti on Our Lady of Assumption Church in Stratford, P.E.I., shakes the Island’s “sense of safety.”The RCMP issued a statement saying they believe the Roman Catholic church was vandalized during the overnight hours of Feb. 9.Messages spray painted on the church include “666 Satan Lives” as well as a message using a derogatory term for homosexuals saying God hates gays.The Mounties are appealing for anyone with information about the crime to call the Queens District RCMP or Crime Stoppers.MacLauchlan, the province’s first openly gay premier, says he first heard about the graffiti last Friday when he was visiting Phinley’s Diner and Dairy Bar in Stratford.“These actions are sickening and take away from the sense of safety of our Island communities,” he tweeted.