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ED probe extends to PC’s will for his granddaughter

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New Delhi, Nov 28 : The Enforcement Directorate told the Supreme Court on Thursday that it has begun a probe into former Union Minister P. Chidambaram’s wills made in favour of his granddaughter, after the Delhi High Court dismissed the former Finance Minister’s bail on November 15.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told a three-judge bench headed by Justice R. Banumathi that after the high court twice examined the judicial custody of Chidambaram, he wanted the court to deny him bail after studying all the facts brought before it.

“Moreover, the respondent (ED) has examined the petitioner-accused at least twice during the judicial custody, after the order of Delhi High Court.

“The petitioner was confronted with the rest of the evidence of illegal gratification in INX Media case, the wills made in favour of his granddaughter by the directors of ASCPL and the statements of the persons concerned in the case,” said the ED in its affidavit opposing Chidambaram bail.

During the course of the search and scrutiny of the digital data, it was revealed that directors and share-holders of Advantage Strategic Consulting Pvt Ltd (a “benami” company of the petitioner and his son), India (which is holding company of Advantage Strategic Consulting Singapore Pte. Ltd., Singapore) later on in the year 2013 transferred their entire share holding of M/s Advantage Strategic Consulting Pvt. Ltd. to the granddaughter of petitioner by way of a will.

“During the course of investigation when one of the co-conspirators was asked to produce original copy of the will, he stated in his statement 23.02.2018 that original copy of the will was destroyed at the instance of the son of petitioner (Karti P. Chidambaram, another conspirator)”, said the ED affidavit.

Mehta also told the apex court the investigating agency is also probing the complex web of shell companies, used for money laundering, all located outside the country, and 12 accounts and 12 properties in 16 foreign countries.

“The investigation in the present case is at a very crucial stage. Revealing the names of witnesses at this stage may hamper the investigation,” said ED in the affidavit.

Chidambaram was arrested by the CBI in the INX Media case on August 21. The CBI had registered an FIR on May 15, 2017, alleging corruption in approvals granted by the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) to the INX Media group for overseas fund of Rs 305 crore in 2007 during his tenure as Finance Minister.

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FM Sitharaman may push for Rs 30K cr interim dividend from RBI to meet low revenue generation, slowdown

The government is fighting a six year low growth, subdued demand and consumption leading to projections of 5 per cent growth in current fiscal which is an 11 year drop.

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Nirmala Sitharaman
RBI governor Shaktikanta Das and FM Nirmala Sitharaman RBI governor Shaktikanta Das and FM Nirmala Sitharaman and at the post-Budget meeting (Picture Credit DNA)

The Finance Ministry is likely to push for Rs 25,000-30,000 crore interim dividend from RBI, for the third time in a row, to check slippages in the fiscal deficit of 3.3 per cent in 2019-20.

The central bank and government may touch upon the issue when Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will meet RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das at post Budget Vision customary meeting.

Government has a Budget estimate of Rs 90,000 crore dividend from RBI in FY20. RBI follows a fiscal of July-June. The interim dividend of the RBI’s total dividend for 2019-20 (July-June) can help the government check 3.3 per cent fiscal deficit target slippage.

In the past RBI has paid a total Rs 38,000 crore as interim dividend (Rs 28,000 crore in FY19 and Rs 10,000 crore in FY18).

“If the RBI board recommends, then it will be the third time when interim payout will be given to the government,” said sources.

The central bank had paid Rs 28,000 crore as interim dividend from its 2018-19 fiscal accounts (July-June) in February, which helped the government contain deficit at 3.4 per cent in the last fiscal.

The Reserve Bank follows July-June financial year and usually distributes the dividend in August after annual accounts are finalised and interim dividends if any, they are given around February to the government.

Seeking interim dividends are not common. The Bimal Jalan-led committee on the RBI’s economic capital framework recommended in August that an interim dividend should be paid to the government only in “exceptional circumstances”.

The Finance Ministry’s contention is that this year has “exceptional circumstances” because of the slowdown, low revenue generation and outgo of Rs 1.45 lakh crore due to corporate tax cuts.

For 2018-19 (July-June), the RBI transferred a total of Rs 1.76 trillion to the central government, including a one-time transfer of Rs 52,637 crore which was deemed as excess reserves and comprising Rs 1,23,414 crore of surplus for the year 2018-19.

The government is fighting a six year low growth, subdued demand and consumption leading to projections of 5 per cent growth in current fiscal which is an 11 year drop.

On Monday, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) slashed India’s FY20 growth forecast to 4.8 per cent, besides trimming global outlook and said India’s slow growth is dragging down the world economy.

The Finance Ministry might seek the interim dividend from the RBI to meet some of the financial pressure due to the low revenue generation from taxes and disinvestment and slowdown, said the sources.

The RBI largely earns profits on its trading of currencies and government bonds. Part of these earnings are set aside by the RBI for its operational and contingency needs while the rest is transferred to the government in the form of dividends.

The Union Budget 2019-20 had pegged dividend or surplus of the RBI, nationalised banks and financial institutions at Rs 1.06 lakh crore up from Rs 74,140.37 crore realised in the previous fiscal.

(Anjana Das can be contacted at [email protected])

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JNUSU moves Delhi High Court against late fees

The plea was filed by JNUSU members including President Aishe Ghose, Vice President Saket Moon and others.

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JNU students protest outside campus
JNU students protest outside campus over Fees Hike

New Delhi, Jan 21 : The JNU Students’ Union has moved the Delhi High Court seeking direction of the court to restrain the Jawaharlal Nehru University administration from imposing late fees on students for registrations in winter semester 2020.

The plea was filed by JNUSU members including President Aishe Ghose, Vice President Saket Moon and others.

The plea also seeks directions to the varsity restraining it from taking any actions which would give effect to the draft hostel manual.

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Heroin worth approx Rs 100 cr seized in Kolkata

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Kolkata: In a major drug haul by Kolkata Police, heroin worth between Rs 75 crore to Rs 105 crore in the international market, was seized early on Tuesday and two persons were arrested, a senior officer said.

Acting on a tip off, the Special Task Force of the city police made the seizure from Paikpara under Tala police station between midnight and 2 a.m.

“We have seized about 25 kilogram of heroin. According to the grey market rates, the price range can be anything between Rs 75 crore to Rs 105 crore.

“We have also arrested two persons,” Deputy Commissioner, Special Task Force, Pradeep Kumar Yadav told IANS.

This is one of the biggest haul of opioid drug heroin in east and north east India in recent times.

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