GN Saibaba Acquitted By Bombay High Court, To Be Freed Immediately; Delhi Fined Rs 900 Crore For Raising Mountains Of Garbage
Foodgrain stocks at 5-year low, Indian students overseas more likely to stay on, flight smokes heavily as passengers pray, states differ on taxing paratha, who gets to wear the Kohinoor now?
A newsletter from The Wire & Galileo Ideas | Contributors: MK Venu, Seema Chishti, Siddharth Varadarajan, Sidharth Bhatia, Sushant Singh and Tanweer Alam | Editor: Pratik Kanjilal
Snapshot of the day
October 14, 2022
The Supreme Court has deferred hearing the case against opaque electoral bonds to December 6. The crucially important matter, pending since March 2021, was to be heard for the first time today by Justices BR Gavai and BV Nagarathna.
This morning, the Bombay High Court acquitted Prof GN Saibaba and five others in the Maoist links case. One of the accused died in August, and the rest are to be released immediately.
The Madras High Court has asked the state government to provide reservations for transgender persons in nursing courses.
Stocks of rice and wheat in the Central Pool managed by the Food Corporation of India (FCI) have depleted to the lowest in the last five years and were 51.14 million tonnes (mt) on October 1. The previous low was 43.34 mt on October 1, 2017. The stock level is lower than the 81.60 mt last year, but 66% higher than the buffer norm and strategic reserve of 30.77 mt. According to latest FCI data, the wheat stock was 22.75 mt, rice 20.47 mt and unmilled paddy 11.83 mt, whereas the stock a year ago was wheat 46.85 mt, rice 25.33 mt and unmilled paddy 14.07 mt. After the extension of PMGKAY, the closing stocks with FCI in the current fiscal (on March 31) will be about 11 mt of wheat and 22.5 mt of rice. HBL
An Adani Group firm may soon be rated above India’s sovereign rating. The mega conglomerate of Asia’s richest man has surged while the pandemic dragged the country’s ratings down. Most successful PSU Navratnas have either the same rating as India or slightly lower. S&P has the lowest investment grade rating of BBB- on India with a stable outlook. It has warned that India faces factors that may harm its sovereign credit rating.
The Supreme Court had set aside a judicial order that allowed Adani Ports Special Economic Zone Ltd (APSEZL) to acquire 34 acres of land adjacent to Mundra Port in Gujarat if the State-run Central Warehousing Corporation (CWC) failed to obtain approval or waiver of its warehousing facility as an SEZ-compliant unit within three months. A bench headed by Justice BR Gavai held that the June 2021 order of the Gujarat High Court thrust upon the CWC a settlement that was to the detriment of the statutory corporation and to the advantage of a private entity.
Foreign currency loans raised by Indian companies nosedived to $210 million in the September quarter, down 93.3% from a year ago, when just five firms had raised $3.1 billion. This is the lowest since the December 2003 quarter, when India Inc raised $191 million.
India’s share of VC funding in Asia in this quarter has also fallen to 14% from 22% in Q2. The decline was lower in China, which has 42% of Asia’s VC funds. The contrast between India and China is also seen in volumes. In Q3, India’s largest deal involved upGrad, which raised $210 million, but China’s smallest deal was for $200 million.
A mob of more than 200 ransacked a mosque in a village in Gurugram, miles from Delhi, assaulting worshippers and threatening to expel them from the village. Police have registered an FIR but no arrests were reported. Vigilantism continues to dominate the news ― when it is reported, that is.
It took 10 days for the police in Udupi district of Karnataka to register a case against TV journalist Shrikant Shetty and Kajal Ben Shingala aka Kajal Hindustani, a hardline Hindutva crusader from Gujarat, over speeches made during the Durga Daud programme in Udupi on October 2. The FIR charged the duo with promoting religious enmity. A separate FIR was registered against 10-15 unknown persons for brandishing swords in the programme organised on Mahatma Gandhi’s birth anniversary by the Hindu Jagarana Vedike, which was attended by over 10,000 people.
The G7 nations’ attempt to persuade India to start negotiations on a Just Energy Transition Partnership (JETP), an initiative of the rich nations to accelerate phasing out coal and reducing emissions, has hit a roadblock. JETP offers funding options to developing countries. The Power Ministry has refused to consent to negotiations, arguing that coal cannot be singled out as a polluting fuel, and energy transition talks need to be held on equal terms. India could still get into the negotiations if the PMO intervenes, like it did during COP26, when India set a net zero target for 2070.
In a lawyer’s letter to the Election Commission, the Uddhav Thackeray Shiv Sena has alleged bias by the EC in the allocation of party symbols and names as it battles Maharashtra’s Chief Minister Eknath Shinde’s claim to the Shiv Sena stamp and seal, with the backing of the BJP.
SEBI has filed an appeal in the Supreme Court against a recent judgement by the Securities and Appellate Tribunal about the loan agreement between NDTV promoters Prannoy and Radhika Roy and lender Vishva Pradhan Commercial (VPCL). SEBI held that VPCL controlled NDTV but SAT had termed it as a figment of SEBI’s imagination. Now, SEBI has said that SAT has read the Takeover Code wrong. Had SEBI’s case stood in SAT, VPCL would have had to make an open offer for NDTV shares. But SAT overturned SEBI’s arguments, after which VPCL was bought over by the Adani Group, which triggered the clauses of the loan agreement and hence an open offer. SEBI’s appeal to the SC is unlikely to have any bearing on the open offer by Adani Group to acquire additional shares of NDTV from the open market. Also, Adani’s buyout of VPCL that triggered the private loan agreement involving VPCL, RRPR Holdings and the Roys.
Singapore Airlines said yesterday that it is in “confidential discussions” with the Tatas for a merger of Vistara and Air India. This is the first time that SIA, which holds 49% in Vistara, has officially acknowledged that it is in talks with the Tata Group on the possibility of a merger. The Tatas own 51% stake in Vistara and also own Air India and Air India Express.
Nine flights were diverted the night before following the emergency landing of a Spicejet plane at Hyderabad airport at around 11 PM. A “full scale emergency” was declared when smoke billowed in the cabin of Flight SG3735 from Goa to Hyderabad, with 86 passengers on board. Aviation regulator DGCA is said to be probing the incident. The crew told passengers to bend down and pray, and asked them to delete videos and images of the incident. But several images made their way out.
Reliance Industries Ltd is in advanced discussions to acquire German firm Metro AG’s wholesale operations in India, as Mukesh Ambani takes one more step to dominate India’s huge retail industry. Charoen Pokphand Group Co is no longer actively in talks with Metro, leaving only Ambani’s Reliance in the lists for the cash-and-carry business.
Nigeria and Liberia have flagged Maiden syrups after 66 children died in the Gambia after consuming its products.
The decade-long feud between the Scindias and Digvijaya Singh’s family has now reached the second generation. At a Congress meeting in Bhopal on Wednesday, Singh’s son MLA Jaivardhan Singh called Union Minister and BJP MP Jyotiraditya Scindia a “panauti” (bad omen). Hailing the triumph of the Congress in the July mayoral elections in Gwalior, Jaivardhan said the Congress won after 57 years “because our ‘panauti’, Jyotiraditya Scindia, joined the BJP.” This is probably the first time that he has publicly ridiculed Scindia, whose defection from the Congress in March 2020 led to the collapse of the 15-month-old Kamal Nath government.
The 24th All India Congress of the Communist Party of India (CPI) started today in Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh. A thousand delegates will take part and discuss the present political scenario, the BJP-led NDA government’s rule and other issues.
Dramatic footage of Turkish Opposition lawmaker Burak Erbay destroying a smartphone during his speech in Parliament to protest a proposed disinformation and social media bill has gone viral in his country, because it will destroy the little privacy that citizens still have. Indians, who still await digital and data protection laws, are even worse off.
Preserved parathas, which must be heated before they are served, cannot be like roti, chapati or khakra and will attract GST at the rate of 18%, Gujarat’s Appellate Authority for Advance Ruling (AAR) has upheld. Earlier, the Kerala AAR had held that classic Malabar parotta and whole Malabar parotta are to be taxed at 18%, but the Maharashtra AAR and Karnataka AAAR ruled differently. The Maharashtra AAR ruled that parotta is to be clubbed with khakhra, plain chapati or roti, and attract lower duty.
The jewel in the postcolonial British crown is coming under new scrutiny with the upcoming coronation of King Charles III and growing questions about what Camilla, Queen Consort, will wear on her head. The most famous jewel worn by British royalty on state occasions, the spectacular 105 carat Kohinoor diamond, is one that several countries, including India, say they would like back. The British government, responding to front-page stories claiming that Camilla may not wear the crown so as not to upset India, said that it was up to the palace to decide how the queen consort’s crown should be decorated. Buckingham Palace declined to comment.
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