The Hindu Important Articles 31 May 2018

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#  ICICI Bank to inquire into allegations against Kochhar

Panel to probe MD on whistle-blower plaint on breach of bank’s code of conduct


ICICI Bank’s board has decided to set up an inquiry committee, headed by an independent person, to probe an anonymous whistle-blower’s complaint against managing director and chief executive officer Chanda Kochhar. The complaint includes allegations of violation of the bank’s code of conduct and of quid pro quo in dealing with certain borrowers.

The move comes just days after the capital markets regulator issued a show cause notice to the bank for the alleged violations of disclosure requirements in the case involving the Videocon group and NuPower Renewables — a company founded and run by Ms. Kochhar’s husband Deepak Kochhar.

“The scope of inquiry would be comprehensive and include all relevant matters arising out of and in the course of the examination of the facts and wherever warranted, use of forensic/email reviews and recordal of statements of relevant personnel etc. The inquiry would also cover all connected matters in the course of the investigation to bring the matter to a final close,” the bank said in an exchange filing. The board has mandated its audit committee to appoint the head of the inquiry panel and outline the terms of reference and the period which will be covered by the probe.

The whistle-blower has alleged that Ms. Kochhar had not adhered to provisions of the bank’s code of conduct and legal and regulatory norms relating to conflict of interest over a period of time.

In March, the Central Bureau of Investigation had initiated a preliminary inquiry to look into the alleged nexus between Videocon group and Mr. Kochhar. The transaction was first highlighted by a whistle-blower, Arvind Gupta, in 2016.

#  Rain abates, but problems persist

Residents blame civic authorities for Tuesday’s waterlogging
Residents of Mangaluru heaved a sigh of relief as rain took a break on Wednesday even as several low-lying areas continued to be waterlogged.

While the Mangaluru City Corporation should have undertaken clearing of storm-water drains before the onset of monsoon, not many drains had been cleared this time. As the rainwaters receded on Wednesday, it was found that major drains around Kottara Chowki that witnessed heavy waterlogging on Tuesday were not cleared of vegetation and silt. Similar was the case with many other drains across the city.

Many areas in Jeppinamogaru, a suburb lying on the east of the National Highway 66 close to the Netravathi, continued to witness waterlogging on Wednesday. Coming up on low-lying marshy and agricultural land, the locality has been prone to waterlogging because of its location.

Choked drains added to the woes of residents while the district administration on Wednesday planned to deploy water pumps to drain out water. Residents of the area complained that area councillor Surendra was not reachable on his mobile phone since Tuesday. They claimed that blockage of a major drain passing between a school and now-closed bar and restaurant has aggravated waterlogging in the locality.

Meanwhile, a portion of a retaining structure around the construction site of a multi-storey building posed threat to an adjoining residential premises on Falnir Road on Wednesday. The builder of the multi-storey building had excavated earth to a large extent and provided retaining pillars, a portion of which collapsed in heavy rain.

Various agencies, including personnel from the corporation, Fire and Emergency Services, National Disaster Relief Force and others, were engaged in clearing obstacles in storm-water drains after rainwaters receded. The personnel were focussing on areas, including Kottara Cowki, Malemar, Pumpwell, Jeppinamogaru, Kudroli-Alake and surrounding areas, that witnessed heavy waterlogging.

Power infrastructure also took a beating on account of rain. More than 1,200 electricity poles were damaged across the district on Tuesday even as the Mangalore Electricity Supply Company is working to restore them.

#  HSC results declared, girls trump boys yet again

Dip in pass percentage; Mumbai division records 87.44%
In continuation of a now-familiar trend, girls outdid boys yet again in the Maharashtra Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) or Class XII, results to which were declared on Wednesday.

The exams, conducted by the Maharashtra State Board of Secondary and Higher Secondary Education (MSBSHSE) saw a dip in the overall pass percentage to 88.41% from last year’s 89.50%, but was higher than 86.60% recorded in 2016. The pass percentage for girls was 92.36% as against the 85.23% for boys.

Of the 14.85 lakh students who sat for the exams, 12.52 lakh passed. In all, 8,34,134 boys and 6,50,898 girls appeared for the exams.

“This year, for the first time, we used bar codes in both the question and answer sheets and provided online hall tickets in the Pune division, besides scheduling a break of one day between important papers,” said Shakuntala Kale, chairperson, MSBSHSE, expressing satisfaction at the successful conduct of the exams.

The Science stream recorded a pass percentage of 95.85% – same as last year. The Arts stream recorded a pass percentage of 78.93%, a significant dip from last year’s 81.91%, while 89.50% Commerce students cleared the exams, as compared to last year’s 90.57%.

The pass percentage among disabled category students was 91.78%.

Yet again, the Konkan division, where the least number of students appeared, notched up the ‘highest’ pass percentage in the State among the nine HSC divisions notching 94%, while the Nashik division recorded the lowest at 86.13%.

Mumbai division, where the maximum number of students appeared, registered the second ‘lowest’ with 87.44%, behind Latur which chalked a pass figure of 88.31%.

#  After 16 days of hikes, fuel prices cut — by 1 paisa

IOC blames earlier announcement on a technical glitch
In a quick clarification, the Indian Oil Corporation on Wednesday said petrol and diesel prices were cut by one paisa a litre instead of the reduction of 60 paise for petrol and 56 paise for diesel it had announced earlier in the morning.

The reduction nevertheless marks a break in the 16-day streak of rising fuel prices since May 14, when oil companies resumed their daily price revisions following a 19-day hiatus.

“There was a technical glitch in posting the selling prices of petrol and diesel on our website today,” the IOC said in a clarification. “The selling prices of petrol and diesel with effect from May 30, 2018, have been rectified on our website. Today, there is a minor reduction in fuel prices.”

The 1 paisa reduction puts the price of petrol and diesel in Delhi — the reference market — at Rs. 78.42 and Rs. 69.30 a litre, respectively.

Kerala announced that it decided to reduce the sales tax on petrol by 1.69% and on diesel by 1.75%, which would result in a Rs. 1 reduction in the retail prices of the fuels.

#  No time-frame for fulfilling Centre’s promises, says Union Minister

Nothing wrong with Amit Shah’s query on utilisation certificates, he says
Union Minister of State, PMO, Personnel and Development of North Eastern Region Jitendra Singh on Wednesday said there was no time frame for fulfilling the promises made by the Central government to Andhra Pradesh.

At an interaction with media persons here, Dr. Singh was asked how long the State government was expected to wait for the implementation of the Special Category Status or the Special Assistance Measure (Special Package) in lieu of the SCS, the Polavaram project and the funds for capital. He was here to brief media about the achievements of the Modi government on the completion of four years.

He said the State government should have waited patiently instead of walking out of the NDA. “The Centre feels this walk out by Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu was more to do with domestic political compulsions rather than non-fulfilment of promises. When he could wait for three years and nine months why not for some more time?”

Even otherwise the Centre would not have granted the SCS as many States would have come up with similar demand. He said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had not made any promise on the SCS any time. He was not aware if Mr. Modi made the promise during election campaign in Tirupati in 2014.

The Minister said the State was reluctant to accept SAM though Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley “even asked AP government to which account the funds under it are to be transferred”. He disagreed with a reporter who pointed out no funds flowed to the State under SAM over a year after its announcement.

To another question, he found nothing wrong in BJP president Amit Shah asking the AP government about the utilisation certificates for the Central funds released for the capital. He would not go by media reports that the PMO had intervened and withdrawn Rs. 350 crore released for the development of the backward districts in AP.

Asked about the huge allocation for the Dholera smart city in Gujarat and not much for Amaravati, he said the Modi government harboured no bias. It believed in equitable flow irrespective of the political party ruling a State. He wondered the motive behind AP insisting on executing the Polavaram project when the Centre was prepared to take it up.

Dr. Singh said the USP of the Central government was credibility and trust worthiness enjoyed by Mr. Modi. It was because of his leadership that tough decisions like demonetisation and GST could be taken. These were part of the efforts to keep pace with global competition and economic changes.

#  Elections to gram panchayats anytime after June 20

Collectors, SPs asked to complete general transfer of employees
State Election Commissioner V. Nagi Reddy informed the Collectors and Superintendents of Police at a crucial meeting here on Wednesday that the notification for elections to 12,751 gram panchayats in Telangana would be issued any time after June 20.

Mr. Reddy asked the Collectors and SPs to complete by June 20 the general transfer of employees to facilitate their deployment for polling duties. They were told it would be a three-phase polling to elect sarpanches and ward members on non-party basis. The elected bodies of gram panchayats would elect the upa-sarpanches on the same day.

The meeting, also attended by Chief Secretary S.K. Joshi, Director General of Police M. Mahender Reddy, District Panchayat Officers and Chief Executive Officers of Zilla Parishads, was informed that the identification of backward class voters was in progress and the final list would be published on June 1, while the list of polling stations would be notified on June 4. Sources said the reservation for sarpanches would be fixed district-wise on population basis and the Collectors would allot the same, while the Revenue Divisional Officers would complete the formalities for the wards. As per the new Panchayat Raj Act of the State, BCs are entitled for 34% reservation, while SCs and STs would get it proportionate to their population in each district. Women would be reserved 50% seats in each category.

The elections would be confined to gram panchayats alone as mandal and zilla parishads have one more year to complete the term. Apart from 12,751 sarpanches, the voters would also elect 1.13 lakh ward members. The election officials would give two ballot papers to voters, one for sarpanch and the other for ward member, in different colours.

The State EC is relying mostly on ballot boxes as the electronic voting machines in the State would not be sufficient for the election of such a big nature which is accentuated by reorganisation of districts. The government added 3,965 new panchayats to the existing 8,786 after the new districts were formed. The EC has given 60,000 ballot boxes, while Karnataka and Maharashtra have pooled their resources.

#  Red gram dues in 10 days

Deputy Commissioner R. Venkatesh Kumar has assured farmers who had sold their red gram crop at government-established procurement centres of clearing all their dues within 10 days. He added that the erroneous bank account details provided by farmers for online payment had also contributed to the delay.

#  HC: Can’t stay prosecution against kin of Chidambaram

The Madras High Court on Wednesday refused to stay the prosecution launched by the Income Tax department against former Union Minister P. Chidambaram’s wife Nalini Chidambaram, son Karti P. Chidambaram and daughter-in-law Srinidhi Karti Chidambaram under the Black Money (Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets) and Imposition of Tax Act of 2015 for alleged non-disclosure of a property purchased by them at a cost of £5.35 lakh at Cambridge in the UK.

Plea rejected

Justice S. Baskaran rejected the plea for interim orders after A.P. Srinivas, senior standing counsel for the IT department, brought it to the notice of the court that the complaint lodged by the department against the petitioners before the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (CMM) court at Egmore here was yet to be numbered. The judge simply adjourned a batch of writ petitions filed by the family to July 5 after directing the standing counsel to file a counter affidavit by then.

He also recorded the submission of the IT counsel that orders passed by higher officials granting sanction for prosecution could not be furnished to the petitioners as demanded by them. During the course of the argument, Mr. Srinivas told the court that the writ petitions had been filed prematurely and that copies of the complaints lodged by the department under the 2015 Act before the CMM would be furnished to the petitioners immediately after they get numbered.

Earlier, two senior counsel, representing the petitioners contended that the Principal Director of Income Tax (Investigation) was not a competent officer to launch prosecution under Section 50 of the Act since the show cause notices had been issued to the petitioners only by a Deputy Director in his capacity as the assessing officer. They also claimed that the CMM court was not a designated special court under the Act to take cognisance of the complaint.

‘No offence committed’

Rebutting the contentions, the standing counsel pointed out that Section 80 of the Act states that no court inferior to that of a metropolitan magistrate or a magistrate of the first class could try any offence under the enactment. However, petitioners’ counsel contended that no offence had been committed at all since the foreign asset had been duly declared by the family in their annual income tax returns for the relevant assessment year.

#  ‘Bag-less day’ in Udupi schools from next month
In a bid to give students the pleasure of not carrying their heavy bags to schools at least once a month, all government, aided and unaided schools have been directed to observe a ‘bag-less’ day on the last Saturday of every month from June onwards in Udupi district.

#  Banking services hit in Dharwad
Banking services in public sector banks were hit as employees began their two-day strike in response to a call for nation-wide agitation by the United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU) here on Wednesday.

#  Over Rs. 21 crore rain damage in DK
Tuesday’s unprecedented rain has caused havoc in Dakshina Kannada district. The damage to houses and public infrastructure is estimated to be over Rs. 21 crore. Contrary to the forecast of very heavy rain on Wednesday too, the rain abated to some extent, bringing relief to harried residents of Mangaluru in particular. Mangaluru alone received an average of 360 mm rainfall on Tuesday.

#  Boy electrocuted while taking selfie atop engine
He went to railway station to click pictures
A 15-year-old boy was electrocuted when he attempted to take a selfie on top of a train engine at Jaggayyapeta railway station in Krishna district on Wednesday.

According to the police, Pagadala Rama Sai, accompanied by two of his friends belonging to Torraguntapalem village, went to the railway station to click some pictures. Sai reportedly came in contact with the overhead electric wire when he was attempting to take a selfie after climbing on top of the goods train engine. The two friends were waiting on the track then.

Sai fell from the engine after he was electrocuted and suffered over 80% burns. He was shifted to the local government hospital and later shifted to a hospital in Guntur where he succumbed to burns.

“We have received communication from the railway police, confirming the death of Sai and informed his patents,”said a police officer.

Sai had secured 9.7-grade marks in class X this year and he is the youngest son of Narasimha Rao and Kavitha.
#  Petrol and diesel to be cheaper by Rs. 1 in State
The State government has provided some relief for motor vehicle owners by deciding to forego Rs. 1 on every litre of petrol and diesel sold in the Kerala.

The Cabinet decision to forego the State’s Value Added Tax (VAT) on petrol and diesel would take effect on June 1, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan told a news conference here on Wednesday. The State government was doing its bit to provide relief to the people despite its serious financial difficulties. The decision would mean a shortfall of Rs. 509 crore in the State’s tax revenue, the Chief Minister said.

Mr. Vijayan said the State government had decided to forego Rs. 1 from its tax revenue after calling upon the Central government repeatedly to provide relief to the people who have been bearing the brunt of relentless increase in petrol and diesel prices.

In a Twitter post, Finance Minister T.M. Thomas Isaac described the Cabinet decision as ‘another second anniversary gift to the people’. The sales tax on petrol, he said, would be reduced by 1.69% and diesel by 1.75% in Kerala. The would result in retail prices declining by Rs. 1. He asked: “Now will PM Modi be willing to roll back his tax hike?”

#  Rama chiluka is State’s official bird
The State government has decided to notify Rose-ringed parakeet (Psittacula krameri), popularly known as Rama Chiluka , as State bird.

The neem (vepa, Azadirachta indica) is the official tree.

The blackbuck ( Krishna jinka, Antilope cervicapra) is the animal while Jasmine ( malle puvvu, Jasminum Officinale) the flower.

Palapitta or Indian Roller/Blue Jay was the official bird in the combined Andhra Pradesh and water Lily (Nymphaeaceae) the flower. There is no change in the tree and the animal.

The Telangana government has retained Palapitta as its State bird as sighting it on Dasara is considered auspicious there. Jinka (Deer), Jammi Chettu (Prosopis Cineraria), Tangedu (Tanner’s Cassia) are its animal, tree and flower.

Source:- The Hindu

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