Centre writes to Delhi HC, asking to set up special court to try accused in telecom scam
New Delhi: Sixty-three persons, including promoters and chief executive officers (CEOs) of 10 telecom companies are under the scanner in the 2G spectrum allocation case, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) today told the Supreme Court (SC).
The central government, which is also a party to the case, informed judges GS Singhvi and AK Ganguly that it is in favour of setting up a special court to try the accused in the 2G case, and that the law minister has written to the Delhi High Court chief justice asking him to constitute a court and identify a judge for this purpose, reports PTI.
"The matter is under consideration," additional solicitor general Indira Jaisingh told the bench, which wanted to know about the progress of investigation in the case.
Senior advocate KK Venugopal, representing the CBI, apprised the judges about the progress by the CBI and placed the probe status report in a sealed cover before the court. "Sixty-three persons including promoters and CEOs of 10 companies have come under the scanner of the CBI in its probe into the 2G spectrum scam," Mr Venugopal said.
The judges today expressed satisfaction over the progress of the probe. They also asked both the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate to submit their reports on the investigation next by 10th March and posted the matter for further hearing on 15th March.
In the meanwhile, senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing for the Tata group of companies, pleaded for in-camera proceedings.
Earlier, on 10th February, while hearing a plea by the Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL) for a probe into the 2G case, the SC had asked the CBI to widen the ambit of its probe and to cover high-flying corporate leaders, without getting influenced by their status. While giving the CBI a free hand to probe the case, the court had also asked the government to set up a special court exclusively to try the spectrum scam accused.
"We have a large number of persons who think themselves to be the law. The law must catch them. It should be done with greater expedition. Merely that they are on the Forbes list or they are millionaires does not make any difference," the bench had remarked after perusing the CBI's probe status report in which names of big corporate houses and their officials had been mentioned.
But counsel Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the CPIL, had pointed out to the court that the agencies had not questioned the heads of several companies, including those of Swan Technology, which was controlled by Anil Ambani's Reliance Group, when the spectrum was allocated. At this, the bench had said, "Top authorities of companies were not questioned. It is surprising that the managing directors were not summoned."
Seeking to widen the ambit of CBI's probe, the court said the agency's freedom to investigate the matter should not be curtailed in any way and it asked the agency to go beyond the role of the four persons, among them former telecom minister A Raja, who were already arrested in the case.
"This investigation has led to a prima-facie conclusion about the culpability of four persons. What about the beneficiaries. They are part of a larger conspiracy. We want to know about them. You (CBI) take instructions and tell us what action you are planning to take," the judges had told the CBI.
Commerce secretary Rahul Khullar recently said India is likely to cross the $200 billion export target for the fiscal in February and total shipments during the year are likely to touch $225 billion
New Delhi: Driven by a pick-up demand in the US and Latin American markets, India's exports rose by 32.4% year-on-year to $20.6 billion in January, in line with projections that overall shipments will touch $225 billion this fiscal, reports PTI.
During the April-January period of 2010-11, outbound shipments grew by 29.3% to $184.63 billion vis-à-vis the year-ago period, commerce ministry data released today showed.
Apex exporters' body-Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO)-said the country's exports are increasing in new markets of Latin America and Africa, along with the US and especially within Asia.
"The January number is a huge jump. Strategy of going beyond the traditional markets of the US and Europe is paying rich dividends," FIEO said.
The government incentivises exporters to explore African and Latin American markets.
However, finance minister Pranab Mukherjee today said there are several external factors that pose challenges to the Indian economy.
"Global recovery remains fragile... There is also the danger of sovereign debt crisis in peripheral Euro zone countries spilling over to financial markets," Mr Mukherjee said at the annual general meeting of Ficci here.
As per the data, imports grew by 13.1% during the month to $28.58 billion, resulting in a trade deficit of $7.98 billion.
Commerce secretary Rahul Khullar recently said India is likely to cross the $200 billion export target for the fiscal in February and total shipments during the year are likely to touch $225 billion.
The commerce ministry has also sought public comments on its strategic paper to double India's exports to $450 billion in the next three years.
As per the ministry, the sectors that performed well during the April-January period of the current financial year include gems and jewellery (up 9.3%), engineering (up 70%) and petroleum and oil lubricants (up 36%).
Exporters are seeing huge demand for engineering products from Latin American countries such as Colombia, an official said.
On the import front, oil imports grew by 7.8% to $7.85 billion in the month under review, taking the import bill during April-January 2010-11 to $79.95 billion.
Non-oil imports grew by 23.8% to $20.73 billion in the month under review. Imports of non-oil items were up 19.2% during April-January to $193.64 billion from $162.4 billion in the same period last year.
Oil and non-oil imports totalled $273.59 billion in April-January, thus taking the trade gap to $88.96 billion. This is marginally lower than the $89.84 billion deficit recorded in the same period of 2009-10.
The government expects the trade gap to touch $105-110 billion by the end of the fiscal.
With a view to help exporters and importers, the government has announced a procedure for 'self assessment' of duty liabilities, a move that will help reduce transaction times and costs. In addition, the process for exporters to claim service tax refunds has also been simplified.
In the Budget 2011-12, the government has proposed to give duty benefits to exporters of handicrafts and leather products.
The makers of Sprite have come up with ‘First think, then drink’ in place of ‘Seedhi baat, no bakwaas’, which served the brand well for years. But in this evolution, they have lost the kick arse attitude of the earlier campaign
Makers of Sprite have finally moved away from seedhi baat. But no, they haven't opted for bakwaas baat in the process! Guess the 'Seedhi baat, no bakwaas' positioning had to evolve. The whacky idea had served the brand well for years together, but some amount of predictability had set in. It most definitely had reached its sell-by date. So it's great that Coke, the makers of Sprite, came up with a new extension.
This time, they have launched the 'University of Freshology'. No, this isn't another scam university in the US, it's Sprite's way of creating a brand new concept for the youth, its key target market. And the message this time is: 'First drink, then think'.
Apparently there are many new commercials on air to welcome the summer. I watched two. In one, a dating couple is seated outdoors, by the steps. The chap makes the fatal mistake of ogling at girls who are passing by, thus upsetting his partner.
Arrives on the scene a 'University of Freshology' professor, who urges the cad to first drink Sprite and then think. Refreshed, the dude now gets smart. He ogles at the girls while dissing their sense of dressing. This pleases the girl friend who also joins in the fun.
In another commercial pretty much the reverse scenario plays out. Here a couple is seated in a cafeteria. The very talkative girl seems to be boring the hell out of her boyfriend by recounting inane tales of her girl friends. Pakaaoed, the chap has no idea how to get out of this one. The 'University of Freshology' professor encourages him to drink Sprite. Suddenly, the hero now wants to know more about the girls, even wants to meet them. Frightened, the blabbering girl friend quits her blabber.
No doubt, this is fun stuff. Young India will enjoy this sort of advertising. And yes, it will take time for the 'University of Freshology' idea to catch on, and the Sprite managers will have to be ready for a long haul. But more importantly, while I feel that the 'Seedhi baat, no bakwaas' punch line had lost its potency, it was packed with great attitude and spontaneity. 'First drink, then think', on the other hand, is funny and entertaining, but lacks the kick arse attitude of the earlier campaign. So in the process of evolution, a key ingredient may have been lost. And minus attitude, Sprite is nothing.