Citizens' Issues
Accused in constable Tomar's death move HC for quashing of FIR

Shantanu Kumar and seven other accused have moved the high court for quashing of the FIR lodged on 23 December 2012 under penal provisions of attempt of murder and rioting

New Delhi: The eight accused in the death of Constable Subhash Tomar during anti-rape stir in capital on Friday moved the Delhi High Court seeking quashing of an first information report (FIR) against them for murder and rioting offences, claiming that they have been falsely implicated "without an iota of evidence", reports PTI.


Taking note of the plea, the High Court asked the city police to file within a week a status report on its probe into the circumstances leading to death of Tomar, who was allegedly assaulted on 23rd December by the eight protesters during the protests against the brutal gangrape of a paramedical student on 16th December.


Justice GP Mittal also issued notices to the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Delhi government. Fixing the matter for further hearing on 15th January, it also allowed the accused, who are out on bail, to amend their petition to insert an additional prayer for CBI investigation in the whole incident.


Shantanu Kumar and seven other accused have moved the high court for quashing of the FIR lodged on 23 December 2012 under penal provisions of attempt of murder and rioting.


Police later invoked section 302 (Murder) of the IPC against them after Tomar's death at a hospital here.


"The whole city is scared as a sister was sexually assaulted and the brothers who came out on roads to protest were made accused by the Delhi police.


"The head of the Delhi police needs to be called here in the court and asked to give reasons as to how he made false statements in his press conference about the whole case," said the counsel for accused.


He also referred to the alleged dissimilarities in the statements of Delhi Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar, two eye-witnesses and a doctor of Ram Manohar Lohia (RML) Hospital to buttress his allegation that Tomar collapsed on his own and was not assaulted by the accused.


The counsel said the video footage of DMRC amply suggests that the two accused, Kailash Joshi and his brother Amit, were travelling in a metro at the time of the incident and their false implication in this case raises a serious issue.


Taking note of the submission, the court asked city police to file the report.


Meanwhile, the court said it will take up on 15th January a separate plea of Gaurav Kumar Bansal, an advocate seeking CBI probe into constable's death.


Tomar, who died on 25th December at RML hospital, was posted at Karawal Nagar police station here and was called to help police in maintaining law and order at India Gate during the ant-rape protests on 23rd December.


Besides Amit, Kailash Joshi and Shantanu Kumar, Nafees, Shankar Bisht, Nand Kumar, Abhishek and Chaman Kumar - have been made accused.


The eight accused were granted bail by the trial court on 24th December.


SEBI moots corporate governance norms overhaul for listed companies

In the discussion paper for proposed changes in the corporate governance norms for listed companies, SEBI has also proposed measures for a greater oversight by and on independent directors, as well as greater alignment of CEO salaries with the performance and goals of the company

Market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) on Friday proposed wide-ranging overhaul of corporate governance norms for listed companies, through measures like checks against unjustifiable pay of chief executives (CEOs), greater powers to minority shareholders, an orderly succession planning and hefty penalties for non-compliance, reports PTI.


Besides, the regulator has also proposed a new concept of 'corporate governance rating' by independent agencies to monitor the level of compliance by the listed companies and regular inspection by SEBI and stock exchanges.


In a discussion paper for proposed changes in the corporate governance norms for listed companies, SEBI has also proposed measures for a greater oversight by and on independent directors, as well as greater alignment of CEO salaries with the performance and goals of the company.


SEBI said "that, on average, the remuneration paid to CEOs in certain Indian companies are far higher than the remuneration received by their foreign counterparts and there is no justification available to that effect."


The market regulator has also proposed mandatory disclosure by the listed companies of ratio of remuneration paid to the each of their directors and their median staff salary.


Such a disclosure has already been proposed in the Companies Bill 2012 for all public companies, but SEBI has proposed such a provision for listed companies in advance, along with a number of other corporate governance measures contained in the proposed Bill that is awaiting final Parliamentary approval.


SEBI said that it is seeking to adopt better global practices through these proposals without increasing the cost of compliances by a huge margin.


"... at the same time, it is necessary to bring back the confidence of the investors back to the capital market, for channelising savings into investment, which is the need of the hour," SEBI said.


The regulator also said the current regulations provide for actions like delisting or suspension of a company's shares, adjudication for levy of monetary penalty, prosecution and debarring of promoters and directors from the markets in case of non-compliance.


However, delisting or suspension is generally not considered an investor friendly action and therefore, cannot be resorted to as a matter of routine and can be used only in cases of extreme/repetitive non-compliance.


"Prosecution, on the other hand, is a costly and time-consuming process," SEBI said, while proposing measures like companies being asked to get Corporate Governance rating, inspection of compliance by stock exchanges, SEBI or any other agency.


It has also proposed imposing penalties on the company, its directors, compliance officer and key managerial persons for non-compliance "either in spirit or letter", and sought to convert the provisions of Listing Agreement into regulations for better enforcement.


Comments on the paper have been invited till 31st January.


Families in the US shoulder heftier burdens as college debt swells

Student debt is putting a strain on students - and their parents. Meanwhile, federal programs to make student loans more affordable won't bring relief to all

It's been a year of eye-popping records for student debt. Outstanding student loan debt surpassed credit card debt, with one government estimate pegging total student loan debt at more than $1 trillion.

Such staggering figures drew renewed attention to the fact that rising higher education costs and falling government support for state colleges and universities has burdened individual students and their families with immense debt — all at a time when new graduates face anemic prospects for getting a decent job.

Parents Take on Federal Loans for Their Children


Increasingly, the debt burden falls on parents, not just students. As we reported with The Chronicle of Higher Education, the federal Parent Plus loan program allows parents to borrow big from the federal government to fund their children's college education when grants, scholarships and federal student loans (which are capped at strict dollar amounts) don't suffice. Borrowers with low income, or even no income at all, can still get the loan so long as they pass a check on their credit history.


The Parent Plus program has increasingly been the solution for families coming up short on funds for college — but as we noted, it can be dangerous when families, desperate to give their child the advantages of a costly college education, borrow more than they can handle.

College financial aid offices — which typically see their role as merely laying out financial aid options — are often reluctant to advise families on how much is too much to borrow. But some highlight the parent loans by including them in a student's financial aid package in a suggested amount — often the amount needed to cover the "gap" in need. At some schools, that amount can easily reach tens of thousands of dollars for just one year, let alone four. With no check on the borrower's income or ability to repay the loan, many families sink into hopeless debt — which, like all federal student loans, can almost never be eliminated through bankruptcy.


Private Student Loan Pains Continue

Private student loans can also saddle generations with debt when parents co-sign on the loans taken out by their children. As we reported, that's what happened to Francisco Reynoso, a California gardener who made just over $21,000 last year. He co-signed on six figures in private student loans for his son. Several months after the younger Reynoso graduated, he died in a car accident, leaving his father mired in grief and debt.


Private student loans — which for years had been unregulated — generally carry fewer consumer protections than government loans. If Reynoso's loan had been federal, his debt would have been cancelled upon his son's death. Instead, as we reported, he was left on the hook — unsure of what company to appeal to because his loans had changed hands so many times. (As of this writing, Reynoso's four years of financial uncertainty over his debts are nearing an end. One of his debts was discharged through the bankruptcy process. The other debt has been settled in a confidential agreement with the lender. See our latest story.)


Borrowers on the hook for private student loans don't have many places to turn when lenders refuse to grant flexibility. They're not affected by the Obama administration's efforts to help federal student loan borrowers manage loan payments — see below. And, of course, student loans are one of the few debts that generally cannot be shed in bankruptcy. Both the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and some members of Congress have suggested that this should be changed for private student loans, but the proposal hasn't seen much movement.

What the Obama Administration Has Done

This fall, the Obama administration finalized regulations expanding an existing federal program to help struggling borrowers with federal loans. It's worth noting that the measures — said to be a windfall for some borrowers, especially those heading to graduate school — won't be of much help for borrowers who have already fallen behind on their federal student loans. In order to qualify for the current income-based repayment program or the new version, called "Pay As You Earn," borrowers must be current on their loans.


As we reported, the Obama administration also recently adopted a crucial reform to help disabled borrowers get their federal student loans forgiven more easily by eliminating some of the red tape. Now, the Education Department has agreed to accept the assessment of the Social Security Administration in determining whether a borrower is disabled and thus eligible for loan forgiveness. Its previous, more dysfunctional system had required a second assessment of disability that kept many borrowers deprived of the benefits to which they were entitled.


We've also reported on how throughout this year, the Education Department has continued its seismic shift in the servicing of student loans — steadily transferring more than a million borrowers to private companies with contracts to handle the day-to-day management of federal student loan accounts. As we've reported, the shift will roughly triple the total number of companies handling loans from a year ago, causing confusion for many borrowers caught in the shuffle and making it harder for the government to oversee its servicers.


In the past year, the new consumer watchdog agency, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, began wielding new regulatory power over private student loans. The CFPB has published a number of reports detailing abuses in the private loan market and has been taking all manner of student-loan complaints from consumers.


We'll continue covering student loan stories in the new year. So if you or someone you know has a story about any of the issues mentioned above — from borrowing to servicing to the loan relief programs — share them with us. Or if you work in financial aid or at a student loan company, sign up to be one of our experts.


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