Airlines are indulging in unfair means in a big way and neither the Ministry of Civil Aviation nor the DGCA is monitoring it
The Lucknow bench of Allahabad High Court has asked the Indian government to submit copies of licence granted to private airlines as well as an order that removed upper and lower ceiling on airfare increase.
Social activist Dr Nutan Thakur has filed a writ petition against arbitrary raising of airfares by private and government airlines. The public interest litigation (PIL) says, "Private Air transport service providers are raising the air fares exorbitantly and irrationally on such critical occasions as important festivals, imminent and unexpected law and order situations and other crucial situations. This is nothing but a malicious and greedy way to extort money from poor and helpless ordinary passengers who are forced to pay such huge money."
The bench of Justice VK Shukla and Justice Brijesh Kumar Srivastava-II have also asked the government and Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to present copies of licences granted to private airlines to verify whether the specified requirements were followed or not while granting such licences. The Bench also asked the government to submit a copy of 27 December 2013 order, which allegedly has removed the upper and lower ceiling on airfare increase.
The PIL had sought cancellation of licence of all private airlines that did not follow the conditions specified in Schedule XI of Aircraft rules 1937 and to direct them not to arbitrarily increase airfares during periods of high demand.
Prasad was a member of the Standing Committee on Finance that discussed gas pricing policy, while he was engaged by a RIL group company
Ravi Shankar Prasad, the Minister for Communications and Information Technology in the Narendra Modi government, was part of the Standing Committee on Finance that discussed gas pricing policy among others, while he was on a retainership with company associated with Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL). According to the information procured from the Parliament by us, Prasad was present as member during a sitting of the Committee on 19 July 2013, when the issue of economic impact of gas pricing policy was discussed.
Documents provided by the Aam Admi Party (AAP) show that during April 2013 to March 2014, Prasad was retained by and paid Rs84 lakh as fees by Mumbai-based Fine Tech Corp Pvt Ltd. In addition, he seems to have raised nine bills worth Rs84 lakh on a single day in March 2014, as per the documents released by AAP. The Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP has alleged that Prasad, while being a member of the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) was paid this money as retainer fee from a company of Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL). Prasad, however, has refuted the allegations.
In a release, AAP said, "Union telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad is in receipt of retainership fees from a company of Reliance group (Fine Tech Corp Pvt Ltd). We are enclosing the invoices raised by Ravi Shankar Prasad on the company of Reliance group from April 2013 to March 2014, total amount billed Rs84 lakh. Payment is in the form of retainership fee. It appears to be a token of gratification being offered."
"Before becoming a union minister, Ravi Shankar Prasad was a member of the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) from March 2011 onwards, which examined matters relating to allocation and pricing of telecom licences and spectrum. Reliance is a major telecom player and many questions have been raised on Reliance’s improprieties in the 4G matter," the release says.
The JPC headed by PC Chako submitted its report on 25 October 2013. However, Prasad along with Jaswant Singh, Gopinath Munde, Harin Pathak, Dharmendra Pradhan and Yashwant Sinha submitted a note of dissent. It said, "It is regretted that in spite of voluminous evidence on record before the Committee, the final report chose not to fix responsibility of the Prime Minister, the Prime Minister’s Office, the Finance Minister and many others. Our note of dissent is designed to ensure that the political accountability of this massive scam is clearly determined and fixed against all the guilty so that it serves as a lesson for the future."
According to the documents provided by AAP, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader was retained by Mumbai-based Fine Tech Corp Pvt Ltd, during April 2013 to March 2014 and paid Rs7 lakh a month as fees. Prasad raised nine bills for the entire period as individual advocate. In all the bills, location of the service provided is mentioned as WO-31090172 dated 27.08.2013. In addition, all the bills show service description as "Advising on various issues from legal point of view, recommendation regarding decision or course of conduct and vetting of various contracts on legal aspects.”
Here is the copy of bills provided by AAP...
The Kejriwal-led party also alleged that Manish Tewari, the erstwhile minister in Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government also had a retainership agreement with RIL, this was while serving as a Minister. According to documents furnished by AAP, the Congress leader was paid Rs5 lakh between July 2010 and June 2012. Following a letter from Tewari, his retainership was extended by two more years for a fee of Rs6 lakh per month till June 2014. Tewari was also a member of the JPC, which probed the 2G telecom scam, the AAP said.
Here is the copy of letters sent by RIL to Tewari...
What is Fine Tech Corp?
According to information from Zauba.com, Fine Tech Corp was set up in November 2000. The company has three directors, Jaishanker Prasad Kanhaiya Lal Bansal, Rajagopal Subramanian and Shanker Natarajan. Bansal, who is shown as whole-time director of Fine Tech Corp, is also director of Reliance Jamnagar Infrastructure Ltd.
Rajagopal Subramanian is also associated with various RIL group companies, like Reliance Chemicals Ltd, Reliance Industries Investment and Holding Ltd, Reliance Energy and Project Development Ltd, Reliance Global Commercial Ltd and Reliance Aromatics and Petrochemicals Ltd. Shankar Natarajan is also director or additional director on several RIL group companies, including Reliance Oil and Petroleum Pvt Ltd, Jamnagar Kandla Pipeline Co Pvt Ltd and Reliance First Pvt Ltd.
The Bill, tabled in Parliament, is to be taken up for discussion in the budget session.
On a day, when the Chief Economic Advisor, Arvind Subramaniam, praised the Goods and Services Tax implementation and said that it would be a game changer, the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has said the Bill will not be tabled in Parliament in this session.
Jaitley said that the bill would be tabled in Parliament in the Budget session of Parliament. Reports had suggested that there had been a breakthrough in negotiations between the Centre and the States, and that the GST amendments would be taken up in Parliament in this session.
This session however, has been marred by disruptions in the Rajya Sabha, where the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is in a minority, with almost the entire Parliament session already washed out.
There were also reports that the Tamil Nadu CM had also opposed provisions in the GST and had said that the Bill should be deferred till the outstanding issues are resolved.
The Tamil Nadu CM wrote to PM Narendra Modi and said that the Empowered Committee of State Finance Ministers should be allowed to come to a consensus before taking up the bill in Parliament, PTI reported.