Amar Singh granted interim bail till 19th September

Rajya Sabha MP Amar Singh, who was in judicial custody for nine days, has been granted interim bail till 19th September on health grounds

New Delhi: Rajya Sabha MP Amar Singh was Thursday granted interim bail till 19th September on health grounds by a Delhi court in the 2008 cash-for-vote scam, reports PTI.

The 55-year-old former Samajwadi Party leader was granted interim bail by special judge Sangita Dhingra Sehgal. Mr Singh was in judicial custody for nine days.

He was arrested on 6th September after he appeared in court in response to its summons for his alleged role in the scam.

Mr Singh, who had undergone a kidney transplant, was subsequently sent to the All-India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS) on 12th September following complaints of vomiting and diarrhoea.

The court granted him bail on furnishing a personal bond of Rs2 lakh and a surety of the same amount.

"Amar Singh granted interim bail till 19th September," the judge said while directing Mr Singh to submit his passport to the court and not to leave Delhi without its permission.

The court is slated to hear Mr Singh's regular bail plea on 19th September.

The court had reserved its order on Mr Singh's interim bail plea earlier after briefly hearing arguments on it by defence and prosecution counsel.

Mr Singh's counsel Hariharan sought interim bail referring to the medical report given by AIIMS on Wednesday to the court and contending that the Tihar Jail authorities earlier had given misleading report to the court.

"The report by jail authorities was misleading due to which nine precious days have been lost. Due to the misleading report the court was forced to go into the exercise of calling for reports from AIIMS," he contended.

He said his client was being treated differently "only because he is Amar Singh" and added his health parameters make a good case for bail.

"I say misleading because the jail authorities said his parameters were slightly above normal but it was dangerously above normal for a person with one kidney and that too a transplanted one," he said and added that Mr Singh is entitled for bail as he is 'sick and infirm"' and this fact has been corroborated by the report submitted by AIIMS.

Public prosecutor Rajiv Mohan countered the allegations, saying Mr Singh was being treated just like any other inmate of the jail.

In a two-page medical report, the AIIMS authorities had yesterday told the court that Mr Singh was suffering from multiple health problems and was prone to infection.

"He continues to have vomiting and diarrhoea for which the gastroenterologist has suggested automatic function tests and endoscopy with mucosal biopsy," the report had said and added that any kidney transplant patient, showing more than 30% acute rise in S Creatinine level, needs hospitalisation.


Food inflation eases to 9.47% for week ended 3rd September

The fall in food inflation could be attributed to a moderation in the rate of price rise of some of the items on a week-on-week basis, even though they remained higher on an annual basis

New Delhi: Food inflation, as measured by the Wholesale Price Index (WPI), declined marginally but was still high at 9.47% for the week ended 3rd September from 9.55% in the previous week. The marginal decline in the price rise was attributed to the fall in prices of pulses and wheat while prices of all other items rose on an annual basis, reports PTI.

The rate of price rise of food items was 15.16% in the corresponding week of 2010.

As per data released by the government, prices of pulses fell by 2.45% year-on-year, while wheat became cheaper by 2.03% during the week ended 3rd September.

However, other food items became more expensive during the week under review.

Onions grew dearer by 42.98% on an annual basis, while potato prices were up 21.16%.

Furthermore, fruits became 22.64% more expensive during the week ended 3rd September and overall, prices of vegetables shot up by 17.47%.

In addition, milk became 10.02% costlier, while the rates for cereals were up by 5.02% during the seven-day period under review.

The fall in food inflation could be attributed to a moderation in the rate of price rise of some of the items on a week-on-week basis, even though they remained higher on an annual basis.

The decline could also be attributed to the high inflation of over 15% in the corresponding year-ago period, a phenomenon dubbed the 'high base effect' in economic parlance.

Overall, inflation in primary articles was recorded at 13.04% during the week ended 3rd September, down from 13.34% in the previous week. Primary articles account for over 20% of wholesale price index inflation.

Inflation in non-food articles, which include fibres, oilseeds and minerals, stood at 18.49% during the week under review, compared to 19.88% in the previous week.

Meanwhile, fuel and power inflation went up to 13.01% from 12.55% in the previous week.

Food inflation has been hovering near the double-digit mark since July-end and even went above 10% for a week in mid-August.

Earlier this month, the government banned onion exports to curb rising prices of the product, which have shot up from Rs15 per kilo to Rs25 per kilo in the national capital during the past few weeks.

Experts are of the view that despite the latest fall pressure on the food price front will continue to keep the government and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on their toes.

Headline inflation, which factors in manufactured items, fuels and non-food primary items, in addition to food commodities, stood at a 13-month high of 9.78% in August.

The RBI has already hiked policy rates 11 times since March 2010, to tame demand and curb inflation.

However, inflation continues to remain high and in addition, the country's economic growth has seen a drastic slowdown, which some have attributed to the rising cost of credit.

Industrial production fell to a 21-month low of 3.3% in July. Economic growth in the April-June period stood at 7.7%, the lowest in six quarters.

This has put the central bank, which is scheduled to conduct its mid-quarterly review of the monetary policy tomorrow, in a dilemma over whether to continue with its hawkish policy stance to tackle inflation, or pause on its monetary tightening strategy with a view to get the country's growth back on track.


Oil secretary rules out decontrol of diesel prices in near-term

"The assessment is that if diesel (price) is left free, it might lead to further acceleration in inflation. Till there is confidence in a stable growth and a containable inflation, such modulation (of regulating prices) may exist," oil secretary GC Chaturvedi said

Mumbai: Oil secretary GC Chaturvedi on Wednesday said though the government wants to decontrol diesel price, it will not do so till inflation comes down and confidence in the sustainability of higher economic growth returns, reports PTI.

"The assessment is that if diesel (price) is left free, it might lead to further acceleration in inflation. Till there is confidence in a stable growth and a containable inflation, such modulation (of regulating prices) may exist but it is not a long-term perspective," Mr Chaturvedi said addressing the Offshore India conference here.

"I would say this is a transient phenomenon and we ourselves in the government would like to see that the prices of all petro products are fixed as per the international prices," he added.

On LPG price hike, he said, the Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) which is meeting tomorrow will discuss LPG price.

The secretary further said the recent spike in international crude prices has resulted in under-recoveries in diesel going up to Rs6 per litre from the earlier Rs4.57.

"The government is quite conscious of the under-recovery, quite conscious of the price parity with the international market and has been taking steps to keep them as close to the international prices as possible," he said, elaborating the steps taken by the government in June, which included a cut in duties and taxes accompanied by a price hike of Rs3 a litre on diesel resulting in a revenue loss of nearly Rs50,000 crore to the exchequer.

Inflation for August stood at an uncomfortable 9.78%, while there is widespread scepticism on whether the country will be able to sustain its high growth rates due to a variety of factors, including the high crude prices.

Though the government has completely deregulated petrol rates, it has not done so for the politically sensitive diesel, kerosene and liquefied petroleum gas yet. Mr Chaturvedi said the EGoM will discuss LPG price hike issue tomorrow.

Asked whether the EGoM will take up diesel decontrol, he said under-recoveries warrant such a move but it is upon the EGoM to take a final call on it. "We present the data to them," he said.

On the recent CAG report which has been critical of the ministry's handling of the Krishna-Godavari basin fields with Reliance Industries, he said, the ministry will present its case before the PAC (Public Accounts Committee) whenever it is summoned.

To a query on another CAG recommendation on the dual role of the Directorate General of Hydrocarbons (DGH), Mr Chaturvedi said none of the reports like the CAG's or the earlier one by the Naresh Narad Committee (set up in 2001) gave any solutions to the problem and maintained that the government cannot do away with the DGH.

"We cannot take away the DGH. The DGH is the technical arm of the government. What the DGH would do and what the regulator would do these things are not clear," he admitted.

Asked for his reaction on the criticism that the CAG has not put a number to the possible losses, he said, "I can't comment. It is up to the CAG to calculate or not calculate. I can't say anything. May be there would have been some constraints because of which they could not calculate the exact amount. It can be done later on also."


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