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2G scam: SC dissatisfied over tardy tax evasion probe

While the I-T department defended its ongoing probe saying that the investigation has entered the "fifth layer", the court shot back saying, "We are not concerned about layers but results"

New Delhi: The Supreme Court today expressed displeasure over the tardy pace of probe by the Income Tax (I-T) department into the tax evasion cases linked to second generation (2G) spectrum allocation case, saying it wanted "results".

A bench of justices GS Singhvi and AK Ganguly directed the department to file a detailed report on action taken by it during the last three years when it got a complaint in this regard and began tapping corporate lobbyist Niira Radia's telephone, reports PTI.

"The I-T department must be quicker. This is not a normal case of tax evasion. It (probe) should have been done fast. These are not ordinary cases to be handled in ordinary way," the bench said.

The department, however, defended its ongoing probe saying that the investigation has entered the "fifth layer" and the approach towards the case has not been tardy.

The court, however, was not satisfied and said, "We are not concerned about layers but results."

The bench allowed the I-T department to approach the special judge trying the 2G case to interrogate company officials who are in judicial custody for their alleged role in the scam.

The bench also agreed to hear a plea by petitioner, the Centre for Public Interest Litigation, for appointment of two independent persons to assist the court in monitoring the probe by various government agencies in the scam. The CPIL had made the plea alleging that "big players are being let off".

The court also assured the petitioners, CPIL and others, that all the persons involved in the scam will be brought to justice irrespective of their wealth, position and power.

"You (petitioner) rest assured that no person, irrespective of their chair and wealth, could get immunity in any way," the bench said, adding "investigation in the case has made some progress which would not have been possible in normal circumstances."

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), meanwhile, contended that no person would be let off as investigation is still going on against Reliance and Tatas for their involvement in the scam.

The investigating agency also submitted that it will file fresh status report on the ongoing investigation in 2G scam after the summer vacation.

The court after hearing all sides posted the matter for further hearing on 13th May, when it would delve into the plea for appointment of independent person to assist the court in monitoring the probe.

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Food inflation falls to 8.53% for the week ended 23rd April

The high rate of price rise of food items was one of the reasons for inflationary pressure in the last fiscal. However, the government had exuded confidence that food inflation would moderate in the months to come on account of the record crop of wheat and pulses during the 2010-11 crop year

New Delhi: Food inflation fell to 8.53% for the week ended 23rd April from 8.76% in the previous week, on the back of fall in prices of pulses, reversing the upward trend seen in the previous fortnight, reports PTI.

The latest numbers are likely to come as a relief to the government and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), especially at a time when the central bank’s monetary policy for the fiscal, released earlier this week, was almost exclusively focused on fighting price rise.

Food inflation stood at 20.91% during the corresponding week last year.

During the week under review, wholesale prices of pulses declined by 7.39% on a year-on-year basis. However, all other commodities witnessed a rise in prices.

Cereals became dearer by 4.42% year-on-year, with rice and wheat becoming more expensive by 2.08% and 0.06%, respectively.

Vegetables prices were overall up by 3.44%.

Potatoes became dearer by 0.27% on an annual basis and onions were up by 16.09%.

Fruits and protein-based items continued to be more costly.

Fruits became dearer by 32.69% year-on-year, while milk was up by 5.16% and eggs, meat and fish by 5.13%.

The rate of price rise of non-food primary articles was 27.84%.

Fibres became more expensive by 85.58% year-on-year, while fuel and power was up by 13.53% and petrol by 21.81%.

The high rate of price rise of food items was one of the reasons for inflationary pressure in the last fiscal. However, the government had exuded confidence that food inflation would moderate in the months to come on account of the record crop of wheat and pulses during the 2010-11 crop year (July-June).

Headline inflation was 8.98% in March and has been above the 8% mark since January 2010.

In its monetary policy report released earlier this week, the RBI said inflationary pressure would remain a concern during the first fiscal, with core inflation (which does not take into account the rise in food prices) heating up on account of spiralling oil and commodity prices in the international market.

The RBI said inflation would remain at an average of 9% during the first half of 2011-12, before falling to around 6% by March 2012.

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