Consumer Issues
Bank Holidays: No need to panic

Due to holidays during this weekend and early next week, banks have decided to work on 30th September and 1st October


Bank customers across the country can heave a sigh of relief, as there will not be continuous holidays during this and early next week. This week, banks will have holidays only on 2nd and 3rd October, owing to Mahatma Gandhi Jayanti and Dussehra and would function as normal on 30th September and 1st October.


Officials from private and public sector banks told Moneylife that this time, there would be no half-yearly closing. Banks will have holidays only for two days this week and one day next week. According to Reserve Bank of India (RBI), both on 2nd and 3rd October, cheque clearing and Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) services would not be available.


Saturday, 4th October, is half-working day and due to two consecutive days of holidays, there would be huge rush in banks across the country. There would two day’s holiday again after Saturday.


On Monday, all banks would remain closed for Bakri Id (Id-ul-Zuha). However, on 6th October, only cheque clearance will not be available and customers with Internet or mobile banking can do transactions, like RTGS online.


Several trader organisations had advised members to complete all their banking transactions looking at the long list of holidays this week. This also means that the branch banking system would be back in full force only on next Tuesday.


According Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), such a long spell of bank holidays will certainly hamper normal conduct of business operations across the country because during the season sales, traders do lot of purchasing for stocking materials.


SEZs of Hindalco, Essar, Adani cancelled

According to the Commerce Ministry, nine developers of these SEZs have to refund the duty benefits availed by them


The Indian government has cancelled approvals of nine special economic zones (SEZs) citing unsatisfactory progress by the developers for executing of the projects. This includes SEZs of Hindalco Industries in Orissa, Essar Jamnagar SEZ Ltd and Adani Townships & Real Estate Company.


The decision was taken in the meeting of the Board of Approval (BoA) headed by Commerce Secretary Rajeev Kher on 18th September.


In a statement, the Commerce Ministry said, "The Board noted that the progress made by the following developers/co-developers is not satisfactory. The Board, after deliberations, decided to cancel the formal approval/ notification/co—developer status, as the case may be, in nine cases.”


It said the developers have to refund the duty benefits availed by them. “The approval is subject to the Development Commissioner furnishing a certificate... that the developer has not availed any tax/ duty benefits under SEZ Act/Rules or has refunded any such benefits availed by it and subject to the state government furnishing it’s no objection certificate to the proposal,” it added.


Hindalco Industries had proposed to set up an aluminium product SEZ in Orissa. The formal approval to the developer was granted in July 2007. The developer was granted extension from time to time and the last extension granted expired on 31 December 2013.


Essar Jamnagar SEZ Ltd, which had proposed to set up a multi-product zone in Gujarat, got formal approval in August 2006. It was expired in August 2009. The developer did not make any request for further extension of approval.


Similarly, Adani Townships & Real Estate Company Ltd had proposed an IT/ITeS zone in Gujarat. The BoA granted formal approval in June 2007, which expired in June 2010.


The developer had reported that they could not proceed with the SEZ project due to adverse demand scenario from IT sector and accordingly they are not interested in perusing the project.


The other developers whose SEZs were cancelled include Chennai Business Park, Integrated Warehousing Kandla Project Development and Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation.


As per SEZ rules, formal approval is valid for a period of three years, by which time at least one unit has to commence production and the zone becomes operational from the date of commencement of such production.


Provision to this rule provides for extension of this formal approval by BoA, for which the developer will submit his application to the concerned DC, who shall, within 15 days, forward it to the Board with his recommendations.


Jayalalitha seeks bail from Karnataka High Court

In Jayalalitha's case, since the sentencing is for a period more than three years, only the High Court can grant bail


J Jayalalitha, former chief minister of Tamil Nadu on Monday filed a petition in the Karnataka High Court challenging her conviction and seeking bail in the disproportionate assets case against her.


The 66-year-old leader sought relief two days after a Special Court in Bengaluru sentenced her to jail for four years, as a fallout of which she lost her Assembly membership and consequently chief minister’s post.


Jayalalithaa’s aide Sasikala, her relatives VN Sudhakaran and Ilavarasi also approached the court, seeking bail and challenging their conviction in the case.


Last Saturday, Special Judge John Michael D’Cunha, who has slapped a staggering fine of Rs100 crore on Jayalalithaa in the 18-year-old Rs66.65 crore corruption case, also sentenced the three to four years of jail term and fined Rs10 crore each.


In the landmark judgment that saw the first conviction of a sitting Chief Minister in a corruption case, all the four were held guilty of amassing wealth disproportionate to their known sources of income under the Prevention of Corruption Act and criminal conspiracy under the Indian Penal Code.


The High Court is on Dussehra holidays from 29th September to 6th October and a Vacation Bench may take up the petition on Tuesday during a scheduled hearing.


Since the sentencing is for a period more than three years, only the High Court can grant bail in Jayalalithaa’s case.


A stay on the conviction would nullify the disqualification of Jayalalithaa as MLA. Unless the conviction is overturned by a superior court, Jayalalithaa runs the risk of being barred from contesting elections for 10 years – four years when she is in jail and six years after release.


Jayalalithaa is currently lodged in the Parappana Agrahara central jail in Bangalore, as also three others.


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