All the convicts applied for bail immediately after the sentencing and were granted relief in the case
A quarter century after the world's worst industrial disaster that killed over 15,000 people, a court today convicted former Union Carbide India chairman Keshub Mahindra and seven others in the Bhopal Gas tragedy case and awarded them a maximum of two years imprisonment.
However, 89-year-old Warren Anderson, the then Chairman of Union Carbide Corporation of USA, who lives in the United States, appeared to have gone scot free for the present as he is still an absconder and did not subject himself to trial.
There was no word about him in the judgement delivered by Chief Judicial Magistrate Mohan P Tiwari 23 years after trial commenced.
All the convicts applied for bail immediately after the sentencing and were granted relief in the case, the judgement of which comes against the backdrop of a debate on the Civil Nuclear Liability bill which would provide for compensation to victims in case of a nuclear disaster.
Tiwari pronounced the verdict in a packed court room convicting 85-year-old Mahindra, the non-executive former chairman of UCIL, and seven others in the case relating to leakage of deadly methyl isocyanate gas in the night intervening December 2 and 3, 1984.
They were held guilty under Sections 304-A (causing death by negligence), 304-II (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) and 336, 337 and 338 (gross negligence) of the Indian Penal Code.
Others found guilty were Vijay Gokhle, the then managing director of UCIL, Kishore Kamdar, the then vice president, J N Mukund, the then works manager, S P Choudhary, the then production manager, K V Shetty, the then plant superintendent and S I Quereshi, the then production assistant.
Mahindra, who had declined a Padma Bhushan award in 2002 on grounds that he was facing trial in the case, and six others were present to hear the judgement while Quereshi was represented by his counsel. The sentencing for Quereshi is yet to be announced.
They were sentenced to two years imprisonment and awarded a fine of Rs 1 lakh each under section 304(a), imprisonment of 3 months and a fine of Rs 250 under Sec 336, 6 months and Rs 500 under Sec 337 and 2 years and Rs 1,000 under Sec 338. All the sentences will run concurrently.
Civil rights activists fighting for the families of victims of the disaster called the judgement "too little, too late" and accused the prosecution and CBI of failing the victims by diluting the charges.
The market regulator’s meeting with banks to discuss strategies to boost volumes on online MF platforms has failed to achieve a breakthrough
As it stands now, the market watchdog's pitch to the bankers for using their distribution network to boost sales on the struggling mutual fund platforms on the stock exchanges has failed to elicit a healthy response from the banking community.
The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), in its high-level meeting with bank sponsored AMCs (asset management companies) and their respective retail banking heads, made a passionate case for tapping the banks' existing infrastructure and consumer reach to boost volumes on the Bombay Stock Exchange's (BSE) StAR MF platform and National Stock Exchange's (NSE) NEAT Mutual Fund Service System (MFSS). However, this meeting, which lasted for more than an hour, has not gone the way of the regulator.
The meeting was attended by senior officials from both the stock exchanges, namely, NSE's deputy MD Chitra Ramakrishna and BSE's deputy CEO Ashish Chauhan. The banking community was also represented by some banks like Union Bank of India, State Bank of India, HSBC, Canara Bank and others. Surprisingly, however, a lot of senior level management from the banks and AMCs were not present for the meeting, despite SEBI's push for a high-level participation.
In the meeting, SEBI tried to persuade the participants to take the stock market route to funds by asking them to look at the long-term opportunity for the mutual fund industry, one which has seen an unfortunate reversal in fortunes since the regulator's controversial alterations in the structure of the industry. Pitching the stock market route as an attractive option, SEBI argued that since most of the KYC (know your customer) procedures were already done, there would be no further need for it.
Sources have revealed to Moneylife that most bank AMCs listened patiently but kept quiet throughout. An official representing one of the banks argued that if banks were to accept applications and process them (currently being handled by the registrar and transfer agents CAMS and Karvy), it would entail extra responsibility upon the bankers while offering little opportunity for remuneration.
One of the participating bankers told Moneylife that the meeting ended like any other called by SEBI in the recent past, adding that no breakthrough was achieved. Surprisingly, none of the stock brokers who actually use the NSE and BSE systems were present for the meeting. A source within the industry confided to us, "It is like asking road builders to drive on the road and not the car-owners for whom it is actually meant."
Moneylife had earlier written (http://www.moneylife.in/article/81/5841.html) how this plan to enlist banks to help boost sales of mutual fund schemes is unlikely to work. And so far it has not.
Distributors are keen to push MIPs due to upfront commissions offered by fund houses and the investor’s appetite for regular income
After market watchdog Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) cracked down on upfront commissions, mutual funds (MFs) have started pushing monthly income plans (MIPs). Income funds recorded a huge Rs1.77 lakh crore of inflows in the month of April 2010 while equity schemes saw an outflow of Rs1,333 crore.
MIPs guarantee a regular flow of monthly income with minimal exposure towards equity. These schemes carry 1% exit load if redeemed before one year. These funds have 70%-90% exposure towards debt and 10%-30% in equity.
According to sources, fund houses are offering 1%-1.5% upfront commission under MIPs.
"There is an appetite for it. Since the equity markets have turned choppy there was a need for regular income products. There is a demand for such funds. So there is a pull factor. Commission is not an only factor. Even ELSS schemes offered as high as 2.50% commission but if you see the sale of ELSS schemes of all MFs it won't be more than Rs150 crore," said a top official from a leading fund house.
Fund houses were offering 2%-4% upfront commission under equity-linked saving schemes (ELSS). ELSS schemes usually have a lock-in period of three years. In the belief that an investor would stay invested in the fund for the entire period, fund houses were passing on the commission in advance.
Earlier, equity schemes offered 2.25% upfront commission and 0.25% was deducted as service tax.
Sources indicate that distributors are not offering any pass-backs to investors under MIPs. The reasoning is that there is no upfront commission granted now.
"Many distributors have sold MIPs from the last six to eight months very aggressively. Investors sometime compare MIPs to post office schemes but the returns can sometime be negative," said a Mumbai-based financial advisor.
The regulator had banned entry loads in August 2009. But fund houses had the leeway to offer commission from their own profit & loss accounts. SEBI in its circular dated 15 March 2010 had mandated fund houses not to deduct commissions from fund expenses. MIPs are currently allowed to charge a maximum of 2.5% as annual recurring expenses. AMCs were paying upfront commissions which included trail of either one to three years or after negotiating the terms with the distributor.