CBI files fresh status report on 2G spectrum probe

New Delhi: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) today filed a fresh status report in the Supreme Court on its ongoing investigation into the second generation (2G) spectrum scam allegedly involving former telecom minister A Raja, responding to posers by the judges and explaining in detail the nature of the probe, reports PTI.

Sources said that the report filed in sealed cover before a bench comprising justices GS Singhvi and AK Ganguly gives details about the probe since the registration of an FIR against unknown persons on 21st October, last year. The agency has given "replies to the concerns of the court raised till the last hearing on Thursday," they said.

"There are also replies to the concerns expressed by the judges on Thursday. So many comments were made by the judges and the status report will seek to clear the air," they said.

The apex court on 25th November (Thursday) wanted to know from the CBI why it had not questioned Mr Raja and his private secretary and had said the agency was "beating around the bush" when "illegality is prima facie evident."

The sources said that the status report given to two judges in separate sealed covers explains the nature of investigation done on the basis of massive amount of documents and several hours of tapes containing national and international trails.

"The investigation has dimensions, both in India and abroad," they said, adding that the details have been submitted in sealed covers because any reliance on the contents in open court will gravely prejudice the investigation.

"The names of the individuals and companies associated with the scam have been investigated," they said.

The report has made it clear that the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report projecting that the 2G spectrum allocation scam has caused a loss of Rs1.76 lakh crore to the state exchequer was based on the documents submitted by the CBI in 2009.

"Since then there has been much additional material which the CBI is only privy to," the sources said.

The first report filed by the CBI to the court was returned to the agency by the bench which had asked it file a comprehensive report.

The hearing in the case will resume on Tuesday.


TRAI to impose hefty penalties on unwanted calls from Tuesday

New Delhi: In a move that will give major relief to millions of subscribers, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) will tomorrow announce new guidelines to curb the menace of unsolicited calls by imposing hefty penalties on errant telemarketing firms and operators, reports PTI.

Besides hefty penalties, telemarketing firms would be allotted a separate series of numbers beginning with '700' that would allow subscribers to recognise their calls and decide whether to accept or reject them.

According to sources, TRAI has proposed to impose a penalty of up to Rs2 lakh on telemarketing firms against whom complaints have been received six times, before blocking the number, while service providers that violate mobile users' 'do not call' instructions four times face a fine of up to Rs10 lakh.

It will be the responsibility of both telemarketing firms, as well as service providers, to ensure that subscribers who have opted for not getting such calls are not harassed by telemarketers, as per the new TRAI guidelines.

"We will bring out the regulations on unsolicited calls tomorrow," TRAI sources said.

TRAI had released a consultation paper titled, "Review of Telecom Unsolicited Commercial Communications Regulations", in May this year.

Unsolicited commercial communications are one of the growing concerns of telecom consumers worldwide.

The government had earlier formed a "National Do Not Call" (NDNC) Registry in 2007. However, consumers continued to complain about unsolicited commercial communications by way of calls, as well as SMSes.

Sources said that as per the revised recommendations, TRAI has proposed a fine of Rs25,000 for the first offence by a telemarketing company, which would go up to Rs75,000 in case of a second violation, Rs80,000 for the third, Rs1.25 lakh for the fourth, Rs1.50 lakh for the fifth and Rs2 lakh for the sixth offence, following which the number will be blocked by all service providers.

All telemarketing companies will have to submit security deposits with the service providers in advance.

Similarly, the service providers would also be subject to hefty penalties ranging from up to Rs1 lakh for the first offence to up to Rs10 lakh for the fourth offence.


Experts peg Q2 GDP growth at 8.1%-8.5%

New Delhi: Slackening industrial expansion is expected to pull down economic growth in the range of 8.1% to 8.5% during July-September this fiscal from 8.8% in the previous quarter, reports PTI quoting experts.

The economic growth data for the July-September quarter is scheduled to be released on Tuesday.

The Indian economy, which had expanded 8.8% in the previous quarter, is the second fastest growing large economy after China that had registered a growth of 10.3% in the April-June quarter and 9.6% in the September quarter.

In the corresponding period of the last fiscal, the economy had grown by 8.6%.

"We expect the gross domestic product (GDP) growth for second quarter to be 8.2%. A slowdown in industrial demand and also high base of last year would bring down the numbers from that recorded in the previous quarter," HDFC Bank chief economist Abheek Barua said.

Experts said the persistent slowdown in the industrial production activity could dampen the growth prospects.

Factory output growth declined the most in 16 months to 4.4% in September, reflecting a general slowdown in demand across sectors on the back of the successive monetary tightening moves by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to rein in high inflation.

In the previous month as well, the industrial production expanded at a sluggish pace of 6.91%, sharply down from 14.99% in July. As such, factory production grew by 8.69% in the second quarter of this fiscal.

"We expect Q2 growth at 8.5%. There has not been much agricultural activity during the quarter and industrial growth has also been slow," Axis Bank chief economist Saugata Bhattacharya said.

According to HDFC Bank estimates, agriculture output is expected to grow by 4%, industry by 8.7% and services sector by 8.8%.

"We estimate real GDP was 8.1% in Q2. The likely softening in the GDP growth rate, despite a bounce back in agriculture, reflects slower manufacturing growth and a high base," Barclays Capitals said in a research note.

However, valuing inflation in new base could push the GDP figures higher.

"If the new deflator is introduced in calculating inflation, this could push up the GDP numbers. However, the impact will be difficult to ascertain," Mr Barua said.

Deflators are used for converting GDP at current prices to constant prices.

In the June quarter, agriculture and allied activities grew by 2.8% and manufacturing expanded by strong 12.4%.

The government expects the growth to top 8.5% in the current fiscal.

"We expect the economic growth in the current fiscal to be at 8.7%," Mr Bhattacharya said.

GDP growth slowed to 6.7% in 2008-09 from 9% in the previous three financial years due to global economic meltdown.

However, the government's stimulus packages and stepped-up public spending helped push growth to 7.4% in FY'10.


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