Court reserves order on charge framing against Essar, Loop promoters

The five persons facing CBI charges of cheating and criminal conspiracy in the case are Essar group promoters Ravi Ruia and Anshuman Ruia and Loop Telecom promoters IP Khaitan and Kiran Khaitan, besides Essar group director Vikash Saraf

New Delhi: A Delhi Court on Friday reserved its order for 25th May on framing of charges against Essar group and Loop Telecom promoters for allegedly committing offences of cheating and criminal conspiracy for obtaining the 2G spectrum licences from government, reports PTI.

"Put up for order on 25th May. All the five accused person shall remain present in the court in person (on 25 May 2012)," Special CBI Judge OP Saini said after the CBI concluded its arguments on framing of charges.

The five persons who face the CBI charges of cheating and criminal conspiracy in the case are Essar group promoters Ravi Ruia and Anshuman Ruia and Loop Telecom promoters IP Khaitan and Kiran Khaitan, besides Essar group Director (Strategy and Planning) Vikash Saraf as accused in the case.

Besides the five, the CBI has also named in its charge sheet, filed on December 2012, three companies -- Loop Telecom Pvt Ltd, Loop Mobile India Ltd and Essar Teleholdings Ltd also as accused in the case.

Advancing arguments on framing of charges, CBI counsel AK Singh said Loop Telecom played "hide and seek" with the Department of Telecom (DoT) and concealed information from it regarding their relationship with Essar Group.

Referring to the conduct of Loop Telecom, he said, "first the company had not filed the clause 8 (of the Unified Access Services Licences guidelines) certificate which was mandatory to be submitted at the time of filing of the application (for spectrum) and secondly, when it gave the certificate on the asking of DoT, it submitted the same with incomplete information."

He said this shows that Loop Telecom was "concealing vital information about its relation with Essar group which is the subject matter of the case."

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SC refuses to entertain Air India's plea against Indian Pilots Guild

The IPG, whose members have been reporting sick, are protesting the national carrier's move to send pilots from both Air India and erstwhile Indian Airlines in equal numbers to get trained for flying the Boeing 787 Dreamliners

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday refused to entertain Air India's plea for initiating contempt proceedings against Indian Pilots Guild (IPG) for allegedly obstructing implementation of its order on training of pilots for Dreamliner aircraft, reports PTI.

A bench headed by Justice TS Thakur said that they (pilots) have done nothing which amounts to contempt of court and suggested the airlines to speak with them to sort out the differences.

"They have done nothing for obstruction of justice or to bring disrepute to the court. Your problem is with them. You sit with them and sort out the differences. Don't resort to contempt proceedings," the bench said.

It further said that if the strike is illegal, then the airlines can take action against them. "Rest assured that if there is slightest contempt of court, then we would ourselves initiate proceedings against them," the bench further said.

Air India on Thursday moved the apex court seeking initiation of criminal contempt proceedings against the office bearers of the Guild by resorting to protest action, which, it said, disrupted international flight operations of the airline and amounted to contempt of the apex court orders.

Air India had said the action of the IPG was in violation of the 23rd April and 2nd May orders of the apex court by which it was made clear that the training programme will be imparted in equal ratio to the pilots of pre-merger Air India and erstwhile Indian Airlines.

The IPG, whose members have been reporting sick, are protesting the national carrier's move to send pilots from both Air India and erstwhile Indian Airlines in equal numbers to get trained for flying the Boeing 787 Dreamliners, the first of which is likely to be inducted later this month.

The training programme is going on from 8th May in Singapore.

Air India's counsel Lalit Bhasin had said the "armtwisting" act by the IPG was coming in the way of administration of justice.

The matter reached the Supreme Court after Air India had appealed against 13th March order of the Bombay High Court which had restrained the national carrier from sending any pilot from Indian Airlines for training to fly Boeing 787.

Later, on 23rd April, the High Court order was stayed by the apex court which had made it clear "that the training imparted to the members of the IPG shall remain subject to the final outcome of the writ petition and shall not prejudice the rights and contentions of the writ petitioners before the High Court in any manner".

The apex court had asked the High Court to expeditiously deal with the matter and dispose it of within six months. However, IPG had filed an application in the apex court.

During the hearing of the application, Air India had submitted that "an equal number of pilots, as have been deputed from the erstwhile Air India, shall be deputed for training from out of the erstwhile Indian Airlines pilots also with effect from 8 May 2012 on a Boeing facility".

The court had noted that "in the light of the statement the apprehension expressed by the petitioner/applicant (IPG) that only Air India pilots are being or may be deputed for such training is misplaced".

The 2nd May order also recorded the statement of IPG's counsel that the statement Air India's lawyer was "indeed sufficient to allay the apprehension expressed in the application".

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India Post to set up 1000 ATMs at post offices

An application for converting post offices into banks has been made to the and once implemented, coverage of the banking network in the country will increase three-fold in one go

New Delhi: The Department of Post plans to set up 1000 ATMs at post offices and convert them into banks for taking core banking to unbanked population using the vast postal network, reports PTI.

Replying to supplementaries during Question Hour in Rajya Sabha, Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal said there are 154,688 post offices in the country, the largest postal network in the world. Of these 25,154 are departmental post offices and the rest Gramin Dak Sewak (GDS) managed post offices which are predominantly in the rural areas. These post offices, he said, can double up as banks once they are computerised.

About 24,969 departmental post offices have been computerised as on 31st March, out of which 19,890 have been provided with network connectivity. The GDS managed post offices will be computerised under a comprehensive IT project for which an outlay of Rs1,877.2 crore has been made, he said.

"Introduction of core banking in networked post offices and setting up of 1,000 ATMs is also part of this project," he said.

An application for converting post offices into banks has been made to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). Once implemented, coverage of the banking network in the country will increase three-fold in one go, he said.

Mr Sibal said financial services at post office will cost a fraction of the cost of setting up a bank branch.

Besides, post offices could also double up as retail intermediaries, buying rural products, besides being delivery vehicle for schemes like Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA). "This is what we need to be doing. I hope we have resources," he said.

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