If fundamental rights can be taken away from those who have been charged but not proven guilty, why cannot the same apply to politicians?” Chief Election Commission said at a seminar titled “Democracy at Crossroads—Need for Electoral Reforms” organised by Moneylife Foundation and V Citizens Action Network (VCAN)
“We have been asking the government to debar criminals from contesting election. People send us hate mails saying how can the Election Commission (EC) allow such candidates to contest? But this is not in our hands. The law has to do that. Our proposal to debar criminal from contesting elections is pending with government since 1998,” said Dr SY Quraishi, India’s Chief Election Commission (CEC). He was speaking at a seminar titled “Democracy at Crossroads—Need for Electoral Reforms” organised by Moneylife Foundation and V Citizens Action Network (VCAN).
He said that, “A few years back we had a meeting with the law ministry on this issue. But they all disagreed with us. This is because they all have a quota of candidates with criminal backgrounds.” The political parties argue that law of the land is—one is innocent until he is proven guilty—and so you cannot debar anybody from contesting elections just because they have a charge against them. But Dr Quraishi has an interesting argument against it. “My argument is that India has around 2.68 lakh under-trials out of the total 4 lakh prisoners. This is means they are still not proved guilty. But four of their fundamental rights—liberty, right to occupation, freedom of movement and dignity—are taken away from them despite the fact that they have not been proven guilty. If fundamental rights can be taken away from those who have been charged but not proven guilty, why cannot the same apply to politicians, especially since the right to contest elections of an alleged criminal is not even a fundamental right?”
According to EC, politicians argue that there are often false complaints filed to defame them. “To this we have certain safeguards. Firstly, we don’t look into cases of petty crimes like abusing or slapping someone, etc, but only that of heinous crimes like rape, dacoity, murder, etc. Secondly, such cases had to be filed six months before the election. It can’t be just before the day of election. Lastly, charges must have been framed charges against those candidates by the court of law. This is a bigger safeguard.”
He also highlighted that in such cases politicians argue that there is no judicial application of mind. “But I challenge this argument. As we know such cases are tried only in the district courts and then goes to high court, if appealed. If the district court, which is independent, has framed charges, it definitely has some weightage. So there is judicial application of mind even if it is prima facie at that stage. I have spoken to few judges and they agreed to it. They (judges) also say that at such a stage the case can be thrown out and many of the cases come to appeal at the HC. So it is very much legal.”
Dr Quraishi said that despite no power to debar candidates with criminal backgrounds, they are closely watched. “We always have innovative measures for such candidates. One of them is that we keep a video watch on them 24x7. And if they are caught doing anything wrong, we take strict action and can also debar them from contesting elections.”
He adds, “We have other preventive measures. Like during elections in Uttar Pradesh (UP) 27,000 people were held as preventive arrest, 17 lakh people of bad character were identified and were asked to sign a bond for good behaviour during elections and orders were given to act on the pending non-bailable warrants for many years, as these might be the possible criminals to be used for disrupting election process.
Nifty has to close above any previous day’s high for the downtrend to reverse
Weak global cues and domestic growth concerns weighed on the market, pulling it down for the second day. On an above 10-day moving average volume of 86.83 crore shares on the National Stock Exchange (NSE) on account of the futures and options expiry day, the Nifty fell marginally by 16 points. Yesterday we had mentioned that the index has to breach 5,170 or 5,275 to set a direction. Today the index fell below the lower range and settled slightly above it. If the benchmark manages to close above 5,195, the downtrend may be arrested.
The market opened lower amid weak global cues and concerns over the new taxes proposed by the finance minister in the Budget, which would come into effect shortly. On the global front, dismal economic data pulled down US stocks overnight while markets in Asia were mostly lower in early trade on worries about the slowdown in growth. The Nifty opened 49 points down at 5,146 and the Sensex resumed trade at 17,040, down 82 points from its previous close.
The market was range-bound till noon trade in the absence of any triggers and touched the day’s lows around 12.30pm. At the lows, the Nifty fell to 5,136 and the Sensex went below the 17,000 level to touch 16,921.
Bargain hunting at lower levels saw a splendid recovery in the post-noon trade, which enabled the market hit its intraday high. At that point, the Nifty was at 5,194 and the Sensex 17,109. However, the market closed negative. The Nifty settled 16 points lower at 5,179 and the Sensex finished the session at 17,059, down 63 points.
The advance-decline ratio on the NSE was tilted in favour of the gainers at 943:773.
The broader markets outperformed the Sensex as the BSE Mid-cap index rose 0.16% and the BSE Small-cap index climbed 0.70%.
Among the sectoral indices, BSE Healthcare (up 0.92%); BSE Consumer Durables (up 0.88%); BSE Auto (up 0.67%); BSE Metal (up 0.39%) and BSE Realty (up 0.35%) were the top gainers.BSE Capital Goods (down 1.61%); BSE IT (down 1.17%); BSE TECk (down 1.01%); BSE Fast Moving Consumer Goods (down 0.65%) and BSE Bankex (down 0.15%) were the key losers.
The key performers on the Sensex were Jindal Steel (up 4.42%); Tata Power (up 2.99%); Hero MotoCorp (up 1.55%); Wipro (up 1.27%) and ONGC (up 1.14%). The top laggards were Larsen & Toubro (down 2.09%); Infosys (down 1.78%); TCS (down 1.71%); Bharti Airtel (down 1.60%) and BHEL (down 1.35%).
The Nifty was led by Tata Power (up 7.11%); Ranbaxy (up 6.20%); Jindal Steel (up 3.71%); Bharat Petroleum Corporation (up 3.28%) and Jaiprakash Associates (up 2.34%). Siemens (down 3.26%); Reliance Communications (down 2.67%); L&T (down 2.08%); Bharti Airtel (down 2.01%) and Sterlite Industries (down 1.78%) settled lower.
Markets in Asia settled mostly lower on concerns about global growth and its impact on quarterly earnings of corporates. A weak trend in the US markets overnight also weighed on the markets.
The Shanghai Composite tanked 1.43%; the Hang Seng dropped 1.32%; the Nikkei 225 declined 0.67%; the Straits Times fell by 0.85%; the Seoul Composite slipped by 0.85% and the Taiwan Weighted tumbled 2.06%. Bucking the trend, the Jakarta Composite gained 0.365 and the KLSE Composite rose 0.11%. At the time of writing, the key European indices were down between 0.89% and 1.12% and the US stock futures were trading lower.
Back home, foreign institutional investors were net sellers of shares totalling Rs148.06 crore on Wednesday while domestic institutional investors were net buyers of stocks aggregating Rs73.03 crore.
Essar Oil today announced completion of Rs8,300-crore expansion of its Vadinar oil refinery in Gujarat that will boost company's turnover by 30-35%, besides improving margins. The Vadinar Refinery is now India’s second largest single-location refinery, with an annual capacity of 18 million tonnes (up from 14 million tonnes currently) and a complexity of 11.8, which also makes it among the world's most complex refineries. The stock declined 0.19% to close at Rs52.40 on the NSE.
Conglomerate Adani Enterprises may spend close to Rs3,400 crore for adding as many as 17 more ships to its current fleet by 2020. The company which owns two vessels for ferrying fuel from its overseas coal mines, recently acquired one more ship for the purpose. The stock jumped 4.50% to settle at Rs297 on the NSE.
Pharma major Lupin expects its US business will grow 20-25% in fiscal 2012-13 (April-March), helped by a strong pipeline of generic drugs. The company is also expecting over 20% growth in its India operations. The stock settled 0.51% higher at Rs519.25 on the NSE.
Most jewellery houses remained closed ever since the Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee in his budget proposals on 16 March 2012 announced 1% levy on unbranded jewellery and doubling of import duty to 4% on gold
The strike by bullion traders and jewellers to protest the proposed increase in import duty on gold and imposition of excise duty on unbranded jewellery entered the 13th day today.
Most jewellery houses remained closed ever since the Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee in his budget proposals on 16 March 2012 announced 1% levy on unbranded jewellery and doubling of import duty to 4% on gold.
Striking associations in different part of the country have collectively decided to go for a complete closure of bullion markets in major as well as small towns on Friday, said All India Sarafa Association president Sheel Chand Jain.
He said the strike will go on for an indefinite period until the government rollback the taxes imposed on the bullion trade.
However, bowing to protests by jewellers and demands in Parliament, the Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee earlier this week hinted at a rollback of the excise duty on unbranded jewellery but ruled out a similar move in case of the hike in import duty on gold and platinum.
“I understand the plight of small jewellers... I am considering it... The period that will be available from now and [passage of] Finance Bill, I will come out with an acceptable formulation,” Mukherjee had said in his reply to the general discussion on the Budget in the Lok Sabha.
Market sources claimed that the industry has lost business of over Rs18,000 crore in the last 12 days even as demand is picking up for the marriage season.
The government had proposed a hike in import duty on gold bars, coins and platinum to 4% from 2%, after doubling the tax in January. A levy on gold ore, concentrate and so-called dore bars (a semi-pure alloy of gold and silver) for refining will be doubled to 2% and an excise tax on refined gold will climb to 3% from 1.5%.
Traders have warned that imposition of higher levies may lead to a rise in retail gold prices by over 6% in the country, which is seeking to rein in a widening current account-deficit partly fuelled by record purchases in 2011.