Companies & Sectors
DGH disagrees with Kelkar Committee report on exploration contracts

DGH Choubey, who was part of the Kelkar Committee, has said that the panel had exceeded its brief and quoted data that had no attributable author or source

The Director General of Hydrocarbons (DGH) has put in a strong note of dissent against the Vijay Kelkar Committee suggestion to continue the present regime of allowing oil and gas producers to recover costs before paying the government its share.

 

RN Choubey, the DGH, who was also part of the Kelkar Committee, said in the note that the panel had exceeded its brief and quoted data that had no attributable author or source.

 

Sources with direct knowledge of the development said the panel, in Chapter 2 of its report, recommended continuation of the present production sharing contract (PSC) framework for the oil and gas sector, which allows for cost recovery by exploration and production (E&P) companies before they pay the government its share.

 

This was in contrast to the suggestion by the Prime Minister-appointed Rangarajan Committee to shift to a revenue-sharing model that would require companies to share a biddable amount of oil or gas output with the government from the first day of production, irrespective of cost.

 

Sources said Choubey in the note pointed out that the Oil Ministry had initially asked the Kelkar panel to review the recommendation of the Rangarajan committee but later withdrew that from the terms of reference.

 

The Kelkar panel, which was essentially asked to suggest ways to increase oil and gas output, also said there was little incentive for investors to "gold plate" costs or go for "wilful under-production," an apparent reference to the controversy around cost escalation at Reliance Industries' KG-D6 field and production falling below target.

 

Kelkar, who was oil secretary from 1995 to 1997, submitted the first part of his report last week.

 

Choubey, was of the view that since the review of the Rangarajan panel report was outside its purview, the Kelkar Committee should not have included Chapter 2.

 

Incidentally, an association of oil and gas operators such as Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) and BP have opposed dumping the cost-recovery model in favour of the revenue-sharing framework.

 

Choubey also contested the Kelkar panel conclusion that developing projects under the PSC regime would result in an additional 7 billion barrels of oil equivalent compared with the revenue regime, saying it wasn't clear how and who made these calculations.

 

Incidentally, Chapter 2, which concludes that "There is little incentive for the investor (i) to 'gold plate' or (ii) for wilful under-production," is not mentioned in the committee's executive summary.

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EPFO raises provident fund interest rates to 8.75% for FY14

The EPFO had surplus funds, which enabled it to raise interest rate to 8.75% for 2013-14 from 8.5% in the previous financial year

Retirement fund body Employees' Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) on Monday decided to increase the rate of interest on provident fund (PF) deposits to 8.75% for 2013-14, a move that will benefit about five crore subscribers.

 

Labour Minister Oscar Fernandes told reporters after a meeting of the EPFO trustees that "We have decided to recommend to the government 8.75% rate of interest for 2013-14 to its subscribers".

 

The Central Board of Trustees, which is the apex decision-making body of the EPFO, met on Monday and approved the interest rate.

 

According to sources, the body had surplus funds, which enabled the interest rate to be increased from 8.5% in the previous financial year (2012-13).

 

The EPFO's recommendation will be vetted by the Finance Ministry. Once the ministry approves the decision, the interest would be credited to the accounts of subscribers.

 

According to sources, the decision to enhance the rate was taken in view of the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls.

 

The EPFO is estimated to have an income of Rs20,796.96 crore in the current financial year.

 

Payment of interest at the rate of 8.5% to subscribers would have required Rs20,740 crore and left a surplus of Rs56.96 crore, according to earlier projections.

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Law intern moves SC for inquiry against Justice Swatanter Kumar

The law intern has challenged the Supreme Court's 5 December 2013 full court resolution in which it was decided that no complaint against its retired judges will be entertained

A former intern, who has made sexual harassment allegations against Justice Swatanter Kumar, on Monday moved the Supreme Court seeking inquiry against the retired judge.

 

A bench headed by Chief Justice P Sathasivam, before whom the matter was mentioned for urgent hearing, agreed to take up the case on 15th January.

 

The law intern, in the petition, challenged the apex court's 5 December 2013 full court resolution in which it was decided that no complaint against its retired judges will be entertained.

 

The petitioner also submitted that a proper forum be constituted to conduct inquiry in such cases and her complaint be also looked into by the apex court like it was done in the case of sexual harassment allegations against Justice (retd) AK Ganguly.

 

The intern has made Justice Kumar, Secretary General of the Supreme Court and Union of India parties in the case.

 

She submitted that Justice Kumar was a sitting judge at the time of the alleged incident and the apex court must look into the complaint as per Vishaka guidelines.

 

Justice Kumar, who is currently heading the National Green Tribunal, has described the allegations as "incredulous and false" and "some kind of conspiracy".

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COMMENTS

Aires Rodrigues

3 years ago

India’s Executive and the Legislature have been shrouded with scams and scandals but now it is extremely unfortunate that the integrity of the Judiciary the third very vital arm of the constitutional framework has also come to fore. After A.K Ganguly yet another former Supreme Court Judge Swatanter Kumar has now been embroiled in allegations of sexual misconduct by one of his former law intern.

It may be recalled that Justice Swatanter Kumar was appointed as Judge of the Supreme Court on 18th December 2009 just 12 days before he was due to retire. It was almost certain that he would never make it to the Supreme Court. Did he manage to pull a coup of sorts, clearly by apparent misuse of office and public funds?

It was revealed in information obtained under RTI in 2011 that the then Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court Swatanter Kumar had made two trips to Delhi in less than a week just before his elevation to the Supreme Court. Were these visits to Delhi by Justice Swatanter Kumar in October / November 2009 and his meeting in Goa with the then President of India Pratibha Patil on November 22nd 2009 to lobby for his elevation to the Supreme Court?

The then Bombay High Court Chief Justice Swatanter Kumar had traveled to Delhi on 19th November 2009 to meet the then Supreme Court Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan and he also met Justice S.H. Kapadia on 21st November. He was scheduled to return to Bombay on 23rd Nov.

However on 22nd November, Justice Swatanter Kumar flew from Delhi to Goa to attend a reception being hosted at Goa Raj Bhavan in honour of then President of India Mrs. Pratibha Patil who was on a visit to Goa.

Surprisingly on 23rd November Justice Swatanter Kumar flew back to Delhi from Goa by the early morning flight and returned to Mumbai the same day by the late evening flight. It is not known why Justice Swatanter Kumar had traveled to Delhi for the day. The Supreme Court collegium that same week recommended to President Mrs. Pratibha Patil the elevation of Justice Swatanter Kumar to the Supreme Court. This round trip Mumbai -Delhi- Goa – Delhi – Mumbai of Justice Swatanter Kumar cost the exchequer Rs 1, 16, 891. During his two year tenure as Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court Swatanter Kumar had made 14 official trips to Goa incurring a total traveling cost of Rs 4, 43,577.

Now with these serious allegations of gross misconduct slapped against Justice Swatanter Kumar, will the National Green Tribunal currently headed by him be re–christened as the Pink Tribunal. It would also have to be seen if he did some fondling and fiddling on those trips to Goa?. Very troubled and turbulent times for India’s Judiciary. After Ganguly and Swatanter Kumar who will the next villian be?. Time to clean up the stables.

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