New Delhi: Diversified business group Godrej Industries has set up a $50 million venture capital (VC) fund along with a set of individuals to invest in agri start-ups, reports PTI.
"A venture capital fund is being promoted by Godrej Agrovet in partnership with other professionals for funding the start-ups in agriculture," according to Adi Godrej, chairman Godrej Group.
The new venture, Omnivore Capital, is targeting a corpus of $50 million (about Rs228 crore), to which Godrej will contribute 10%.
"Godrej Agrovet will pool in $5 million to the fund and rest would be raised by other professionals associated with the fund," Mr Godrej said. He, however, did not name the other partners.
Asked whether Omnivore has already identified projects for investments, Mr Godrej said nothing has been finalised so far.
"There are preliminary talks going on with several people but nothing has been finalised so far. The fund will look at innovative agri-projects in India and abroad," he added.
Godrej Agrovet, the agri business division of the group, deals with products and services that increase crop and livestock yields.
The company has interests in animal feed, oil palm plantations, agri-inputs and poultry, and registered total sales of Rs1,576 crore in 2009-10.
New Delhi: The steel ministry today said it may seek concessions for state-owned firms like SAIL and NMDC from the 26% profit sharing rule, proposed in the draft mining bill, as the PSUs have been fulfilling social obligations for long, reports PTI.
"Some special consideration has to be given to public sector undertakings (PSUs) for the historical role (in social obligations) being undertaken in different parts of the country," steel minister Virbhadra Singh said when asked if PSUs would be exempted from the mandatory profit sharing regime being proposed in the new mining bill.
Mr Singh said, however, that he wasn't in favour of complete exemption from the proposed rule for the PSUs. He was speaking on the sidelines of the inaugural session of International Federation of Consulting Engineers here.
Mr Singh's comments come days after a ministerial panel, headed by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, reached a consensus to give the go-ahead to the draft mining bill, which seeks that miners share 26% of profits with local people affected by their mining projects.
The bill has now been sent to the mines ministry for fine tuning and the final draft is to be placed before the Group of Ministers (GoM) at its next meeting.
The new Bill, likely to be placed in the Winter session of Parliament, seeks to expedite grant of mining rights in a transparent manner and attract big investments in the sector.
SAIL chairman C S Verma had said in Kolkata last week, "Captive mines should be kept out of its (new legislation's) purview. We cannot sell what we mine. It is for our captive use."
SAIL has captive iron ore and coking coal blocks in various parts of the country.
Besides SAIL, the steel ministry is the administrative head of companies like NMDC, Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Ltd and MOIL.
NMDC is the country's largest iron ore producer, while RINL is a steel manufacturer.
The new bill has proposed that a fund — District Mineral Foundation — be created and the beneficiaries be paid out from it.
Besides, it proposes that in case of a mine being non-functional or in losses, companies should compensate the people affected by land acquisition by paying them amount equal to the royalty given to state governments.
The royalty paid by mining companies to state governments runs into hundreds of crores of rupees.
Senior Supreme Court lawyer provides details of cases and instances of “corruption” in the higher judiciary
After former law minister Shanti Bhushan has sought to implead himself in the contemption petition filed against his son, Prashant Bhushan for his comments in a magazine interview, the latter has filed a second affidavit in the contempt petition before the Supreme Court of India. This time, he says, "since the order of this court dated 14th July 2010 creates an impression that the court perhaps would only be satisfied if I were to produce evidence in support of the perception that I have voiced, I am constrained to place on record some of the evidence that was in my possession regarding the corruption of several of the former Chief Justices which I have mentioned."
It may be recalled that the contempt petition was filed by Harish Salve, acting as amicus curiae to the Supreme Court, in connection with Prashant Bhushan's claim that "out of the last 16 to 17 Chief Justices, half had been corrupt." Since then, Mr Shanti Bhushan has said that eight of the 16 Supreme Court judges were definitely corrupt and six were definitely honest, while there can be no clear opinion about the remaining two.
Mr Bhushan says, "It is exceedingly difficult to get documentary evidence of corruption in the higher judiciary". He points out that although corruption by judges is a cognisable offence, "even registration of FIRs and a regular criminal investigation has been prohibited against judges by the Supreme Court judgment in the Veeraswami case, without the written permission of the Chief Justice of India." Permission to file an FIR has not been granted even in a single case, leading to total immunity to corrupt judges against prosecution, says Mr Bhushan.
Prashant Bhushan's remarks to the magazine were in connection with the Vedanta case, where he believes that Jusice Kapadia passed "unconscionable orders"; however, he says, that he regards "Justice Kapadia to be a judge of financial integrity". According to Mr Bhushan, he is constrained to file a "more detailed second affidavit because the court chose not to react to his first affidavit, where he mentioned that Harish Salve who has filed this contempt application, styling himself as amicus curiae, had a conflict of interest in the matter himself, having held a retainer from Vedanta."
Mr Bhushan goes on to explain at great length why he considers the Vedanta order unconscionable and says that his stand is borne out by recent findings of the Ministry of Environment & Forests.
He charges that instead of taking various reports about Vedanta's violations, the "court didn't find time to hear the matter till the refinery came to be constructed, in violation of the Forest Conservation Act. The court then proceeded to grant forest clearance for the mining lease, without even hearing the tribals or dealing with the very serious issues raised by its own expert body. Ignoring all the above issues, the court merely said that it needs to balance environment with development and by ordering that 5% of the mining profits should be earmarked for social development, gone on to allow Sterlite, a sister company of Vedanta to set up the refinery and do the mining in this region despite noting that Vedanta must be blacklisted for its record of dishonesty."
Mr Bhushan's narration starts with Chief Justice Ranganath Mishra, who "as a judge of the Supreme Court presided over a Commission of Inquiry on the genocide of Sikhs in 1984. He conducted the inquiry proceedings in a highly biased manner and went on to give a clean chit to the Congress party, despite there being considerable evidence implicating senior leaders of the Congress party. The evidence against the Congress leaders and party has come out in subsequent official inquiry reports as well as in the subsequent CBI investigations. He went on after his retirement to agree to become a Rajya Sabha MP of the Congress party".
Chief Justice KN Singh who followed Justice Ranganath Mishra, he says, "passed a series of unusually benevolent orders in favour of Jain Exports, and its sister concern Jain Shudh Vanaspati. Several of these were passed during his 18-day tenure as Chief Justice, and many of these cases were ordered to be listed before him by oral mentioning. This became such a talked about scandal in the corridors of the Court that eventually in a hearing on 9th December 1991, the counsel for the Union of India was forced to object to the manner in which the cases came to be listed before Justice KN Singh's bench. All these judgments came to be reviewed and reversed later by a series of subsequent benches, in some of which, the review petitions were heard in open court, in a departure from the normal procedure". The affidavit provides several details about the twists and turns in the Jain case and how they were a "much talked about scandal in the Court, even while he was Chief Justice".
Next, he says, Chief Justice AM Ahmadi who succeeded Justice Venkatachalaiah went on to quash the charge of culpable homicide in the criminal case arising out of the Bhopal Gas leak. Seven benches were changed during the hearing of this case, the only common judge in all these benches was Justice Ahmadi who was Chief Justice. It is this that "led to such miscarriage of justice, that the Supreme Court has thought it fit to issue notice on a curative petition filed by the CBI even 14 years after that judgment". Justice Ahmadi also "went on to deal with and pass several orders in the Union Carbide case involving the setting up of a hospital from the sale proceeds of Union Carbide India" and releasing Rs187 crore for the construction of the hospital, from the attached funds of Union Carbide". He went on to become the lifetime Chairman of the same hospital trust whose case he had extensively dealt with as Chief Justice.
Next, Bhushan says, "A Supreme Court bench headed by Justice Kuldip Singh had on 10/5/96 passed an order staying all construction within 5km of Badkal and Surajkund Lakes in Faridabad for environmental reasons", yet Justice Ahmadi as Chief Justice, purchased a plot in the same development and went on to construct a palatial house there. He also reviewed all the orders of Justice Kuldip Singh and diluted them with many modifications. He says, "I regard Justice Ahmadi's actions in all this as morally culpable and indeed corrupt. They had become a much talked about scandal in the corridors of the court as well as among judges at that time".
In case of Justice MM Punchhi, he points out that 'the Committee on Judicial Accountability had prepared an impeachment motion which had been signed by more than 25 members of the Rajya Sabha, but did not get the requisite number of signatures since he went on to become Chief Justice of India". Bhushan goes on to outline "six extremely serious charges" that were part of the impeachment motion against the judge. These included the acquittal of KN Tapuria case, dismissal of a writ petition "containing serious allegations of malafides against the then Chief Minister of Haryana Shri Bhajan Lal".
Bhushan says "Justice Punchhi was succeeded by Dr AS Anand who too enjoyed a very controversial tenure as Chief Justice of India. During his tenure, evidence of several acts of very serious misconduct came to light and came to the possession of the Committee on Judicial Accountability. As a result of this, an impeachment motion was also prepared by the Committee on Judicial Accountability against Justice Anand which contained 4 serious charges". This included, acceptance of "gratification" from one Krishna Kumar Amla "in the form of a 2 Kanal plot of land at Ganderbal, Shrinagar". The other charges against Justice Anand include getting land in Gandhinagar in Jammu at a fraction of the market price, "abuse of influence and authority" to abet his "wife and mother-in-Law in filing a suit based on false averments in a civil court in Madhya Pradesh" and using his "influence to get the State Government of M.P. to withdraw the Special Leave Petition filed by the State against his wife". Bhushan says that despite this, it was not possible to get an impeachment motion against Justice Anand.
He next mentions the well known case of Justice YK Sabharwal who allegedly "passed a series of orders for sealing commercial properties in Delhi" forcing them to shift to large shopping malls and commercial complexes in which his sons had become partners. The sons, operating out of Justice Sabharwal's official residence were also allotted commercial plots by the Mulayam Singh/Amar Singh government of U.P. at concessional rates. It is Justice Sabharwal who stayed the publication of the infamous Amar Singh tapes.
Bhushan says that he has provided all the "documentary information on record to dispel any impression that my remarks were baseless or made with reckless disregard to the truth".
It remains to be seen how this case will play out. But the harsh glare of the media, the seniority of the counsel involved and pressure from a few former Chief Justices to ensure that the apex court acts soon to clear its name will surely mean that this is one judgment that will definitely not be delayed.