Companies & Sectors
Government can withdraw security clearance to NRI-held company

The Delhi High Court said security clearance of an aviation company and its officers is required as the potential of an aircraft to carry out 'undesirable and dangerous activities' is higher than other mode of transport

New Delhi: the Government is entitled to withdraw its security clearance to directors of an NRI-held company or the firm itself in the interest of the country which has been subjected to repeated terrorists strikes, the Delhi High Court has held, reports PTI.

In an unusual sitting during vacation, Justice Vipin Sanghi, who is not among the two vacation judges, in his judgement pronounced on Monday, stayed 7th May order by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) suspending the permit of Ravi Rishi-led aviation firm Global Vectra Helicorp Ltd (GVHL) to operate its fleet of 23 choppers.

The court rejected the company's argument that only the directors and the chairman were required to get security clearance but not the firm.

"The requirement of security clearance of the managers-Chairman, Directors, etc of a company or body corporate, where the company is held by NRIs, is to safeguard against the presence of persons with doubtful credentials, who may act against the interests of India," the judge said.

The high court had yesterday stayed the order of the DGCA which had suspended the permit of GVHL to operate its fleet of choppers.

The company's clientele include oil companies and it also caters to tourist travels in northeast India.

The firm also operates flights to major shrines like Vaishno Devi and during the Amarnath Yatra.

Vectra Group is engaged in aviation, heavy engineering, real estate, information and technology and security systems.

The judge said, "India being subjected to repeated terrorist strikes by elements, who are sheltered beyond the boundaries of India, can be taken cognisance of, and, cannot be ignored. There is nothing in the Civil Aviation Requirements (CAR) to suggest that, apart from the specific officers of the company or body corporate, the company or body corporate itself would not be scrutinised for the purpose of granting security clearance."

The court was hearing Global Vectra's plea against the Union Home Ministry's decision to withdraw its security clearance, leading the DGCA to suspend its operation permit.

The high court said that the security clearance of an aviation firm as well as its officers was required as the potential of an aircraft to carry out "undesirable and dangerous activities" is higher than other mode of transport.

"The operation of any aircraft over the Indian territory is bound to involve internal security aspects. An aircraft has the potential to be used for anti-national activities such as the carrying out of unauthorised surveillance, espionage, attacks, smuggling of contrabands, and for transportation of persons, including fugitives.

"There may be several other undesirable purposes to which an aircraft could be put. The potential of an aircraft to carry out such undesirable and dangerous activities by its very nature, is higher than the other common mode of common transport...," the court said.

Citing some security-related situations, the court said, "Could it be said that the security clearance of such a company cannot be withdrawn, merely because its shareholders/ directors are not found to be of objectionable background, or because their conduct is not found to be objectionable from the public safety point of view? Once again, in my view, the answer has to be in the negative."

The court after going through the Home Ministry's files pertaining to Global Vectra said, "It would tantamount to a surrender of the sovereign power of the State, and failure of performance of one of its most fundamental obligations, if the State were not to act in any of the above situations, or any other appropriate situations, to withdraw the security clearance of the company/body corporate.

"Therefore, I reject the petitioners' submission that no security clearance was required to be obtained by, or granted to the company-Global Vectra, and the security clearance of Global Vectra could not have been withdrawn under any circumstance," the judge said.

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COMMENTS

Indian Citizen

4 years ago

This comment is purely my opinion with no aim to hurt or disrespectr anyone.

The point drawn here are very correct but how does one decide the security threat from an aviation company? Even the US of A was unable and is still not defined any particular criteria for such marking. Does being just a suspect (not proven as yet) in some financial irregularities, with no links with any of the terror groups, associations, forums or individual, with no personal from owner to directors or any staff, having any such links and all the pilots being from the Armed Forces background etc makes an organisation a security threat? What is the guarantee that a non NRI headed company will not pose a security threat. The hijackers of 9/11 did not belong to the company to which the aircraft belonged but they did their job. History is full of such examples. What if any personnel of the companies client organisation is an imposter and is prepared to carry out in human act. He will use any other aviation company if GVHL is not available to him and will carry out his task. So it implies that even all the companies who are utilising helicopters for their official requirement, must also be security cleared, all the people who travel by air be security cleared. Checks are in place for every threat but one cannot single out a company because it belongs to any one class of individuals.

So it's my opinion that the leading private helicopter company of India, with excellent professional and safety records and supporting so many families, must be prevented from becoming target to injustice. The past 15 years of glorious service in the field must not be ignored under any circumstances. And lastly, I feel that resident Indians also pose equal threat, if not more, than Non Residents.

Mumbai Metro I misses deadline again, would be ready by March 13

This is for the fourth time that the deadline for the first phase of the 12 kilometre Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar corridor has been extended

Mumbai: Mumbaikars will now have to wait for another nine months to enjoy the ride on the city's first metro corridor from Versova to Ghatkopar as the deadline for its completion has been extended to March 2013, reports PTI.

This is for the fourth time that the deadline for the first phase of the 12 kilometre Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar corridor has been extended.

Initially the deadline was for December 2010, which was extended to June 2011 then March 2012. Later it was again extended to November 2012.

Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, who reviewed the progress of various projects of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) on Tuesday, said the project will be completed by March next year.

"We have been informed by the project developer that the first corridor will become operational by March 2013," Chavan told reporters.

The Reliance Infrastructure-led consortium Mumbai Metro One Private Ltd (MMOPL) is developing the 12 km Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar corridor under public-private-partnership (PPP).

On the progress of metro II project from Charkop to Mankhurd, Chavan said, "There has been a delay in construction of the 32 km route mainly due to the environmental clearance issues for the car depots at Charkop. We expect things to be sorted out soon."

The contract for construction of the ambitious Mumbai Trans Harbour Link (MTHL) will be awarded by November, he said.

"We have received tremendous response not only from domestic giants but also international firms who have formed several consortium. We expect the contract to be awarded by November this year," Chavan said.

Emphasising on completion of projects, he said, "Our prime focus now is to complete the existing projects as soon as possible. We want to project Mumbai as an international financial hub and the infrastructure projects undertaken are a step taken towards achieving this target."

The entire 16.8 km Eastern Freeway from PD'Mello Road to Ghatkopar is expected to be ready by March 2013, Chavan added.

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Google, Apple using hi-tech mapping cams that can peep into your room

Google has admitted to having sent planes over cities, while Apple has acquired a firm using spy-in-the-sky technology that has been tested on at least 20 locations

London: You think technology has made life easier, safe and secure. Think again. For US tech giants are using military-grade cameras so powerful that they can see into homes to produce aerial maps which can show up objects just four inches wide, reports PTI.

Google and Apple will use new hi-tech mapping planes that can film through skylights and windows, putting privacy at risk, the Daily mail reported.

The technology is similar to that used by intelligence agencies in identifying terrorist targets in Afghanistan, the report said.

Google has admitted to having sent planes over cities, while Apple has acquired a firm using spy-in-the-sky technology that has been tested on at least 20 locations, including London.

The search engine giant will use its spy planes to help create 3D maps with much more detail than its satellite-derived Google Earth images.

Google expects by the end of the year to have 3D coverage of towns and cities with a combined population of 300 million. It has not revealed any locations so far.

Apple is expected to unveil its new mapping applications for its iPhone and other devices today along with privacy safeguards. Its 3D maps will reportedly show for the first time the sides of tall buildings, such as the Big Ben clock tower, the report said.

Current 3D mapping technology relies on aerial images taken at a much lower resolution than the technology Apple is thought to be using. This means that when users 'zoom in', details tend to be lost because of the poor image quality.

Spy planes are able to photograph around 40 square miles every hour, suggesting they would be flying too quickly and at too great a height to access domestic wifi networks.

But experts say the technology is a sinister development that brings the surveillance society a step closer.

Nick Pickles, director of Big Brother Watch, warned that privacy risked being sacrificed in a commercial 'race to the bottom'.

"The next generation of maps is taking us over the garden fence," he said.

"You won't be able to sunbathe in your garden without worrying about an Apple or Google plane buzzing overhead taking pictures," he warned.

Apple has previously used Google for its mapping services but last year it emerged it had bought C3 Technologies, a 3D mapping company that uses technology developed by Saab AB, the aerospace and defence company.

At the time C3 had already mapped 20 cities and it is believed to have added more with Apple's backing. Its photographs have been shot from 1,600ft and one C3 executive described it as 'Google on steroids'.

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