Hyderabad: The Andhra Pradesh High Court today rejected petitions by the microfinance (MF) industry to quash an ordinance which, they claimed, curbed their freedom, and asked MF institutions (MFIs) to carry on their business in compliance with the new rules.
The Court directed the institutions to register themselves with the government within a week, as mandated in the ordinance. The petitions were filed by Microfinance Institutions Network (MFIN), SKS Microfinance and Spandana Microfinance, PTI reports. They contended that the state was encroaching into an area already regulated by the Reserve Bank of India Act and other central laws.
A division bench of Chief Justice Nisar Ahmad Kakru and Justice Vilas V Afzalpurkar said that the companies can carry out day-to-day activities, and that the government could book cases in the event of violation of sections 9 and 16 of the Andhra Pradesh Microfinance Institutions (Regulation of Money Lending) Ordinance 2010. The ordinance was promulgated last week.
Under section 9 of the ordinance, MFIs are barred from charging interest in excess of the principal amount, irrespective of whether the loan was given out before or after commencement of the ordinance. According to section 16, all persons connected with and responsible for the day-to-day control, business and management of an MFI, including partners, directors and employees who resort to any type of coercive measures against self-help groups, group members or their family members, shall be liable for punishment with imprisonment which may extend up to three years, or a fine which may extend to Rs1 lakh, or both.
P Niroop Reddy, counsel for MFIN, said that the court had also directed the government not to arrest loan recovery officials of the company when they go for collections. Last night, three employees of SKS Microfinance and Spandana were arrested on a complaint of harassment by a borrower.
"After investigation, we came to know that the recovery officials were acting under the instructions of their company management. So under the new ordinance, Vikram Akula (founder and chairman of SKS Microfinance) and Padmaja Reddy (promoter of Spandana Microfinance) may also be included in the case," CH Srikanth, superintendent of police (Kurnool) told PTI.
Investors resorted to profit taking after yesterday's gains resulted in the market ending lower amid a highly volatile session. Cautiousness about the outcome of the two-day Group of Twenty (G20) meeting also added to the worries.
The market opened in the green on positive global cues. A high degree of choppiness led the market in and out of the red. Indian IT majors - TCS and Wipro - in the news following the announcement of their quarterly earnings reports, witnessed a divergent trend in their stock movement.
The post-noon session saw the indices moving into the negative zone to touch the day's low on another round of profit taking but a marginal recovery enabled the market close off the day's low, albeit in the negative zone.
The Sensex ended 94.72 points (0.47%) lower at 20,166. The barometer oscillated between a high-low of 20,351 and 20,088, respectively. The Nifty settled at 6,066, down 35.45 points (0.58%). The index touched a high of 6,121 and a low of 6,041, intraday.
The market breadth was negative today. The Sensex had 22 losers compared to eight stocks in the advancing list. The Nifty settled with 34 stocks in the red against 16 gainers. The broader indices outperformed the key benchmarks today; the BSE Mid-cap index gained 0.27% and the BSE Small-cap index advanced 0.30%.
The top gainers on the Sensex were TCS (up 5.72%), Infosys Technologies (up 0.66%) and Reliance Communications (RCom) (up 0.51%). The losers included Wipro (down 4.54%), Sterlite Industries (down 2.58%) and Jaiprakash Associates (down 2.37%).
BSE IT (up 1.19%), BSE TECk (up 0.72%) and BSE Consumer Durables (CD) (up 0.20%) were the notable gainers in the sectoral space today. On the other hand, BSE Realty (down 1.61%), BSE Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) (down 1.35%) and BSE Metal (down 1.21%) led the sectoral losers.
Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee has said today that huge foreign institutional investor (FII) inflow reflects foreigners' confidence in the Indian growth story and is not a matter of concern as of now since the appreciation in the value of rupee is not abnormal.
"The rupee appreciation is not abnormal. As and when Reserve Bank of India (RBI) feels that intervention is necessary, they start intervening. But I'm not very much worried because our situation will not be of that level," Mr Mukherjee said ahead of G-20 finance ministers meeting.
Markets in Asia ended mixed on positivism on the earnings front led by IT stocks in South Korea and India. However, caution prevailed as investors awaited the outcome of the two-day meeting of the G20 finance ministers that began today. However, analysts struck down any possibility of a pact to resolve the currency issues in various geographical regions.
The Jakarta Composite gained 0.27%, Nikkei 225 surged 0.54%, Straits Times was up 0.32%, Seoul Composite advanced 1.21% and Taiwan Weighted rose 0.45%. On the other hand, the Shanghai Composite shed 0.28%, Hang Seng was down 0.56% and KLSE Composite declined 0.44%.
US markets closed with marginal gains on Thursday amidst a choppy session torn between positive earnings reports and a strong dollar. The markets gave up gains seen in the morning session as the dollar rose, raising fresh concerns about a currency imbroglio.
On the economic front, initial jobless claims fell last week by 23,000 to 452,000, Labor Department figures showed on Thursday. The Conference Board's measure of the outlook for the next three to six months rose 0.3%, in line with expectations.
The Dow added 38.60 points (0.35%) to 11,146. The S&P 500 rose 2.09 points (0.18%) to 1,180. The Nasdaq gained 2.28 points (0.09%) to 2,459.
After a muted participation in the equities market on Tuesday and Wednesday, foreign institutional investors were net buyers of stocks worth Rs852 crore on Thursday. Domestic institutional investors were net sellers of equities worth Rs230 crore on the same day.
Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) (up 5.72%), the country's largest software services exporter, climbed to a new high in early trade today after the company's profit growth outpaced that of Infosys Technologies Ltd and Wipro Ltd.
TCS yesterday announced a 32.1% jump in net profit at Rs2,169 crore in the quarter to September 2010 and a 24.9% growth in revenues year-on-year at Rs9,286 crore. "It has been a quarter of superior performance across the board, driven by volume growth of over 11%," N Chandrasekaran, managing director and CEO of TCS, said.
Kavveri Telecom Products Ltd (up 3.10%) has said that the company has tied up with Canada-based Valcom Manufacturing Group, one of the leading manufacturers of defence products in the wireless industry in the world.
According to the company's filing with the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE), the tie-up will enable it to provide high technology products to the Indian defence industry.
IT firm MphasiS (down 0.01%) has announced the opening of its first delivery centre in Australia at the University of Wollongong.
The new centre will enable the company to work closely with the university on initiatives like training, recruitment and research and development in the ICT (information and communications technology) space, the company said in a statement.
State-run lender Central Bank of India and Bajaj Finance Ltd said it signed an alliance to co-finance retail and small and medium enterprises (SME) loans. Bajaj Finserv has estimated the co-financing could go up to Rs1,000 crore over the next 18 months.
As per the tie-up, the assets would be partially assigned to Central Bank of India on a periodic basis and the administration and servicing of these loans would be managed by Bajaj Finance.
On Friday, Central Bank shares gained 1.8% to Rs228 while Bajaj Finance shares ended flat at Rs770 on the Bombay Stock Exchange. The benchmark Sensex declined 0.5% to 20,165 points.