Citizens' Issues
India launches first-ever mission to Mars

The Orbiter is expected to arrive on Mars on 14 September 2014 and the spacecraft will enter a highly elliptical orbit of 372km x80,000 km around Mars

India on Tuesday embarked on its maiden Mars odyssey, with its polar rocket carrying Mars Orbiter Mission, successfully lifting off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota. This is India's first-ever inter-planetary expedition to join a select band of nations.


The textbook lift-off of ISRO’s workhorse launch vehicle PSLV C25 at 2.38pm from the spaceport was witnessed among others by Minister of State in PMO, V Narayanasamy, US Ambassador to India Nancy Powell, Indian Space Research Organisation Chairman, K Radhakrishnan, and a host of other officials.


The XL version of PSLV C 25 had carried Chandrayaan 1, the country’s maiden moon mission, in 2008.


After going around Earth for 20-25 days in an elliptical orbit (perigee of 250 km and apogee of 23,500 km), the Rs450-crore Orbiter would begin a nine-month long voyage to Mars around 12.42am on 1st December.


It is expected to reach the red planet’s orbit by 24 September 2014 and go around in an elliptical orbit (periapsis of 366 km and apo-apsis of 80,000 km).


The Mars mission of the ISRO is aimed at establishing the country’s capability to reach the red planet and focus on looking for the presence of methane, an indicator of life in Mars.


The Mars Orbiter has five scientific instruments — Lyman Alpha Photometer (LAP), Methane Sensor for Mars (MSM), Mars Exospheric Neutral Composition Analyser (MENCA), Mars Colour Camera (MCC) and Thermal Infrared Imaging Spectrometer (TIS).


European Space Agency (ESA) of the European consortium, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) of the US and Roscosmos of Russia are the three agencies which have successfully sent their missions to the red planet.


Biggest ever insider-trading settlement: SAC Capital to pay $1.8 billon

Unlike the case involving Rajat Gupta and Rajarathinam, has SAC, one of the world’s most successful hedge fund companies, got away with a settlement even though it was running a vast insider-trading racket?

Stephen Cohen-promoted hedge fund giant SAC Capital Advisors on Monday pleaded guilty to criminal charges of engaging in insider trading. The agreement imposes a $1.8 billion financial penalty on the SAC companies—the largest insider trading penalty in history—split between a $900 million fine in the criminal case and a $900 million forfeiture judgment in a civil money laundering and forfeiture action filed by the US government simultaneously with the criminal charges.


However, according to John Cassidy of New Yorker, even the fine of $1.8 billion could be a sweet deal for Cohen, who set shop 20 years ago with just $25 million under management. "Far from being treated like a mobster, Cohen was hit solely in the pocketbook. He wasn’t even mentioned in the US Attorney’s press release about today’s settlement, or in a letter and legal stipulation about the settlement that Bharara’s office filed in US District Court. Rather than naming names, the documents contain repeated references to dozens of corporate entities and investment funds connected to SAC—the 'SAC Entity Defendants'. From Cohen’s perspective, that’s got to be encouraging. He’s not quite in the clear yet. But with about seven billion dollars in his back pocket even after he’s paid off all his fines, he’ll be feeling better about things," wrote John Cassidy in his blog post.


Under the agreement, announced by Preet Bharara, the US attorney for the Southern District of New York (who pursued Rajat Gupta and Raj Rajarathinam), and George Venizelos, assistant director in charge of the New York Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), four companies—SAC Capital Advisors LP, SAC Capital Advisors LLC, CR Intrinsic Investors LLC, and Sigma Capital Management LLC together SAC companies, will plead guilty to each count in which they are charged of an indictment unsealed in July of this year with securities fraud and wire fraud in connection with a large-scale insider trading scheme.


Bharara said, “Individual guilt is not the whole of our mission. Sometimes, blameworthy institutions need to be held accountable too. No institution should rest easy in the belief that it is too big to jail. That is a moral hazard that a just society can ill afford. Today, SAC Capital, one of the world’s largest and most powerful hedge funds, agreed to plead guilty, shut down its outside investment business, and pay the largest fine in history for insider trading offences. That is the just and appropriate price for the pervasive and unprecedented institutional misconduct that occurred here.”


As alleged in the indictment, from 1999 through at least 2010, numerous employees of the SAC companies obtained and traded on material, non-public information that they were not permitted to have inside information, or recommended trades based on such information to SAC portfolio managers (SAC PMs) or the SAC owner. Specifically, the indictment charges the SAC companies with insider trading offences committed by numerous employees, occurring over the span of more than a decade and involving the securities of more than 20 publicly traded companies across multiple sectors of the economy.


As charged in the indictment, the systematic insider trading engaged in by SAC PMs and research analysts were the predictable and foreseeable result of multiple institutional failures. The failures alleged included hiring practices heavily focused on recruiting employees with networks of public company insiders, the failure of SAC management to question employees about trades that appeared to be based on Inside Information, and ineffective compliance measures that failed to prevent or detect such trading, particularly prior to late 2009.


“What SAC Capital’s plea demonstrates is that cheating and breaking the law were not only permitted but allowed to persist," said Venizelos adding, "The result is $1.8 billion in fines and forfeiture, the largest penalty in an insider trading case ever, and termination of their investment advisory business. The problem of insider trading is real. For companies that wilfully turn a blind eye, be on notice: how your employees make money is just as important as how much they make. The FBI’s investigation into insider trading on Wall Street, on Main Street, in hedge funds, at expert networking firms, and anywhere else, continues.”


"The agreement would resolve the criminal charges against the SAC companies but does not provide any individual with immunity from prosecution. Under the terms of the agreement, the government is not prevented from charging any individual with insider trading offences and seeking the maximum prison term authorized by law for such offences," the release from FBI says.


RTI Judgement Series: MCD asked to publish info on its website in compliance with Section 4

The CIC said the information sought by the appellant must be provided and MCD must ensure that it must available suo moto in fulfilment of its duties under Section 4 of the RTI Act. This is the 187th in a series of important judgements given by former Central Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi that can be used or quoted in an RTI application

The Central Information Commission (CIC), while allowing an appeal, directed the Public Information Officer (PIO) at the office of the Superintending Engineer in Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) to provide entire information sought by the appellant and comply with Section 4 of the Right to Information (RTI) Act.


While giving the judgement on 9 June 2009, Shailesh Gandhi, the then Central Information Commissioner said, "The information sought by the appellant must be provided and MCD must ensure that this must available suo moto in fulfilment of its duties under Section 4 of the RTI Act."


Delhi resident, Harpal Singh Rana, on 29 December 2008, sought from the PIO information regarding employees, works assigned and carried out for road making in Delhi. Here is the information he sought and the reply provided by the PIO...


1. How many Departments and offices are working under Civil Line Zone, Give address of all those department and offices?     

PIO's reply- Ward No. 5,6,7 and 8 comes under Civil Line Zone's E.E.M-I address of which below mentioned:-

Sub-Engineer, M-I,

Civil Line Zone, 16, Rajpur Road,



2. Give details of appointment of officers and employees in the respective department.

PIO's reply- Mr. V.K.Grover (AE), Mr. V.S.Chouhan (JE), Mr.V.K.Gupta (AE), Mr. Amit (JE), Mr. Yashpal Raahilla (JE), Mr.Jagmohan Sharma (JE).


3. Give the details of vacancy in the all department on said ward.    

PIO's reply- There is no vacancy.


4. Give the details of income and expenditure on different items in different departments and offices.     

PIO's reply- The copy had already been provided.


5. The details of given duties of officers and employees related to Civil line zone.

PIO's reply- It is related to Town Hall Head quarters.


6. Give the following details in written of development work in wards:-

a)      Name of work

b)      Brief description of work

c)      Approved amount of work

d)      Approval date of work

e)      Status of the work

f)       Name of the agency.

Give the details of the kind of guarantee or time limit was provided.

PIO's reply- The copy had already been provided.


7. Please give the details of population density and total area of Bhalsva, in the Jahangirpur ward J.J.Colony, Nagali Poona, Kadipur area etc. 

PIO's reply- It is not related to this part of question.


8. Give the details of agencies which did the work of excavation and cutting of road for which purpose in what time in all the wards from April 2007 to Nov, 2008.       

PIO's reply- No excavation work of road had begun in the said wards.


9. Give the details of dates and amount deposited by agencies and expenditure in different wards. 

PIO's reply- -As above-


Not satisfied with the PIO's reply, Rana filed his first appeal. In his order, the First Appellate Authority (FAA) directed the PIO to provide information on points 4, 5 and 6.


Rana, then approached the CIC with his second appeal.


After hearing Rana, the appellant and the PIO, the Bench of Mr Gandhi, said, "The nature of information sought by the appellant should have been provided suo moto by the public authority. It is apparent that this is not been done and MCD is not fulfilling its basic duties under Section 4 of the RTI Act. The then PIO Pushkar Sharma is also guilty of not providing information in time and not complying with the direction of the first appellate authority."


While allowing the appeal, the Bench directed the PIO to provide entire information to Rana. The CIC also asked the additional commissioner for revenues at MCD to ensure compliance with Section 4 of the RTI Act, and make available all the information on the MCD website before 15 August 2009.




Decision No. CIC/SG/A/2009/000891/3620

Appeal No. CIC/SG/A/2009/000891



Appellant                                         : Harpal Singh Rana



Respondent                                      : Pushkar Sharma


                                                            Municipal Corporation of Delhi

                                                            Office of the Superintending Engineer

                                                            Civil Lines Zone



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