Leader of the opposition Sushma Swaraj questioned when the prime minister does not enjoy immunity from prosecution under the criminal law and Prevention of Corruption Act, why he was being kept out of the ambit of the Lokpal
New Delhi: The Lokpal Bill, which excludes the office of the prime minister, higher judiciary and conduct of Members of Parliament (MPs) inside Parliament from the purview of the anti-corruption watchdog, was introduced in Lok Sabha today amid objections by BJP and its NDA partners, reports PTI.
The Lokpal Bill, 2011 introduced by minister of state for personnel V Narayanasamy, seeks to keep the office of the prime minister outside the purview of the ombudsman during his term in office.
The institution would inquire into allegations of corruption in respect of the prime minister only after he demits office.
The government has maintained that the conduct of judiciary will be covered by the Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill pending with a Parliamentary Standing Committee.
Similarly, the conduct of MPs has also been excluded from the ambit of Lokpal as under Article 105 (2) "no member of Parliament shall be liable to any proceedings in any court in respect of anything said or any vote given by him in Parliament..."
Just before introduction of the bill, speaker Meira Kumar gave permission to leader of the opposition Sushma Swaraj to express her views as a special case.
Ms Swaraj asked when the prime minister does not enjoy immunity from prosecution under the criminal law and Prevention of Corruption Act, why he was being kept out of the ambit of the Lokpal.
She maintained that as per the Constitution, everybody was equal and there is no immunity from IPC, CrPC or the Prevention of Corruption Act.
"It is for the first time that under Clause 2 of the Lokpal Bill, all Union ministers are included except the prime minister. I don't understand why. How can anybody occupying any position be a holy cow? Why is the prime minister being kept out of its purview?" Ms Swaraj posed.
She said as chairperson of the then standing committee on home, Pranab Mukherjee had accepted that the prime minister should be within the purview of the Lokpal. "The prime minister (Manmohan Singh) has himself said he wants to be within its ambit. Why is the Cabinet not paying heed to his views?" she asked.
Mr Mukherjee told the House that Ms Swaraj's contention that he gave his nod to the NDA Lokpal Bill is true.
"On 16 February 2002 as chairperson of the standing committee on home, I had placed that bill on the table of the House. NDA had two full years after that. Why did they not bring the bill," Mr Mukherjee wondered.
Under the provisions of the Bill, the Lokpal will presume that a public servant has acquired assets through corrupt means if he or she fails to declare them or gives any misleading information.
The Lokpal can also recommend transfer or suspension of public servants connected with allegations of corruption.
The anti-corruption watchdog would take up corruption matters involving ministers, MPs, Group 'A' officers and others equivalent to this grade in any body, board, authority, corporation, trust, society or autonomous body set up by an Act of Parliament.
The Lokpal, consisting of a chairperson and eight members, half of them judicial, will have its own prosecution and investigation wing with officers and staff necessary to carry out its functions.
Persons with impeccable integrity, with 25 years of experience in administration who have dealt with corruption and vigilance, would also form part of the Lokpal.
According to one of the provisions of the bill, the Lokpal cannot look into complaints against any of its members or the chairman. Such complaints would be referred to the chief justice of India by the president.
The Lokpal would not require sanction or approval under Section 197 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, or Section 19 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, in cases where prosecution is proposed.
The Lokpal will also have powers to attach the property of corrupt public servants acquired through corrupt means.
At the same time, the bill provides for prosecution for false complaint. The punishment term would not be less than two years in jail. The prison term can extend up to five years.
A penalty ranging from Rs25,000 to Rs2 lakh is also proposed on people found guilty of making false complaints.
The public servant is also entitled to compensation.
The anti-corruption watchdog can also seek the assistance of the Centre and the state government in conducting inquiries.
It provides for a time limitation period of seven years from the date of taking cognisance of an offence. In the case of the prime minister, the limitation period will apply after he or she demits office.
The measure does not provide for constitution of Lokayukta as in states.
The expenses to run the institution would be borne out of the Consolidated Fund of India.
The government hopes if the standing committee comes out with its recommendations on the bill by August-end, it could then go ahead with its passage.
The Lokpal Bill has had a long and chequered history.
Legislations in the past had included the prime minister within the ambit of the bill only on a few occasions.
The National Commission for Review of the Working of the Constitution in 2001 had recommended that the prime minister be kept out of the Lokpal's purview since he occupies a unique position and is the head of the entire governmental structure.
The commission, headed by retired chief justice MN Venkatachaliah, had said that the prime minister as the symbol of stability and continuity of the regime should not be exposed to the risks of well-orchestrated attempts to malign his image and reputation.
The idea of Lokpal emanated from the office of ombudsman prevalent in Scandinavian countries.
The first legislative attempt at Lokpal in India fell after the bill was passed in the 4th Lok Sabha in 1969 but could not get through in Rajya Sabha.
Subsequently, Lokpal bills were introduced in 1971, 1977, 1985, 1989, 1996, 1998, 2001, 2005 and in 2008.
The fund will invest in stocks of companies ranked between 101 and 300 by market capitalisation. That’s a lot of large-cap stocks to choose from
Edelweiss Mutual Fund has launched Edelweiss Select Midcap Fund, an open-ended equity scheme, with the objective of investing mainly in mid-cap stocks that could generate long-term capital growth. But the Edelweiss definition of mid-cap is such that these could well include large-cap companies. |
It plans to invest 80% to 100% of net assets in equity and equity-related securities of Indian companies ranked between 101 and 300 by market capitalisation. This would mean the freedom to choose from a lot of large-cap stocks. In any case, mid-cap funds have been known to stray from their objective.
There are many examples of mid-cap funds that have ended up investing in large-cap stocks. For example, Axis Midcap Fund has invested in Infosys and Petronet LNG, Birla Sun Life MidCap Fund has invested in stocks like Glaxo Smithkline Consumer, Cadila Healthcare and Cummins India, and BNP Paribas Mid Cap Fund has NTPC, Lupin and Ultratech Cement in its portfolio. Clearly, funds are quick to stray away from the investment objective when it suits them.
And, is this the right time to invest in mid-cap stocks? The five-year performance of mid-cap stocks has not been great. On an average these funds have given a compounded return of 12%, whereas the CNX Midcap has given a return of 16% in the past five years. Mid-cap funds as a category (average) have lagged the CNX Midcap index by 4 percentage points-even after the complete flexibility they have in deciding what are midcaps.
Of 13 mid-cap funds, six recorded above average returns. Big funds such as HSBC and SBI have given returns as low as 6%-8% over the past five years. But a simple bank fixed deposit gives 8% guaranteed return, subject to tax. So what is the added return for an investor who exposes his investment to market risk by investing in mid-cap stocks?
Mid-cap stocks and small-cap stocks rise the fastest when the economy is in a growth mode. They are the blue chips of tomorrow. But they are also more volatile. Wrong timing can decimate returns over the short term, as Morgan Stanley knows better than some others. Its first fund (launched in 1994) was stuffed with small- and mid-cap stocks, but suffered severe value erosion of 35% over seven years. Although not comparable to 1994, the economy faces a lot of headwinds now.
The Edelweiss NFO opens on 4th August and closes on 18th August. The fund is benchmarked against the BSE-Midcap Index.
To the utter amazement of the entire market, the stock of the broking firm was rigged up non-stop to Rs225 from Rs91, once again making a mockery of regulators, raters, and the entire market system
Stockbrokers may be cutting branches and staff but the stock of broking company Inventure made a debut today that had all the hallmarks of a red-hot chip. Last month, amid deep general gloom and a virtually dead IPO (initial public offering) market, Inventure defied sceptics to make an issue at a princely price of Rs117. Market watchers wondered whether the stock would find takers. Not only was the stock subscribed, but today it opened at the issue price. In line with a weak market, the stock fell to Rs91 and it is then that speculators stepped in. The stock jumped from Rs91 and rose non-stop all the way to Rs225, up by a huge 92%, even as the Sensex was down by 250 points. The stock closed slightly below the high of the day. Stunningly, on its debut, Inventure was the highest-traded share in the market today. Trading volume was a hige 5.87 crore shares, 60% more than the second-highest traded stock Lanco Infratech Limited.
All this would leave a casual market watchers stupefied. Of course, a Moneylife reader would know that the IPO market can be easily manipulated. We had written earlier on how a cabal of Mumbai and Gujarat operators can ensure the full subscription and subsequent price-rigging of any scrip-irrespective of the fundamentals- right the under the nose of the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) and the two "national" exchanges, the Bombay Stock Exchange and the National Stock Exchange.
Fitch /ICRA had assigned an IPO 'Grade 2' to Inventure's IPO. According to these rating agencies, the company has 'Below Average Fundamentals'. Both rating agencies assign IPO grading on a scale of 5 to 1, with 'Grade 5' indicating 'Strong Fundamentals' and Grade 1 indicating 'Poor Fundamentals.'
The issue has received bids for more than 3.2 crore equity shares against issue size of 70 lakh shares. Non-institutional and retail investors subscribed over 9.49 times and 8.66 times, respectively.
The company intends to spend the issue money for investment in its subsidiary, Inventure Finance Private Limited and long term working capital.
A broking firm coming up with an IPO during a time when other broking firms are cutting jobs due to stiff competition was indeed surprising, to say the least. We now know why.
You may also want to read:
1) IPOs: Manipulation rules
2) What ails the Indian IPO market-I?
3) What ails the Indian IPO Market?-II