Uploading all FIRs, except a few, would curb illegal gratification being paid by the accused to obtain a copy of the report and soon denial of FIR would be a thing of the past in Maharashtra
In a significant order, Maharashtra state Chief Information Commission (SCIC) has directed the Director General of Police (DGP) to publish all first information reports (FIRs), except those decided by an officer of Commissioner level, on its website.
While giving this important judgement, Ratnakar Gaikwad, the SCIC, referred to orders passed by the Delhi High Court (WP (CRL) NO468/2010) and Orissa High Court. He said the DGP should ensure to upload FIRs from all police stations across Maharashtra on its website and submit a compliance report before 30 June 2013 before the Commission.
Reacting on the decision to publish FIRs, Shailesh Gandhi, former Central Information Commissioner, said, “This is indeed a very significant and important order by the SIC. We should congratulate the SIC and now take responsibility for its implementation. Activists must then monitor the websites to ensure that these orders are implemented properly and complain to the Information Commission if necessary if the order is not being implemented.”
According to Vinita Deshmukh, leading RTI activist and consulting editor of Moneylife, uploading FIRs on police websites will be a boon to the common man who is almost always harassed for a copy of the FIR, whether he makes an official request or asks for it under the RTI. She said, “It will also prevent tampering of the FIR (which is sometimes done at a later stage). Such transparency will also reduce alleged corruption and bribe that takes place for a copy of the FIR. The question though is, will the Maharashtra government, which is known for its lackadaisical attitude when it comes to governance particularly that which is citizen-friendly, will take any pains to implement it.”
RTI activist Vijay Kumbhar also expressed similar views. “The order is very good but we have to observe its implementation and implications also,” he said.
According to Rahul Deodhar, by making similar order (as per the Delhi and Orissa HCs) the SIC has done two salutary things. “First FIRs will now be available for everyone to download. Secondly, and more importantly, it has set a precedent and made it possible to apply the Delhi HC order in any state by using lower cost remedy of RTI appeal. I hope other states take this up through RTI,” he said.
Yogesh Pratap Singh (YP Singh), a former IPS officer and now a well-known advocate and activist said, there could be several issues (with the SCIC decision), which are required to be determined. He said, "...it is also important to upload the cases where police have not filed FIR despite the offence being cognizable in nature."
Singh said, "In many cases, police keep the FIR secret. For example, FIR is filed for developing a trap case and to collect ancillary evidence. This process may take days, or even months. This FIR is kept secret till the time the trap gets materialized. Or else, the accused would know about it and then would never take bribe and fall in trap. Similar is the position in many other decoy cases. In several cases, where extensive searches are needed at various places all over the country, the lead time could be as long as one week after search warrants are taken. These search warrants can be obtained only after the FIR is filed."
"As per law, the prerogative to get the copy of the FIR is with the complainant/ informant. Accused gets entitled only when there are issues of human rights. Often accused misuse FIR by filing anticipatory bail or by just absconding or by manipulating other evidence or by using political clout," he said.
Here is the order of SCIC related with publishing the FIR on police website...
Earlier, in its order on 6 December 2010, the Delhi HC has said that the FIRs should be uploaded online within 24 hours of its registration though it exempted the force from making public FIRs on sensitive issues.
However, whenever it does not make FIRs public, such a decision has to be taken by an officer not below the rank of Deputy Commissioner of Police and they have to inform the area magistrates, the high court had said.
The Delhi HC said, "In case a copy of the FIR is not provided on the ground of sensitive nature of the case, a person grieved by the said action, after disclosing his identity, can submit a representation with the Commissioner of Police who shall constitute a committee of three high officers and the committee shall deal with the said grievance within three days from the date of receipt of the representation and communicate it to the grieved person."
The Orissa High Court, while giving similar judgement clarified on the statutory mender inhered under Section 207 of the IPC. It said, "Once the First Information Report is forwarded by the police station to the concerned Magistrate or any Special Judge, on an application being filed for certified copy on behalf of the accused, the same shall be given by the court concerned within two working days. The aforesaid direction has nothing to do with the statutory mandate inhered under Section 207 of the Code."
Just last week, the Punjab and Haryana High Court questioning the reluctance shown by authorities directed Punjab and Haryana police to upload the FIRs on their official websites. Observing that it would curb illegal gratification being paid by the accused to obtain a copy of the FIR, the High Court has given one-month time to Punjab and Haryana to start uploading the FIRs.
The conventional wisdom is that commodity prices go down when the dollar rises. But the recent weakness in commodities is not just due to a higher dollar, says Credit Suisse. Weak economic data coupled with slack in demand are the major reasons
Commodity prices all over the world have dipped, while some like copper and gold have crashed. A lot of investors have blamed it on a strong US dollar. However, Credit Suisse thinks otherwise. It feels that the global economy, particularly the US economy, is still weak. “It is notable that the broad US dollar trade-weighted index has not moved above its recent range, with our foreign exchange strategists suggesting that talk of a US dollar bull market is premature.” In other words, the strong US dollar is only a temporary phenomenon and the US economy is expected to slow down and this being reflected in lower commodity prices.
Credit Suisse expects the global economy, especially the United States GDP, to contract to 1.5% SAAR (seasonally adjusted annual rate) in the 2nd quarter of 2013. The report said, “It should be noted, however, that in part the rebound was payback for the very weak Q4, with our economists expecting growth to have slowed to 1.5% in Q2.”
Much of the demand in commodities over the past decade has been largely fuelled by insatiable Chinese demand and its real estate growth. But this is expected to slow down. Apart from the stronger US dollar, the Chinese economy has also played a part in the fall in commodity prices as demand was weaker vis-a-vis lower GDP, at 6.6% SAAR. Credit Suisse expects the Chinese economy to slow down and stabilise. It said, “Looking ahead however, our long-held view that growth in H2 will slow a little continues to play out, with early signs that the surge in infrastructure spending may be peaking out, while the growth in each of housing sales, starts and completions looks to have peaked.
Iron ore prices continued to fall. Credit Suisse feels that China’s house prices have peaked out while industrial production has slowed down. Therefore, the excess production that is unmet by demand needs to be rid off, albeit at lower prices. The graph below shows how corporations and traders are stuck with high inventories piled up in the preceding years and are trying to get rid of it.
Credit Suisse expects the iron ore market to be smaller by 75 metric tonnes in the fourth quarter, compared to the first quarter.
Copper is showing downward trend as well, when recently it touched record inventories on the London Metals Exchange. The report said, “Inventories at downstream processors rose fractionally to about 5.4 days’ demand in April, reflecting buying support as prices came off. Nevertheless, further restocking is unlikely, with few operators willing to purchase large parcels at a time when concerns about seasonally slowing orders are beginning to mount”
Generally speaking, commodities world over continue their downtrend as demand slows down and, more importantly, supply and inventories reach record levels. According to Credit Suisse, the table below shows the performance of different commodities.
A third sexual harassment case against Phaneesh Murthy’s should wake up the corporate sector to insurance for Directors and Officers that also covers liability due to financial misstatements, sexual harassment and vulnerability to stakeholder claims, but Indians companies seem to be slow in getting such protection
Phaneesh Murthy, president and CEO of iGate was sacked yesterday for alleged sexual harassment. A statement by iGate innocuously says that Murthy was sacked for not disclosing his relationship with a subordinate Araceli Roiz who is global head of investor relations. Earlier, Murthy was given boot by Infosys over a sexual harassment scandal. When Infosys decided to settle with its former employee Reka Maximovitch at $3 million plus nearly $1 million more in costs, more than half the money came from its insurance company. Infosys paid $1.5 million and Phaneesh Murthy, the accused, paid nothing. Jennifer Griffith, another Infosys employee in the US also alleged that Murthy had sexually harassed her. Even though Murthy had denied it, the suit was settled for $800,000.
All this has thrown light on the issue of liability for Director and Officers and insurance cover for them.
While the chances of litigation are definitely higher in the US than in India, exposure to scams and global practices should be pushing corporates to buy Directors and Officers (D&O) insurance to cover their risks. With examples like the Satyam scam, the sexual harassment in Infosys and now possibility of the iGate lawsuit with news of Phaneesh Murthy’s alleged sexual harassment incident, there are good reasons for Indian companies to rethink. Companies with overseas operations will surely buy it due to litigious environment in overseas jurisdictions and the prohibitive legal costs abroad.
Some of the main areas of D&O coverage is as follows –
• Mis-statement in prospectus
• Inaccurate statement of financial conditions
• Errors in annual accounts
• Conflict of interest
• Lack of judgment, diligence, good faith
• Mismanagement of funds
• Unfair allotment of shares
• Using insider information
• Unwarranted dividend, salary, compensation payments
• Unfair dismissal of an employee
Some policies may be silent about covering lawsuits due to sexual harassment and hence buyers need to be aware of it. Each policy is usually tailored for the respective clients and hence the clause can be added. Moneylife had written to five private insurers to confirm if sexual harassment is covered in their policy, but got response from only two. According to Dr Amarnath Ananthanarayanan, CEO and MD, Bharti AXA General Insurance, “Yes, the D&O policy would trigger on such lawsuits being filed.”
According to Mukesh Kumar, Head - Strategy Planning, HR and Marketing, HDFC ERGO, “Our D&O policy covers directors, officers and employees against claims with respect to any actual or alleged wrongful or unfair employment practices. This broadly includes but is not limited to termination of employment, misrepresentation, discrimination, harassment, sexual harassment, failure to employ or promote, demotion, invasion of privacy, defamation or infliction of emotional distress.”
The demand for D&O policies in India is increasing with listing of Indian companies on international stock exchanges. There had been talks about the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) making it mandatory for all listed companies to buy D&O insurance, but only 10% of publicly listed companies in India have D&O insurance. The main buyers of D&O cover are companies listed or planning to list on the Nasdaq and those in IT. Even with the increased awareness of D&O, the biggest manufacturing companies and blue chip corporate groups continue to be complacent about directors’ risks.
According to Dr Amarnath Ananthanarayanan, “The response has not been good, but the trend is increasing as more awareness is spreading in the market. The awareness is still very low in the SME segment as opposed to the larger corporates. We would approximately have 20 such covers for private sector companies. This is not necessarily companies that have overseas operations or plan to list on foreign stock exchanges. But, there is obviously more inclination for companies listed abroad or planning to list abroad to buy these covers.”
Mukesh Kumar, says, “In the last couple of years, we have seen a growing demand for D&O insurance cover from Indian companies and there has been a transition from concept selling to general awareness. Stringent regulations, complex listing requirements, increasing legal fees and litigious environment have contributed towards an increasing demand for this policy. Our D&O book mostly includes private companies. However, there are some large public sector companies as well.”
It is possible that Indian companies consider D&O cover as a cost rather than an investment as well as belief that Indian environment is less litigious than the western countries. Dr Amarnath Ananthanarayanan, says, “We receive requests for policy indemnity limit from $1 million to $50 million and the price varies depending on the circumstances and client type. At a very high level of approximately a $1 million of cover, the annual premium would be $2,000 for a private limited company.”
According to Mukesh Kumar, “Typically Indian multinationals, listed companies and companies that plan to list their securities on stock exchanges buy D&O insurance. We have also seen an increasing demand for this policy from companies which are planning acquisitions/mergers or capital raising via the private equity route. The D&O market is very soft at the moment and the premiums tend to be very competitive.”
Tata AIG D&O insurance may have come handy for Satyam Computer Services with the Rs7,000 crore scandal. Even though confession to fraud is considered as an exclusion from the D&O policy, media reports last year state that D&O liability cover requires the insurer to defend till such time that the officer is criminally convicted. It adds that Tata AIG had to foot Satyam founder Ramalinga Raju’s legal bill of Rs60 crore. When Moneylife contacted Tata AIG to find about the case, they stated that Tata AIG policy is not to talk about their clients or even confirm that a specific company is their client.