Moral Pressure by Media is required
This is a fervent appeal to the media to help in getting the consumer rights due to us.
Ashiana Builders and Developers, a big group active as ‘Ashiana Housing’. publicises itself for building and maintaining ‘Senior Quality Home Complexes’ called ‘Utsav’. One such Utsav complex has been built and is functioning at Jaipur. The complex is marketed with hype as ‘Quality Living Homes’ at affordable prices, equipped with all the necessary in-house amenities and facilities to aid quality care in living standards and medical emergencies. It is also promoting the slogan ‘Nurturing Smiles’.
However, in practice, Ashiana Housing has failed to deliver what it promised on paper and even in its ‘Sell and Maintenance Agreements’. Senior residents who experienced this failure have made complaints in writing but in vain; resulting in ‘Nurturing Tears’. This is nothing but depriving the seniors of their promised ‘rights’. Since the same builder group is also a service-provider, it is abdicating its responsibilities. I have given below a summary of the points where ‘illegality and non-delivery of promises’ have taken place and the required relief is not provided:
(a) Construction of flats is not up to the laid down quality standards. They are using low-quality material and equipment;
(b) It is against the law laid down by the Supreme Court. ‘Utsav’ residents are sold ‘common area open parking space’ at a hefty amount and without transparently notifying the policy of allotment of parking slots;
(c) The essential ‘emergency care facility’, like medically approved standard of ‘ambulance’ and working of ‘emergency alert buttons’, are not functioning.
(d) Café is not tuned to the nutritional needs of seniors; there are only a few items on the menu and the working hours are short. Therefore, a single male is more inconvenienced and deprived;
(e) Essential services, which are paid or a part of regular monthly maintenance charges (MMC), are erratic and are not available. This leads to deterioration in quality of survival of seniors and is depriving them of basic rights as a consumer;
(f) There is arbitrary and illogical/ unjustified enhancement in MMC bills, even for residents who were made to pay 18 months’ MMC in advance, without interest;
(g) Transparency and accountability is absent for which the service-provider has been paid;
(h) Neither is there any ‘Grievance Handling System’ in place nor are the residents made aware about the ‘Hierarchy of Accountability’. This results in grievances/ complaints being handled poorly. There is hardly any redress, reply or resolution
This NGO (Consumer Complaints Cell—CCCELL) had received detailed grievances /complaints from the senior residents. One amongst them is a senior citizen and consumer activist Mohan Siroya. He has also purchased a flat in the Senior Utsav Complex at Jaipur. He has endorsed the realities personally experienced by him, on the above-mentioned areas of non-deliverance. Being an activist, he could not remain silent and wrote to the builder, its service-provider arm and the social media. Needless to say, his grievances/complaints remain unresolved. Even CCCELL’s formal exhortation/ counselling mailed to all concerned to settle/ resolve the dispute with mutual discussions—bilateral or tripartite—has not been acknowledged.
If any of the media professionals would like to help the cause by putting ‘moral pressure’ on the builder by counselling them to resolve the grievances mutually or through arbitration, conciliation or mediation, we would welcome it. The last resort of litigation would be avoided.
Sunit Shah, honorary secretary—Consumer Complaints Cell, by email
Corporate Governance is at a low
The very fact that Infosys agreed to pay $34 million in settlement implies that it had contravened the US immigration laws and was aware of it. This is another instance of corporates trying to short-circuit laws thinking that they can get away with murder. It speaks of the extent of corporate mal-governance practised at the topmost echelons.
Infosys needs to clarify whether it had provided for this penalty in its accounts. If not, is the company giving the information in the disclosures of ‘contingent liabilities’? Surely, the liability and the proceedings have been going on for quite sometime now. The actual amount of the liability could not have been quantified with accuracy earlier. But that it did exist is a fact and all the more reason that it needed to be properly accounted for somewhere down the years. Consequently, the profits for the respective years definitely stand overstated. It is for the audit committee to answer. How will the impact of this massive payment appear in the reporting of quarterly earnings?
It is a sad commentary that even the so-called most ethical of our corporates are prone to breaking the laws—they too have feet of clay! Even as the chairman of Hindalco was protesting to the finance minister, cash of Rs25 crore was said to have been found in the course of a raid at its Delhi office.
What was the need for the house of Tatas to retain a corporate lobbyist except to ostensibly channel money to the netas and babus? Where is the question of invasion of privacy that Ratan Tata alleges about his taped conversations—either he has said it or he hasn’t! All this smacks of corporate governance norms being thrown to the winds!
Nagesh Kini, by email
HUF bank account for NRIs
I am a subscriber of Moneylife magazine and I am facing a problem with regard to opening a bank account. I hope you can assist.
I am an NRI (non-resident Indian) and I had contacted Central Bank of India regarding the opening of an HUF account. But the manager declined to open the account saying, “According to our Bank’s practice, HUF accounts are not opened for NRIs.” I was also harassed and treated badly.
Please note that I am the HUF karta and all members of the HUF (including me) are NRIs. Is it possible for someone to please provide the RBI circular or any such government notice that says NRIs can maintain an HUF account? I can again go to the branch with this information. I tried searching for this on RBI’s website but could not get it. I hope you can help me with the relevant information.
Dr Jayaram Subramanian, by email
Sucheta Dalal replies:
Sorry to hear about your bad experience. You need to first exhaust the remedies provided by the Bank. Please go to the link below:
At the bottom of the page, without a clear hyperlink, there are two lines. Click on the words that say ‘click here.’ The first gives you the link I have provided above. Please write a detailed complaint.
You can also complain to the ombudsman whose address is given in another link—The Internal Ombudsman of Central Bank: Ulhas Sangekar, CCSO, Central Bank of India, Central Office, 2nd Floor, M.M.O. Building, M.G.Road, Fort, Mumbai-400023
You need to do the paperwork. Once you have done that, if the Bank still does not respond, you can go to the board services committee. Finally, you can approach  the Banking Ombudsman.
Milestone in bungling
This is with regard to “Moneylife Impact: SEBI issues show-cause notice to HSBC for cheating Suchitra Krishnamoorthi”. This adds another feather to the Moneylife cap in the service of investors and consumers. I am sure, getting positive results for Ms Krishnamoorthi, will establish a milestone for future bungling by the so-called ‘fund managers’.
Mohan Siroya
Make it easier for senior citizens!
This is with regard to “Relief for senior citizens on reverse mortgage but lots more needs to be done” by Sucheta Dalal. Very good article. Hopefully, the government will take note and put in a good structure to make it easier for senior citizens to live comfortably.
Weaker banks should be merged!
This is with regard to “Hapless depositors of urban cooperative banks” by Gurpur. The question really is whether UCBs (urban cooperative banks) are relevant. Good UCBs should be encouraged to convert themselves into private banks as Saraswat Bank is reportedly doing. Weaker banks should be merged wherever feasible. If after knowing the weakness of UCBs, people still wish to put their money in these banks, little can be done. Cooperative societies are thriving due to the higher interest rates offered by them. Educated, upper middle-class also invests money in these cooperative societies.
Anil Agashe
Stay frugal!
This is with regard to “If you allow people to borrow for nothing, they get a bit excessive” by William Gamble. Man’s propensity to earn more than he deserves and show more than he earns has always led him to untold miseries. This includes DEATH (suicides)! Staying frugal is never off fashion. Simple living, high thinking and fast acting are the secrets of success.
Mahesh S Bhatt
Protest against nationalisation?
This is with regard to “How Air India was destroyed” by Sucheta Dalal. So nationalisation was the original sin. Too late to understand, in a country where people look for government jobs. Why did the employees not protest against nationalisation plans?
Prabal Biswas 


HC quashes Tamil Nadu govt order on GAIL pipeline project

GAIL had challenged the Tamil Nadu government notification asking it to stop placing pipelines in agricultural lands and implement the project by laying them along National Highways

The Madras High Court on Monday quashed the order issued by Tamil Nadu government restraining implementation of Kochi-Mangalore gas pipeline project passing through agricultural lands in seven districts of the state.


State-run Gas Authority of India Ltd (GAIL) had challenged the Tamil Nadu government notification asking it to stop placing pipelines in agricultural lands and implement the project by laying them along National Highways.


The First Bench, comprising Chief Justice Rajesh Kumar Agrawal and Justice M Sathyanarayanan, also allowed the petition filed by GAIL seeking a direction to quash the order. The court had in September reserved orders on the plea.


The project involves laying of pipelines across the districts in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.


GAIL had first moved the court seeking a direction to Collectors and Superintendents of Police of seven districts in Tamil Nadu to provide protection to the company and enabling it to carry out the works.


However, the court observed that such direction cannot be issued as it did not want to create a situation as it happened in Nandigram and Singur villages of West Bengal and instead suggested conducting public hearings.


After public hearings were held, the Government had issued a notification on April 2 stating that pipelines could be laid along National Highways without affecting agricultural lands and urged the company to remove all pipelines laid in agricultural lands, which was challenged by GAIL.


A single judge then passed an interim stay directing the company not to remove the pipelines already laid and Government moved the court to vacate it.


The Government submitted that the project could be implemented by laying the pipelines along National Highways without affecting agricultural lands.


Some 300 km of the pipeline project passes through Coimbatore, Tirupur, Salem, Erode, Namakkal, Dharmapuri and Krishnagiri districts of Tamil Nadu.


Tarun Tejpal moves HC for anticipatory bail in sexual assault case

Tarun Tejpal, in his petition, has also sought transit bail to approach the appropriate court in Goa

Tarun Tejpal, the editor of Tehelka on Monday moved the Delhi High Court seeking anticipatory bail in a sexual assault case lodged against him in Goa.


Justice GS Sistani, before whom the petition was mentioned by senior advocates KTS Tulsi and Geeta Luthra, will hear the matter on Tuesday.


Tejpal, in his petition, filed through advocate Sandeep Kapur, has also sought transit bail to approach the appropriate court in Goa.


The alleged incident happened in a lift in a five-star hotel in Goa earlier this month.


The Goa police had on November 22 lodged an FIR against Tejpal under sections 376 (rape), 376 (2)(k) (rape by a person of a woman in his custody taking advantage of his official position) and 354 (outraging modesty) of IPC in connection with the incident.


Conviction under section 376 of IPC entails a maximum of life term in jail.


The issue came into the limelight when an email by the woman journalist of his magazine alleging sexual assault was made public and Tejpal announced on 19th November that he was 'recusing' from his job for six months.


Yesterday, a three-member Goa police team, which had arrived in Delhi on 23rd November, quizzed Tehelka managing editor Shoma Chaudhury and three employees who had been contacted by the alleged victim to corroborate her version.


The police also seized from the Tehelka office a hard disc, transcripts of emails exchanged among Tejpal, Choudhury and the girl and other documents.


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