Law students and advocates have challenged the Bar Council order that makes the examination compulsory. But while the court has not decided on the issue yet, the exam, which was postponed twice, is to be held on 6th March
A decision on the legitimacy of the All-India Bar Examination (AIBE) is pending in the Supreme Court. However, without any further announcements from the court or the Bar Council of India, the exam is set to be held on 6th March, as scheduled. But according to activists, if the exams are held without the matter being resolved, there could be legal complications.
"If the exams are allowed to be held as scheduled, and later the court decides that the exam itself is invalid, all the students and advocates will suffer. There will be legal complications, which may harm their careers and hamper proceedings in court," said RTI activist Babubhai Vaghela, who has petitioned the court to cancel the exam.
The confusion was set off when the Bar Council of India (BCI) decided to hold an all India exam in 2010. The Bar Council declared that it was compulsory for law graduates to pass the exam in order to become advocates and appear before the court. This condition, however, violated the provisions of the Advocates Act, 1961, which does not make any such exam mandatory. According to the Act, any law student who has acquired his degree, can register as an advocate with the local bar council and start his practice.
But the Bar Council, through a resolution, declared an amendment to the Act and declared the exam compulsory, which anyway is strictly the power of Parliament to do so.
Many writ petitions were filed before several high courts, challenging the BCI's authority to hold such an exam. Both activists and law students opposed the exam, saying it was arbitrary and violated Article 14 of the Constitution that gives citizens the right to equality. Many regional bar councils also opposed the exam, questioning the rationale of adding one more exam in the already long list of exams that law students have to take to earn their degrees.
"This exam is not going to improve the quality of legal education," Mr Vaghela said. "It will be an additional harassment and will prove disadvantageous to students who come from rural or impoverished background."
Following this controversy, the exam was postponed twice, first to December 2010, and then again to March 2011. Taking note of the situation, the Supreme Court allowed the BCI to transfer the petition to the Delhi High Court and club all six writ petitions.
However, even as the matter was sub judice, the BCI declared that it would despatch roll numbers to the students appearing for the exam. While the petitioners have urged the Supreme Court and the government to take a decision on the matter before the scheduled date of the exams, there has been no conclusion yet. Confusion prevails and criticism has been mounting against the BCI and the AIBE.
Judicial activist Sandeep Jalan said, "In the absence of any notices, if the exams are allowed to be held it will give the impression that it is valid and that the BCI is authorised to hold such an exam. It will be better if the exams are postponed until a decision is reached."
Several depositors and HNIs were duped in the Rs460.91 crore fraud, which was engineered by a Citibank's global wealth manager Shivraj Puri who was working at Gurgaon branch of the bank
New Delhi: The government today said that Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has conducted a special inquiry into Rs460 crore Citibank fraud case and was in the process of completing its final report, reports PTI.
"The RBI has conducted a special scrutiny of the related accounts at Citibank, Gurgaon (branch) and other connected accounts at other banks. The final report is being completed," minister of state for finance Namo Narain Meena told the Lok Sabha in a written reply.
Several depositors and high networth individuals (HNIs) were duped in the Rs460.91 crore fraud, which was engineered by a Citibank's global wealth manager Shivraj Puri who was working at Gurgaon branch of the bank.
The US-based Citibank is headed by Indian-born Vikram Pandit, who is currently on a visit to India. The government had in 2008 honoured Mr Pandit with the Padma Bhushan.
Pointing out that the fraud in the Citibank's Gurgaon branch was going on since September 2009, the minister said, "The major transactions took place between May 2010 and November 2010. The bank has furnished details of the fraud to the RBI in the Fraud Monitoring Report."
Citibank's manager Mr Puri, Mr Meena said, "Perpetrated the fraud by mobilising funds to the tune of Rs460.91 crore unauthorisedly from HNI customers and certain corporate for the purpose of investing in stock market, assuring them high returns."
While providing details of the modus operandi, the minister said, Mr Puri fabricated a circular of the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) to lure people into investing into accounts held by his accomplices Premnath, Shiela Premnath and Deeksha Puri.
The investors, Mr Meena added, were even issued fake receipts/acknowledgements on Citibank's stationary.
The funds thus collected through the "Premnath Account" were transferred to various brokerage houses for making investment in the securities market.
"There were 27 other accounts which had been opened in the (Citibank's Gurgaon branch) in the names of Mr Puri's relatives..," the minister added.
Besides, he said, the fraudulent transactions also took place in the accounts of broker firms like BG Financial Services, G 2S Management consultants and Normans Martin Broker.
The fraud came to light after the bank look into a query from a customer at Citibank's Nehru Place branch about its scheme offering high returns.
After discovering the fraud, the Citibank on 5th December 2010, filed a complaint with the Gurgaon police which is investigating the case.
Concerns over the wider disruption of supplies from OPEC countries could fuel further oil price increases, but at the same time improve realisations of oil companies in India which are reeling under under-recoveries
Soaring prices of crude oil in the international markets due to the political unrest in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), will improve the realisations of private oil exploration and production companies in India, according to a research report by CRISIL.
"The margins of refining companies will also improve and the political unrest in the MENA region which has already been rocketing prices of crude oil, would fuel further price increase," the rating agency says. The report states that average crude oil (Dated Brent) prices are expected to increase more than 15% to over $102 per barrel in the fourth quarter of 2010-11 as against the previous quarter.
"In a year when we expect world dependence on OPEC oil supply to increase, concerns over a wider disruption of supplies from OPEC countries will fuel further oil price increases," said Sridhar Chandrasekhar, head, CRISIL Research. (OPEC, or the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, is an intergovernmental body of 12 oil-producing countries which together account for more than two-third of the world's reserves. Most of these countries are located in the MENA region.)
Following the Union Budget presented in Parliament earlier this week, state-run oil companies from India are proposing to raise petrol prices by up to Rs4 a litre to offset rising crude oil costs, arguing that the Budget had ignored their demand for a cut on duties on fuel. The government freed pricing of petrol in June last year.
India imports 80% of its energy requirement and the average price at which India imports crude oil is about $110 a barrel. Oil companies say they are losing Rs10.70 a litre on diesel, Rs21.60 a litre on kerosene and Rs356.07 on a cooking gas cylinder.
Kisan Ratilal Choksey Shares and Securities said, "We believe it is a loss for the oil companies as no duties were cut on the fuel. Simultaneously, the subsidy amount has been reduced to Rs23,640 crore from Rs38,386 crore, a decline of 13%. With no relief from the Budget, the oil companies have no choice but to raise the petrol price which was deregulated last year. We believe this would help the companies to compensate their revenue loss."
Private and government-owned refining companies too will benefit. CRISIL, an affiliate of the international ratings and financial services company Standard & Poor's, expects gross refining margins to rise from $6.8 per barrel in the third quarter of 2010-11 to $8-9 per barrel in the fourth quarter.
On 2nd March, crude oil prices touched $116 per barrel, the highest level since the middle of 2008, and prices are expected to move northward on fears that the violence could spread to neighbouring countries such as Saudi Arabia and Iran.
Before the dust had settled in Egypt, the Libyan crisis erupted, leading many oil companies to suspend their operations there. Libya accounts for close to 2% of the global oil output. Last week, Nomura International (HK) said, "If Libya and Algeria were to halt oil production together, prices could peak above $220 per barrel and OPEC's spare capacity will be reduced to 2.1 million barrels per day, similar to levels seen during the Kuwait-Iraq conflict and when prices hit $147 per barrel in 2008."
Crude oil prices, which were already inching up over the past two year on the back of improving fundamentals, started soaring, as political turmoil erupted in Tunisia in December. As the uncertainty over oil supplies disturbed market sentiment, the unrest in Egypt pushed oil prices to over $100 per barrel.
However, CRISIL feels that "government-owned oil exploration and marketing companies will not benefit as much, as they will have to shoulder an increase in subsidy burden on account of rising oil prices."
The subsidy burden for oil marketing companies would nearly double on the quarter to Rs300 billion in January-March from Rs155 billion in the December quarter. The government compensates losses of oil marketing companies from the sale of petroleum fuels at lower than the cost price. The total under-recoveries for this fiscal ending March are expected to cross Rs750 billion.