Department states that there has been a more than 70% drop in traffic of these postal items. RTI activist Subhash Chandra Agrawal awaits response from government to his suggestions for changing some basic services
The use of simple postal facilities like postcards and inland letters has declined sharply over the past decade, since the introduction of the quicker Speed Post system and private courier services.
According to data from the postal department received by RTI activist Subhash Chandra Agrawal, the traffic of postcards has dropped 76% from a little over 336 crore in 1999-2000 to about 78 crore in 2008-09. Similarly, the use of inland letters has fallen 72% from 355 crore to 98 crore in the ten-year period.
Mr Agarwal had, in his application to the postal department, asked to know when the use of these postal items was at their peak, but the department could not give this information.
Postcards and inland letters were the most popular format and in many places the only means of postal communication some years ago. But fewer and fewer number of people use this service today, particularly in urban areas, where private courier services and e-mail is preferred over the post.
While e-mail is convenient, private couriers are known to be quicker in delivering letters and packages. It is also possible that the use of these once-common postal facilities has gone down even in towns and villages, with the availability of mobile telephone services that has changed the systems of communication quite dramatically.
Of course, a postcard which costs just 50 paise or the inland letter at Rs2.50 is still the only affordable for a majority of people. Some postcards (also called Meghdoot post card) that carry advertisements are even cheaper at only 25 paise.
But Mr Agrawal believes that the postcards should be charged one rupee ("Because 25-paise coins have been discontinued and even beggars refuse to accept coins below one rupee."), while the inland letter service should be discontinued altogether as it has lost its utility.
He has suggested that the Meghdoot post card should be priced at one rupee instead of the ordinary post card tariff of 50 paise and that whatever subsidy on this could be borne by advertisers sponsoring the Meghdoot post card.
In his recommendations to the government that were sent separately in May, Mr Agrawal also said that the Registered Post service be merged with the Speed Post by expanding the Speed Post network to more cities and towns and introducing an acknowledgement-due receipt with Speed Post for a charge of Rs5.
He has recommended a one-nation-one-tariff system of Rs15 for Speed Post instead of the current Rs12 for local and Rs15 for non-local delivery for a package of minimum 50 gm. He also said it was senseless that the next 450 gm is charged an additional amount equivalent to the charge for the initial 50 gm and urged that this loss in revenue be corrected.
Similarly, Mr Agrawal referred to the foreign mail tariffs that were fixed decades ago, saying that there should be separate rates for air mail and sea mail instead of the imposing a surcharge for air mail on the haphazardly fixed sea mail rates.
While refraining from passing any order on a PIL filed against telecom minister Kapil Sibal accusing him of reducing a penalty amount favouring Anil Ambani-headed RCom, the apex court said that persons aggrieved can avail remedy under the law
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday refrained from passing any order on a public interest litigation (PIL) filed against telecom minister Kapil Sibal accusing him of reducing a penalty amount favouring Anil Ambani-headed Reliance Communications (RCom), saying persons aggrieved can avail remedy under the law, reports PTI.
"No order is required," a bench comprising justices GS Singhvi and AK Ganguly said while taking on file the affidavit filed by Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL) accusing Mr Sibal of favouring RCom by reducing the penalty from Rs650 crore to Rs5 crore for alleged violations in the Unified Access Service Licence (UASL) agreement.
"If there is any irregularity allegedly connected whatsoever with telecom, it cannot be linked to the second generation (2G) spectrum," the bench said.
The bench made the remarks after senior advocate Rohinton Nariman, who appeared for the government in place of Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium, replied to a question whether the matter in hand was related to 2G.
"Not at all," replied Mr Nariman.
The bench clarified "persons aggrieved will be entitled to avail remedy in accordance with the law."
During the hearing when advocate Prashant Bhushan appearing for CPIL was pressing for the matter to be investigated as Mr Sibal had taken a unilaterally and final decision.
The bench said "it is open to CBI for investigation. I am not saying anything" adding, "the minister's decision may be right or may be wrong".
Mr Nariman appeared for the government in place of Solicitor General Gopal Subramaniam who was not seen in the court.
The affidavit had alleged that "Mr Sibal abused his position as minister to overrule the unanimous view taken by senior Department of Telecom (DoT) officials, including the telecom secretary, to benefit a private operator by closing the issue with only a penalty of Rs5 crore.
"This abuse of authority by him to benefit Anil Ambani-controlled Reliance Infocomm needs a thorough investigation by the CBI," the application said.
However, Mr Sibal rejected the allegations saying he had not favoured anyone and that the penalty imposed was as per the provisions of the agreement between Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) and RCom.
He described the Mr Bhushan's affidavit as the "worst case of forum shopping" and accused him of levelling "malicious and defamatory" charges.
SEBI asked stock exchanges to make necessary amendments to the relevant bye-laws, rules and regulations for the implementing the decision to grant membership to LLPs
Mumbai: Capital market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) today said Limited Liability Partnerships (LLPs), a hybrid between a partnership firm and company, can get membership of stock exchanges, reports PTI.
Following requests from various stock exchanges to permit LLPs to be admitted as members to enable them to get registration as stock brokers, SEBI said "stock exchanges may consider granting membership to LLPs".
The Securities Contract Regulation Rules, 1956 (SCRR) is only clear on Limited Liability Companies (LLCs) and partnership firms being eligible to be admitted as members of stock exchanges.
SEBI said that in this context it may be stated that LLPs are akin to LLC and partnership firms.
It asked stock exchanges to make necessary amendments to the relevant bye-laws, rules and regulations for the implementation of the decision.
The Parliament has put in place a legal framework for LLPs.
LLP is a corporate business vehicle that provides benefits of limited liability while allowing its members the flexibility of organising their internal structure as a partnership firm. As per the latest data, there were 5,501 registered LLPs in the country.