Citizens' Issues
Rajiv Gandhi assassination case referred to Constitution Bench

The Constitution Bench, will also decide within next three months, whether the sentence of a prisoner, whose death penalty has been commuted to life, can be remitted by the government

The Supreme Court on Friday referred the matter on remission of life imprisonment of seven convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case to a Constitution Bench. The apex court also said its interim order staying the Tamil Nadu government's decision to free them will continue.


A bench headed by Chief Justice P Sathasivam said that the petition filed by the Centre, challenging the Tamil Nadu government's decision to remit the sentences, will be decided by the Constitution Bench and framed seven questions to be decided by it.


It said that the Constitution Bench, which will take up the matter within three months, will also decide whether the sentence of a prisoner, whose death penalty has been commuted to life, can be remitted by the government.


The court had on 20th February stayed the decision to release three convicts--Murugan, Santhan and Arivu-- whose death sentence was commuted to life term by it on 18th February in the case, saying there had been procedural lapses on the part of the state government on the decision to release them.


The apex court later on had also stayed release of convicts Nalini, Robert Pious, Jayakumar and Ravichandran in the case.


The Jayalalithaa government had on 19th February decided to set free all the seven convicts in the assassination case.


Santhan, Murugan and Arivu are currently lodged in the Central Prison, Vellore and they are in jail since 1991.


The other four are also undergoing life sentence for their role in Gandhi's assassination on 21 May 1991 in Sriperumbudur.


Maruti Suzuki Q4 net profit falls 35% on low volumes, higher expenses

Maruti Suzuki said lower volumes, higher sales promotion expense and a stock compensation paid to dealers owing to reduction in excise duty affected its net profit during the March quarter

Maruti Suzuki India Ltd (MSIL), the country's largest car maker, on Friday reported over 35% fall in its fourth quarter net profit on lower volumes, higher sales promotion expense and stock compensation paid to dealers.


For the quarter to end-March, the company, a unit of Japanese Suzuki Motor Corp (SMC) said, its net profit fell to Rs800 crore from Rs1,239 crore, while its total revenues, including sales, declined 9.5% to Rs11,818 crore from Rs13,056 crore, same period last year. However, MSIL said, its fourth quarter results are not strictly comparable with same period last year as Suzuki Powertrain India Ltd was merged with the company during the March 2014 quarter.


"Lower volumes, higher sales promotion expense and a stock compensation to dealers owing to reduction in excise duty (exceptional expense) impacted the company's bottomline during the quarter," MSIL said in a regulatory filing.


Between January to March 2014, the carmaker sold 3.25 lakh units, a drop of over 5%, compared with 3.43 lakh units it sold during same period a year ago.


For the 12-months to end-March, MSIL said its net profit increased 16.3% to Rs2,783 crore mainly on favourable foreign exchange as well as its cost reduction and localisation initiatives.


During FY2013-14, Maruti Suzuki said its total revenues, including sales, inched marginally to Rs42,644 crore.


MSIL said its sales during the 12-months to end-March, declined 1.4% to 11.55 lakh units, mainly due to lower exports. During FY14, Maruti Suzuki's experts fell 15.8% to 10.13 lakh units.


The company declared a dividend of 240% or Rs12 per share. For FY13, MSIL had declared a dividend of 160% or Rs8 per share.


At 2.30pm Friday, Maruti Suzuki was trading 2.5% down at Rs1,935 on the BSE, while the 30-share Sensex was marginally down at 22,701.


Somebody’s watching you!

Stores in the US, tried tracking customer's movements within their area via smartphone's Wi-Fi signals. But more than 75% customers hate tracking in a shopping mall

In fall 2012, Nordstrom began testing technology that allowed the retailer to track customers’ movements within its store via their smartphones’ Wi-Fi signals. Devices throughout the store would pick up the unique code broadcast by a smartphone and track the phone’s location – and the person carrying it –as it moved throughout the store. Nordstrom hoped the technology would teach them more about their customers’ shopping habits. But in-store signs disclosing the tracking made shoppers wary, and Nordstrom ended the test in May 2013, in part because of excessive negative feedback from consumers.

The reaction to Nordstrom’s test is not unique. Customers hate in-store phone tracking. An OpinionLab study from March found that 77% of shoppers thought in-store tracking was unacceptable, and 81% did not trust stores to keep tracking data secure. Consumer opinions were similar across age-groups.

But retailers remain keen on in-store tracking, in part because they see tracking as a tool to gather more information about their customers so they can better target advertising to them – sci-fi advertising a la Minority Report made real.

Tracking 2.0

And so this year a second wave of somewhat less invasive tracking, that requires consumers to download an app before seeing location-based ads, is being introduced. Foodie magazine Epicurious announced that it is teaming with inMarket to track consumers in supermarkets in order to send them coupons for discounts on recipe ingredients via an app. And Major League Baseball this season is using Citi Field, home of the New York Mets, to test its own phone tracking system to push ads for discounts when fans wander near the team store, among other things. But both Epicurious and MLB’s tracking would require consumers to have installed an app in order for the companies to contact the phones with deals – a kind of soft opt-in.

Yet the technology remains for advertisers to track all smartphones in-store, and it’s quietly being installed in more places. InMarket, which makes in-store Bluetooth beacons, claims to have access to 20 million shoppers already. And many stores don’t make clear whether they’re tracking you. This has Maryland considering a bill that would require stores tracking phones to post signs at all entrances to disclose the practice.

How you are tracked

Here’s how tracking works: All Wi-Fi and Bluetooth enabled devices have a MAC address, a 12-digit code that distinguishes, say, one iPhone from another iPhone or one laptop from another on the same Wi-Fi Network. When your device is looking for or is connected to a Wi-Fi or a Bluetooth hotspot, it broadcasts its MAC address. A retailer, by keeping track of the MAC addresses that are picked up by in-store hotspots, can see where a device goes in a store, how long it spends in a location — like how long a device is in the shoe section — and whether the same device returns to the same retail location or shows up at a different location for the same retailer.

And while a MAC address contains no personal information, it is possible for a retailer to cross-reference the address and thus put a phone number or email address to a device. So a store could pick up your phone’s Wi-Fi signal, cross-reference it to the email address you used to access the in-store Wi-Fi, and hit you with a marketing email for the shoes you’re looking at just now.

The tracking is not limited to customers who enter the store. Hotspots don’t know to halt tracking at the entrance, so a strong Wi-Fi signal from a department store could be tracking phones that pass on the sidewalk each day, or the laptops of the office workers at a different company upstairs. A store could be gathering information on your device without you ever setting foot inside.

Consumer options

Some companies who provide tracking technology, such as Nomi, allow consumers to opt-out of their tracking by entering their MAC addresses. And Smart Store Privacy, an arm of the Future of Privacy Forum, has an opt-out service in Beta testing that covers a handful of tracking companies. But not all companies offer opt-out services, and not all tracking companies have agreed to pay attention to the opt-out requests. Many stores are not upfront about whether they’re tracking smartphones, meaning many consumers don’t know who or what is watching them. Never mind that it’s hard to opt-out of tracking that you don’t know is happening.

U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D- New York, asked the FTC last June to require an opt-out opportunity before stores can track shoppers’ in-store movements. The FTC has indicated that it is monitoring the rise of in-store tracking, but has yet to take any action.

So, the best option for consumers who don’t want to be tracked at all is to turn off their phone’s Wi-Fi and Bluetooth before entering a store. Or just leave the phone at home. Otherwise, be aware: Someone may be tracking your phone, and they probably want to show you an ad.



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