Additional solicitor general Haren Rawal, appearing for the CBI, pleaded that the trial could not be completed within the stipulated time frame because of 18 days of strike by lawyers and 10 days of court vacation
New Delhi: The Supreme Court today decided to hear a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) plea for more time to complete its proceedings in the trial in the multi-crore Satyam accounting scam, involving the company's founder B Ramalinga Raju and nine others, reports PTI.
The court also decided to hear the bail pleas of four of the accused.
Tagging the CBI plea with the bail pleas filed last week, a bench headed by justice Dalveer Bhandari issued notices to all the scam accused on the application moved by the prosecuting agency.
While taking on board the CBI's plea for hearing, the bench praised it for the speedy proceedings in the case and asked it not to seek any adjournment.
"There is no doubt that you (CBI) did an admirable job," the bench said.
The agency approached the apex court after its failure to stick to the 31st July deadline fixed by the apex court last November, to complete the trial.
Additional solicitor general Haren Rawal, appearing for the agency, pleaded that the trial could not be completed within the stipulated time frame because of 18 days of strike by lawyers and 10 days of court vacation.
He submitted that deposition by 211 witnesses in the court has already been completed and only 15 investigating officers are now left to be examined by the defence.
The court, after hearing the Mr Rawal's submissions, issued notices to all the accused, seeking their stand on the CBI application for grant of more time.
While cancelling Raju's bail in October, the Supreme Court had stated that the accused could file bail application only after 31st July, if the trial in the case was not completed by then in the local court.
Mr Raju and six other accused, who are currently lodged in Chanchalguda Central Prison in Hyderabad, had earlier moved the Andhra Pradesh High Court for bail as the July deadline for the trial to be completed could not be met.
The high court, however, had refused to grant them bail, prompting four of them to approach the apex court, which, while agreeing to hear their pleas, had issued notice to the CBI on 16th September.
The four who have approached the apex court for bail are Satyam's former internal chief auditor VS Prabhakar Gupta besides its former employees G Ramakrishna, D Venkatpathi Raju and Ch Srisailam.
Besides Mr Raju, the other accused in the case include his brother B Suryanarayana Raju, Satyam's former MD B Rama Raju, ex-CFO Vadlamani Srinivas, former employees G Ramakrishna, D Venkatpathi Raju and Srisailam, former PWC auditors Subramani Gopalakrishnan, T Srinivas and Satyam's former internal chief auditor VS Prabhakar Gupta.
Mr Raju, Satyam Computer founder and its former chairman, had surrendered on November 10 last year before a Hyderabad court adjudicating the nation's biggest corporate fraud, allegedly to the tune of Rs14,000 crore.
The case of Arvind Kejriwal, RTI and anti-corruption campaigner, about his not being relieved from government service even five years after he quit, highlights the need to hasten the process of relieving employees after they have resigned
Recently, when Arvind Kejriwal was given a notice from the government office where he worked previously and he rebutted it with his own explanation of the facts, an interesting aspect that came to the fore was that despite having formally resigned from service in February 2006, as per government records he was still in service. Thus, because he has not been able to pay back his computer loan and because he possibly needs to pay back his salary for the two-year period when he had taken study leave as per the provisions of the Central Civil Services (Leave Rules) 1972, his resignation was still pending with the Government of India. I find it amusing, because this is a man about whom the entire world knows that he was an IRS officer who resigned from his service and is openly pursuing a lot of social causes, but the official records possibly refer to him as an officer on undeclared leave.
I must say that Mr Kejriwal's is not a solitary case of a huge delay in acceptance of resignation from service, that too in such superior services like the IAS and IPS. I have two IPS friends from Uttar Pradesh, Dawa Sherpa, who is now a senior leader in Gorkhaland often involved in the agitation on issues related to Gorkhaland, and Kiran Jadhav, who is now in the corporate world. Both of them resigned three to four years back, but their resignation applications are still pending and they are, theoretically, still in service. Thus, while in the IPS civil list Mr Sherpa is listed as "absent from 20/08/2008", Mr Jadhav's status is simply "DIG absent".
An even more interesting case is that of Sanjay Pandey. Before working in the same service, we studied together at IIT Kanpur. Mr Pandey is a BTech in Computer Sciences from IIT Kanpur, which I would think is one of the most coveted achievements for a student in India. Like many others idealists, he also drifted to the Civil Services in 1986. Later, he probably he did not relish the job to the extent that he had wished he would and he resigned from service in 2000.
He wanted to join the private sector, but according to his version, "since they had not accepted my resignation for long, it was causing me problems in the kind of jobs I did in the private sector. Since they did not accept the resignation, I withdrew it in August 2001. Later I heard they had accepted the resignation." It possibly became a matter of principle for Mr Pandey and there were a slew of court cases. Today, Mr Pandey manages his own IT firm, although the website of the Maharashtra Police reads: Shri Sanjay Pandey, w.e.f. 18/06/07 (SP Level) - I. P.S. Officer Under Compulsory Waiting.
Now, as far as the rules are concerned, rule 16(2) of the All India Services (Death-Cum-Retirement Benefits) Rules, 1958, states that a member of the service may, after giving at least three months previous notice in writing to the state government concerned, retire from service on the date on which such member completes 30 years of qualifying service or attains 50 years of age, or on any date thereafter to be specified in the notice. In addition, there is also Rule 16(2A) of the above rules for those cases in which a member of the service has completed only 20 years of qualifying service, where again, he may after giving three months previous notice in writing to the state government, retire from service. The only latch here is that this notice of retirement shall require acceptance by the central government as well. There is also an office memorandum of the Government of India dated the 16 October 1978 which says that under the Service Rules, retirement of a member of the service becomes effective on the expiry of three months' notice given by him, unless he is under suspension.
Though at the same time, in the guidelines for acceptance of notice of voluntary retirement, dated 16 October 1980, it is also written, "In cases where disciplinary proceedings are pending or contemplated against a member of the Service for the imposition of a major penalty, and the disciplinary authority having regard to the circumstances of the case is of the view that the imposition of the major penalty of removal or dismissal from service would be warranted, the notice of voluntary retirement given by the officer concerned may not ordinarily be accepted." I think it is possibly this clause that often comes in the way of acceptance of the voluntary resignation application of many IAS and IPS officers, though this may not always be the reason.
Presumably there are other examples as well where there is no disciplinary inquiry pending against the officer and yet his case remains pending for years. Even in those cases in which the disciplinary inquiry is pending, I hold the view that once an officer has presented his case for voluntary retirement and has thus already made a move not to serve the government anymore, it only befits the concerned government that, based purely on the merits of the case, his/her disciplinary inquiry gets decided as quickly as possible.
This is important because, often, in the name of such pending inquiries, the application of voluntary resignation is kept pending for years, making a mockery of the entire procedure. It is because of this that we find an ex-IPS officer participates in the agitation in the hill lands of Darjeeling and is yet listed as "an SP absent from the job" on the services records, and another former officer who runs an IT firm is called "SP on compulsory waiting".
This is one more area in which we require swift decision-making by the government to rid ourselves of such an unsavoury situation, where a Mr Kejriwal says: "If the government feels that I am still in service, would it mean that I shall come and join the service so as to ask for voluntary retirement the next year when I should have theoretically completed 20 years in service?"
(Amitabh Thakur is an IPS officer from the Uttar Pradesh cadre and president of the National RTI Forum.)
"I think the main reason for the current sluggishness is the high property prices. If the property prices come down, there could be an increase in demand even if the interest rates go up a little," NHB chairman and managing director RV Verma said
Mumbai: Housing finance watchdog National Housing Bank (NHB) has said demand for home loans will slow down in the next few months due to high property prices, reports PTI.
"Housing loans can be a bit sluggish because buyers feel there is no way of getting properties at a reasonable price, (and) they are postponing their purchases," NHB chairman and managing director RV Verma told reporters here over the weekend.
Since April, home loan growth has been 16% to 17%, which is 1 percentage point lower than the previous fiscal. He further said he sees credit offtake lower at over 15% for the full fiscal.
Mr Verma, however, maintained that it is booming property prices, rather than the repeated rate hikes by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), that is affecting demand.
"I think the main reason for the current sluggishness is the high property prices. If the property prices come down, there could be an increase in demand even if the interest rates go up a little," he said.
The RBI has increased key short-term rates by a record 12 times over the last 18 months, with an eye to tame uncomfortably high inflation, which stood at 9.78% for August.
Home loan buyers, especially those who are on floating interest rates, are one of the worst-affected categories of buyers affected by the higher interest rates, as the cost of servicing loans obtained at lower rates has gone up.
Mr Verma said the NHB has asked housing finance companies to monitor loans, especially those at floating rates, closely to look for any signs of stress building up.