SC challenges HC verdict bringing CJI office under RTI

The petition, though drafted more than a month ago, was filed today by advocate Devdutt Kamat on behalf of the apex court registry and the case would be argued by Attorney General GE Vahanvati

The Supreme Court (SC) on Monday filed an appeal before itself challenging the judgement of the Delhi High Court holding that the office of the Chief Justice of India (CJI) came under the ambit of the Right to Information (RTI) Act and was liable to reveal information under it, reports PTI.

The petition, which has been filed after CJI KG Balakrishnan had consultations with his fellow judges, raised the point that information held by the CJI is sensitive in nature and its revelation would hamper the judiciary's independence.

The petition, though drafted more than a month ago, was filed today by advocate Devdutt Kamat on behalf of the apex court registry and the case would be argued by Attorney General GE Vahanvati.

The apex court will be seeking an immediate stay on the High Court ruling, otherwise it would be under obligation to reveal information under the RTI Act.

In a path-breaking verdict, the Delhi High Court had on 12th January held that the office of the Chief Justice of India comes under the purview of the RTI Act and rejected a Supreme Court appeal, saying that judicial independence is not a judge's personal privilege but a responsibility cast upon him.

The verdict was being seen as a setback to Mr Balakrishnan, who has consistently been maintaining that his office does not come under the transparency law and hence cannot part with information like disclosure of judges' assets under the RTI Act.

 

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Government says it is ready with CCI norms for M&As

Although the government has operationalised several provisions of the Competition Act, it is yet to notify Sections 5 and 6, which mandate companies to seek the CCI's go-ahead

The Indian government on Monday said that it is ready with the regulations to give teeth to the competition watchdog Competition Commission of India (CCI) for examining mergers and acquisitions (M&As) and would notify it once the Commission develops expertise in tackling such cases.

"A lot of capacity-building is still required (in the CCI). If we notify it (merger norms) today, you know we are not ready because after we notify it a lot of people will come, it will become a very major problem. We must be ready in terms of capacity—staff, expertise and other areas," corporate affairs minister Salman Khurshid told PTI.

Although the government has operationalised several provisions of the Competition Act, it is yet to notify Sections 5 and 6, which mandate companies to seek the CCI's go-ahead.

The ministry of corporate affairs has held extensive deliberations with industry and other stakeholders on the sections relating to takeovers and issues like the time period for vetting M&As.

Mr Khurshid said that all the issues raised by the industry have been addressed and now it was time to strengthen the CCI.

"I think every issue that industry has raised, we have addressed them satisfactorily. They have turned back with a reasonable look of satisfaction," he said.

After notification of the sections, all mergers which would increase the combined assets of the merging entities to more than Rs1,000 crore or raise the turnover to Rs3,000 crore, would require the CCI's approval.

Sources had earlier said that the CCI would hire about 180 personnel for various posts, including that of an adviser.

The CCI, currently employs about 50 professionals with several persons on deputation from various government departments for one year only.

In May last year, the government notified Sections 3 and 4 of the CCI Act, empowering the Commission to take up cases pertaining to anti-competitive agreements and abuse of dominance.

The Commission has become fully functional early this year with the appointment of chairman Dhanendra Kumar and other members. It draws its powers from the Competition Act, passed by Parliament in 2002.
 

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PE-VC space may see big-ticket deals this year, say experts

Sectors likely to attract maximum number of PE-VC transactions are clean-tech, consumer products & services, microfinance, mobile VAS & consumer Internet, aerospace, defence and the rural & healthcare space

Big-ticket deals in the private equity (PE) and venture capital (VC) space are likely to make a comeback this year as the downturn has made valuations more realistic and economic conditions are showing signs of stability, believe experts.

"There is definitely an upturn in terms of the quality of deals in the recent past. Besides, the slowdown has brought more sanity and clarity in the investing scenario with valuations of companies (the) world over plummeting last year due to an adverse impact on their fund-raising plans," Reliance Venture Asset Management chief executive Harshal J Shah told PTI.

Echoing a similar view, VCCEdge research director Rohit Madan said, "There was an aura of uncertainty which is now lifting. It was more about sustenance than expansion. As economic conditions stabilise and credit markets return, funds are coming back to the table and looking at new deals."

According to VCCEdge, the financial research platform of VCCircle.Com, private equity investments in India in the first two months of this year stood at $465 million. Meanwhile, the total number of VC investments announced during February this year stood at three amounting to $11 million as against eight deals worth $31.10 million in the year-ago period.

Elaborating further, Mr Shah said that the market was seeing a lot of good and valuable deals coming at the 'right valuations'.

Besides, the quality of deals improved because the downturn has made valuations more realistic and has resulted in manageable expectations among entrepreneurs and investors in terms of executing business plans, he added.

"I see a lot more conservative but realistic valuations and a greater deal flow in 2010 as compared to 2009," Mr Shah said.

VCCEdge's Mr Madan believes that though there will definitely be some big-ticket deals in the coming months, it is unlikely that they will match up to 2007 or even 2008 levels.

The sectors that are likely to attract maximum number of PE-VC transactions are—clean-tech, consumer products & services, microfinance, mobile VAS & consumer Internet, aerospace, defence, rural and healthcare space.

However, SMC Capitals equity head Jagannadham Thunuguntla said, "The deal volume may remain lacklustre in the near future, as valuations have stretched on the back of strong capital market rally and PE investors are unable to match up to that speed."
 

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