Shailesh Gandhi, the Information Commissioner under the RTI Act, would continue to hear cases till his retirement, except that he has requested the CIC not to send any new cases or fresh inputs so that no cases remain pending when he leaves the office
The Central Information Commission (CIC) has issued a circular clarifying that Information Commissioner (IC) Shailesh Gandhi, who is scheduled to retire on 6th July, will continue to hear cases till that day. However, fresh cases, from 12th May onwards, would be dealt with the reallocated public authority. The circular was issued following the rumours that Mr Gandhi was sitting idle after the CIC had asked him to stop hearing cases from 12th May.
Mr Gandhi, in an e-mail, said, “Generally when commissioners leave the office, many files and papers becomes orphans. To avoid such a situation, I requested the Chief Information Commissioner that fresh inputs should be stopped in my office and I would attempt to ensure that very few files or papers would be left when I retire on 6th July. Hence such a circular was issued.”
He adds that, “Incidentally, I have also released most of the staff so that they can work with the other commissioners. My office is only issuing letters for hearing and I am holding hearings. For 6th July the last hearing notices will be issued before 15th June. The chief commissioner had also issued a clarification on 25th May to squash the rumours. Incidentally, I am hearing cases of all the public authorities before me, including the CIC and have already cleared over 500 cases in this month.”
The CIC, on 11th May, issued a circular allocating the ministries and department held by IC Mr Gandhi to other information commissioners. Accordingly, the department of atomic energy, ministry of tourism, ministry of external affairs, ministry of environment & forests, ministry of information & broadcasting and Union Territory of Andaman and Nicobar have been allocated to IC Sushma Singh; municipal corporation of Delhi to IC Deepak Sandhu; all banks (expect State Bank of India and its associates) to IC Vijai Sharma and ministry of health & family welfare and CIC to IC ML Sharma.
In the same circular the CIC also said that from 12th May, fresh receipts relating to the public authorities of the ministries and department held by Mr Gandhi would be sent to the registry of the allocated IC.
Mr Gandhi, before becoming an information commissioner was actively involved in promoting RTI and using it effectively to improve governance. As IC he has given many landmark verdicts. This most important among them is to bring Public Health Foundation of India, which is private-public partnership, under the ambit of Right to Information (RTI). PPPs were out of the purview of the RTI Act by claiming they are not “public authorities”.
In April, when the Chief Justice of India (CJI) SH Kapadia commented that irrelevant queries filed under the RTI hampered the work of the judiciary, Mr Gandhi wrote to him saying this may “dampen the RTI journey” of the country.
If the Nifty manages to hold itself above Thursday’s lows we may see short rally
Lower-than-expected economic indicators and a weak rupee led the market lower for the second consecutive day. While the market opened weak, the Nifty hit the day’s high towards the close of trade but the recovery lacked strength as the benchmark settled 27 points in the negative. If the index manages to hold itself above the day’s lows, we may see some reversal. The National Stock Exchange (NSE) saw huge volume of 90.92 crore shares on account of May F&O expiry.
A weak rupee, which tumbled to a fresh all-time low of 56.50 to a dollar and cautiousness ahead of the release of key economic indicators, saw the market opening lower. These apart, dismal global cues weighed on the sentiments. The Nifty opened 55 points down at 4,896 and the Sensex dropped 87 points to resume trade at 16,225.
The rupee tumbled by 26 paise to trade at a new all-time low of Rs56.50 against the dollar in early trade on increased capital outflows and strong demand from importers. On Wednesday, the rupee had lost 57 paise to close at record low of 56.24 despite the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) efforts to prop it up.
India’s fourth quarter gross domestic product (GDP) growth of 5.3%, which was the eighth successive decline and the slowest in the last nine years, pushed the market to its intraday low. At the lows, the Nifty fell to 4,884 and the Sensex dropped to 16,086.
A positive opening of the European benchmarks provided the local market the much-needed support, pushing the indices higher, albeit in the negative terrain. The benchmarks hit their intraday highs towards the close of the session. The Nifty rose to 4,949 at its high and the Sensex went up to 16,277.
Paring part of the gains, the market closed off the highs. The Nifty settled down 27 points at 4,924 and the Sensex lost 94 points to end the session at 16,219.
The advance-decline ratio on the NSE was negative at 614:804.
The broader markets were mixed as the BSE Mid-cap index gained 0.36% while the BSE Small-cap index declined 0.57%.
BSE Realty (up 1%); BSE IT (up 0.35%); BSE TECk (up 0.31%); BSE PSU (up 0.29%) and BSE Power (up 0.21%) were the top gainers in the sectoral space. The key losers were BSE Auto (down 1.96%); BSE Bankex (down 0.87%); BSE Consumer Durables (down 0.81%); BSE Capital Goods (down 0.70%) and BSE Metal (down 0.21%).
The main Sensex gainers were Hindalco Industries (up 2.06%); NTPC (up 1.28%); Hindustan Unilever (up 1.26%); Cipla (up 1.08%) and HDFC Bank (up 1.06%). The top losers were Tata Motors (down 4.17%); ICICI Bank (down 4%); Maruti Suzuki (down 3.86%); Jindal Steel (down 2.57%) and Sun Pharma (down 2.37%).
The Nifty was led by Jaiprakash Associates (up 3.66%); Asian Paints (up 3.50%); IDFC (up 3.37%); SAIL (up 2.55%) and Punjab National Bank (up 2.46%). Maruti Suzuki (down 4%); ICICI Bank (down 3.90%); Tata Motors (down 3.89%); Jindal Steel (down 2.71%) and Bank of Baroda (down 2.21%) settled at the bottom of the index.
Markets in Asia settled in the negative as Spain’s banking troubles led to speculations that the country may seek a bailout. Besides, Japan’s industrial production rose at a lower-than-expected pace of 0.2% in April from a 1.3% rise in March.
The Shanghai Composite declined 0.52%; the Hang Seng fell by 0.32%; the Jakarta Composite tanked 2.17%; the Nikkei 225 dropped 1.05%, the Straits Times fell by 0.41% and the KOSPI Composite shed 0.08%. On the other hand, the KLSE Composite gained 0.35% and the Taiwan Weighted climbed 0.55%.
At the time of writing, the key European indices were trading with gains of 0.24% to 0.73% and the US stock futures were in the positive.
Back home, institutional investors—foreign as well as domestic—were net sellers in the equities segment on Wednesday. While foreign institutional investors withdrew Rs10.74 crore, domestic institutional investors pulled out Rs182.61 crore.
Royal Dutch Shell and Reliance Power today announced plans to set up a floating liquefied natural gas (LNG) import terminal off the coast of Kakinada in Andhra Pradesh by 2014. The plan announced by the two companies in separate statements is the same as the one for which state-owned gas utility GAIL India had roped in French utility GDF Suez and signed pact with Andhra Pradesh government for a 3.5 million tonne floating LNG receipt facility. Reliance Power jumped 3.92% to settle at RS94.05 on the NSE.
Kolkata-based Tide Water Oil Co plans to take its newly acquired Veedol brand of lubricants to Germany this year. The company, which acquired Veedol International from British Petroleum in the last fiscal, has already set up Veedol International DMCC in Dubai to cater to the high-value West Asian market. The stock declined 2.66% to close at Rs6,820.05 on the NSE.
Wheels India has registered a 37.56% fall in net profit at Rs 7.05 crore for the quarter ended 31 March 2012 compared to Rs 11.29 crore during the same period of the previous fiscal. However, the total income increased 21.95% to at s 578.37 crore during the quarter under review, from Rs 474.26 crore for the corresponding period last year. The stock declined 3.48% to close at Rs728 on the NSE.
Credit Suisse, in its hard hitting analysis says that India’s GDP growth for the March quarter is much below expectations and coalition politicians may put more pressure on the RBI for easing rates
India’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth for the March quarter at 5.3% is well below the market expectations of 6.1% and softer than anything seen during the global financial crisis when GDP growth bottomed at 5.8%. “It is hard to describe India’s March quarter GDP release as anything other than shocking. It will inevitably send shivers down the spines of senior coalition politicians, who will no doubt be heaping pressure on the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to react and react aggressively,” says Credit Suisse in a report.
Robert Prior-Wandesforde, director, Asian economics at Credit Suisse, said, “We certainly believe the RBI should shift to a greater emphasis on growth, given the fact that economic growth leads inflation and is running well below everybody’s estimate of trend. We also believe it will, with RBI governor D Subbarao able to point to the weakness of the RBI’s preferred measure of core inflation as evidence that underlying price pressures justify further monetary easing.”
With economic growth as weak as it is but headline inflation rates (both WPI and CPI) still troublingly high, the government also faces a dilemma—to raise or not to raise subsidised fuel prices. “Our guess is that some adjustments to subsidised diesel, LPG and kerosene prices remain more likely than not (with petrol prices having already been hiked by about 11% last week) but by less than we previously thought. The move may also be delayed by a month or two,” said Mr Prior-Wandesforde.
According to Credit Suisse, the weakness of growth clearly bodes badly for the public finances but should improve the trade deficit. “Our suspicion is that the latter has been adversely impacted by the initial effects of the currency depreciation, which is to boost import prices and hence the value of imports. Over time, however, the volume effects can be expected to dominate. Indeed this is evident in today’s numbers with real export growth picking up to 18% year-on-year from 6% and import growth slowing sharply to 2% from 27%. We also expect tomorrow’s April trade release to show a substantial improvement,” the report said.
According to data from Thomson Reuters, India’s March quarter growth has been the slowest in the past nine years and well below analysts' forecast of 6.1%. The pervious low was in the fourth quarter of financial year 2002-03. For FY 2011-12 the GDP growth slipped to 6.50% from 8.50% the previous year. The growth for the year fell below the estimated of 6.90%.
”The output breakdown of GDP showed widespread weakness with agricultural growth slowing to just 1.7% (from 2.7%), industrial growth down to 2.2% (from 2.6%) and services at 7.9% (from 8.9%). The last of these represents the biggest difference with the global financial crisis period when services growth remained above 9%. This in turn signals the more domestic nature of the current downturn,” says Prior-Wandesforde.
Chandrajit Banerjee, director general, Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) said that the Q4 GDP figures have reconfirmed CII’s own estimates, which show that the economy is in the throes of a serious slowdown and is performing worse than perception.
“With a huge fiscal deficit and a widening current account deficit, this calls for immediate and bold actions from the government and the RBI in a coordinated manner, which should be exclusively aimed at salvaging the economy. Repo rate and CRR cuts are called for as also measures from the government to kick start the investment cycle, since growth in capital formation has been negative for the last few months,” he said.