Citizens' Issues
Supreme Court refuses to release Subrata Roy from jail

Modifying its earlier order, the apex court allowed Sahara to sell its immovable properties from nine cities to garner Rs10,000 crore for Subrata Roy's bail.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday once again rejected Sahara chief Subrata Roy's plea to release him from jail and put him under house arrest. The apex court, however, modified its earlier order and allowed Sahara to sell its immovable properties situated across nine cities in India.

 

The Court also directed market regulator Securities & Exchange Board of India (SEBI) to release title deeds of the properties to be sold by Sahara in favour of purchasers for arranging the money. However, the apex court made it clear that Sahara can neither sell properties to related parties nor below the estimated value and circle rates. While allowing encashment of fixed deposits and bonds, the apex court also directed Sahara to deposit the proceeds in a bank account maintained by SEBI.

 

Meanwhile, according to reports, the Supreme Court has appointed senior advocate Fali S Nariman as amicus curiae in the Sahara-SEBI case. Coincidently, Adv Nariman earlier represented Sahara in its dispute with SEBI.

 

Sahara chief Roy has been in jail since 4th March after failing to appear at a contempt hearing in a long-running legal battle between his group and SEBI.

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Not Spared
Are the taxes in your repair and service bill going to the government?
 
Have you looked closely at your automobile repair & service bills, and re-checked the vast variety of taxes and other charges levied on everything—from spare parts to lubricants to labour charges? Chances are that you haven’t, because much of this comes as computer-generated fine print and is extremely confusing, like your cell-phone bill.
 
Yes, some workshops may give you an option of avoiding taxes, if you’re not taking a bill. That’s not something I wish to even comment on. I’m writing about citizens who insist on a bill. Or workshops which will insist on presenting the complete bill; you have no option but to accept it, especially if using the services of this authorised workshop is a condition of warranty, extended warranty or, in some cases, even insurance. 
 
You are, therefore, tied in to accepting a full bill with all taxes and charges—Central, state and local—added on. These can be as much as 30% of the total amount, at times.
 
Over the past few months, I have been asking manufacturers directly, as well as using my own sources to drill deeper, on whether the money, we, as customers and citizens, pay as taxes on spare parts, consumables and labour, is actually going back to the government or not. Some manufacturers respond and are very transparent about explaining the process as well as the checks & balances, while some are evasive.
 
Manufacturers dealing with the mass market appear to be complying with the law, especially the top six which have been around in India for decades. I don’t want to name them as some of them have given me this information ‘in confidence’.
 
The luxury car and bike manufacturers, especially a couple of the newer ones, however, acted coy. The buzz is that they have brilliant evasion schemes in position. These are also the ones which are not listed, operate as subsidiaries and appear to be under the impression that it’s they who make the rules.
 
This is roughly how it works. The manufacturer has a network of authorised dealers and garages. In actual fact, the service & repair is done by a similarly named outfit which provides the bill, which is not the actual entity mentioned as the authorised garage; that’s where the diversion, as well as evasion, takes place.
 
If you want to protest, here is what to do. Scan the copy of your latest automobile garage bill and file an RTI application with the department of revenue asking for information on whether the specific money collected as taxes and service tax from you was remitted to the government or not. Even better, file a public grievance online, stating that you have reason to believe that the taxes and service tax charged may not have been remitted to the government.
 
If just a few of us do this, everybody will fall in line because there is no economic crime worse than collecting taxes from us but not remitting it into government coffers.
 
Make Private Transport Costlier
What should the new government do for the automobile sector? Better and easier public transport and easier movement of goods and people across the country should be a focus area. It should also make private transport costlier. If this is so, there will be more disposable income in people’s hands which they may or may not spend on luxury vehicles for themselves. But the one segment of the market that was buying higher-end vehicles as though they were going out of fashion was the Government of India. It should move back to more sensible cars. If the favourite vehicles of the new prime minister are any indication, then anything bigger than a Mahindra Scorpio will simply not be preferable. Let’s hope.
 
(Veeresh Malik started and sold a couple of companies, is now back to his first love—writing. He is also involved in helping small and midsize family-run businesses re-invent themselves.)

User

COMMENTS

Gopalakrishnan T V

2 years ago

In our economy there are umpteen ways of evading the tax or other dues payments to the Government. It is doubtful as to whether all the business and service establishments whether they are big or small are having some registration and authorisation.The governmet officials are happy to see them unauthorised so that their collections are assured. In major cities and towns there are mushroom growth of varities of service providers llike furnishing houses, auto service agents,etc. They handle business in lakhs and crores taking advantage of boom seen in the income among the middle class. Mostly they take hard cash and they never issue any receipt indicating their registration number, license details etc. In india, it is high time that for every purchase there hould be a receipt with all details of registration number, license number, tax collections etc. No cash transactions under an circumstances. There should be a tie up between banks, these dealers and Government Departments to which the tax goes.There should also be a social audit by citizens who are known for integrity , honesty and public services and welfare. Hope the new Government will go in for really strong Governance Standards and find the resources for all its development plans.

Debit card annual fees: Why most customers shouldn't be charged.

While many appreciate the progress from ATM cards to debit cards, there are many bank customers out there who do not see any real reason for shelling out a hundred rupees every year as annual fees

The banking industry has come a long way and today we are almost at a stage where everyone has a bank account. Those of us living in cities could have two and those living in metros could have even three to five accounts. I remember reading somewhere that the upper middle class has at least six bank accounts per family. From being a privilege for the wealthy and for those working in the Government services, banking has become a basic necessity of life. In fact, most parents get a bank account in the name of their as soon as they get him/her into school. How could they not? After all, a whole bunch of bankers run around them explaining the advantages of opening a child account, how it could help the kid become responsible, how it will help in education, and so on. The moment you open a bank account, a recurring deposit in the name of the kid and a life insurance policy are up next. That's okay. After all, the world is growing.

 

Banks want to have their cake and eat it too. Guess what, they have been successful at it.

 

Over the last many years, I have been looking at the changes happening in the banking sector. After computerization of the banking industry, banking has more to do with marketing than with calculations. The computers and software take care of all the calculations and thus, the banks are now better positioned to use human resources to generate revenue. Not so long ago, a bank employee would spend majority of his time in accepting deposits and making payments across the cash counter, making him a cost centre for the bank. Modern bankers (like ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank, etc) aggressively market their products by showcasing their services like ATMs, Internet Banking, Phone Banking, etc, making them a revenue centre.

 

Inter-bank fund transfers through internet banking attract charges too. Internet banking was supposed to benefit the bank by reducing the cheque clearing work, thereby leaving behind a lot of time for bank employees to work on other fronts. Its a different story that phone banking, which was supposed to help customers on a toll free number, is now offered on a paid line. So, all these services that came up to help customers have helped the banks more than the customers. Of course, no one can deny the many conveniences we enjoy today. The point I want to make is that all that was free, now comes at a cost.

 

Even an SMS sent to customers are subject to charges now. The SMS initiative came as a measure to ensure safe banking and now it costs the customers to ensure that he banks safely. Somehow, it doesn't convince me that my bank account is not safe with the banks with this paid SMS facility.

 

Debit Card Annual Fees - A trap?
 

Before declaring charges for their SMS facility, the banks introduced annual fees for debit cards. This one is perhaps the most annoying charge that today's customers pay. I personally had nearly 10 debit cards on my name up till some time ago (the side effects of working in the banking and financial services industry). One fine day, I realised that I had been paying a lot of money in the name of 'Debit card annual fees'. At Rs110 per card, I had been paying almost Rs100 a month. Since I would hardly use those cards I started closing those accounts one by one and yet, I was left with five of them. I was still stuck with paying Rs500 plus taxes for no sensible reason whatsoever.

 

Banks benefit more in terms of time and cost than the customers

 

Banks came up with the idea of ATMs in order to save time for customers and more importantly, for themselves. While customers do benefit from these cards, the banks benefit far more. Imagine the bankers sitting around and processing cash withdrawals of Rs100-1,000 to thousands of customers everyday in today's world.

 

A large number of customers still do not extensively use cards
 

It is a well known fact that a large number of customers who possess these cards, especially the ones in rural areas or the ones in business, seldom use these cards. Sole proprietors and, to some extent, Partnership firms have cash on hand, which they use for their daily expenses and this cash is received by them in the course of daily business. Most of their withdrawals are in the form of payments to third parties by cheques or transfers. So, the card lies in their pockets or lockers and they keep paying the annual fees.

 

Use of debit cards for shopping is very low
 

Banks promoted debit cards saying that these cards can be used at ATMs of other banks as well as be swiped at merchant terminals. However, the number of customers using debit cards for shopping is very low. Most customers who have a credit card would prefer swiping their credit card, thereby getting more than a month's time to pay the amount, rather than swiping a debit card where the amount goes off immediately. It is only when there are some offers, discounts, cash backs, etc that customers consider swiping their debit cards.

 

Five transactions only
 

The banks' promotion of debit cards quoting that these can be used to withdraw cash from any ATM doesn't appeal anymore. After all, only 5 such transactions in a month are free and the customer has to pay for the 6th transaction. However, banks have continued to offer unlimited transactions at their own ATMs even today.

 

Banks should bring back the ATM card
 

While adapting to technology should be encouraged, banks should also provide for such customers who do not want to use technology that doesn't help them. Its like asking a banker to learn Hadoop or Big Data, as they are the latest technologies. There are some banks who are still issuing ATM cards on request. In fact, I got an ATM card from one of the leading private sector bank on placing a request for the same.

 

There was absolutely no need for the bankers to do away with an ATM card and make the customers opt compulsorily for debit cards. An ATM card is a boon for those customers who do not use the ATM often or do not intend to shop with it. Banks are making big bucks with these charges but it is time they realize that they focus on tailored solutions instead of making generic products. While many appreciate the progress from ATM cards to debit cards, there are many customers out there who do not see any real reason in shelling out a hundred rupees every year. In fact, there are awkward situations when such charges result in a drop in balance, and such a drop results in a cheque bounce. Online consumer forums are full of such complaints.

 

Reintroducing ATM cards would be a friendly step to help customers who have too many debit cards, or those who seldom use them. Levying an annual fee on all cardholders could be legally permissible but when you look at it from the ethical or customer service perspective, it may not fly well with customers. Although, abolition of the annual fees in totality would be more of a dream for customers.

User

COMMENTS

vinc

2 years ago

Hi I have heard that the so called free debit cards are also charged indirectly. I was told by someone that,when the quarterly or six monthly SB interest is credited to the account, this is netted off for the so called "free debit card" charges. Is that true?

PRASAD V

2 years ago

SBI levies NEFT charges, SMS charges on Corporate salary accounts too.Can RBI inform the public about the various charges that a Bank can charge, if its applicable.Personally, my opinion is that the charges can be withdrawn.

REPLY

Amiit Gupta

In Reply to PRASAD V 2 years ago

yes prasad dear ,for that we have to fight then only they will listen..so start fighting against wrong procedure..

S Bethamangalkar

2 years ago

Banks should issue ATM instead of DEbit card as default and not charge for it.

Amiit Gupta

2 years ago

Can we raise this important matter to RBI & IBA like customer who use more than 05/10 transaction per month in any atm should charge X amount as debit card fees else no fees..banks are making huge money to take fees from all customers..Thanks Amiit Gupta

Tarak Shah

2 years ago

I still own an ATM only card of ICICI.

Charles Carvalho

2 years ago

Yes bank has taken charges to another level. Am charged 250 plus service tax for their debit card. The account was a 7% interest account that required a 1 lac minimum balance. At the time of opening the account they claimed that the card was free. Feel like a big fool who has kept a 1 lac fixed deposit for 7% and paid charges for doing so. Lesson learnt- yes bank, no sir!

REPLY

MOHAN SIROYA

In Reply to Charles Carvalho 2 years ago

There are other hassles and traps too at Yes Bank. Better if consumers avoid it as a caution.

forkarun

2 years ago

I have simple ATM cards from HDFC BANK and AXIS BANK which they issued in replacement of the debit cards when I insisted on having them. Some other banks like Indian Bank and IDBI BANK does not have this facility at all, and could not act on the reuqest. It must be made obligatory on the part of banks to issue simple ATM cards if the customer says that he/she does not need a chargeable debit card. But, how?!

REPLY

MOHAN SIROYA

In Reply to forkarun 2 years ago

As far as IDBI concerned , one should not bother even if it is Debit cum-ATM card . There is no charge for it unless U R a SB privilege A/C holder.
Since last many years, I am having free ATM cum Debit card from IDBI.

Amiit Gupta

In Reply to MOHAN SIROYA 2 years ago

if one bank provide the nice facility so why not IBA & RBI push to other banks also for the same like IDBI process..right Mr. Siroya..

AJOY KUMAR SARAF

2 years ago

Not only the P>A> charges for ATM Debit Cards are unwanted but I have a Current A/c with HDFC Bank where they even charge if the Withdrawal is from other bank"s ATM. which is rediculious and nonsense to levy as if I have to go to HDFC Branch it will cost them more

REPLY

MOHAN SIROYA

In Reply to AJOY KUMAR SARAF 2 years ago

Mr. Saraf or others who hold the CURRENT A/C should note that for each and every thing they will have to pay in other banks too. No protection is awarded to them as Consumers, as the current A/C falls in Business catgory.

Raviraj

2 years ago

Very good article. I had the same experience with HDFC Bank where my ATM card was forcefully converted to Debit Card and I'm being charged for the Debit Card which I never use and I'm not given an ATM Card however ICICI Bank do provide an ATM Card.

p k Mohanty

2 years ago

Very well rsearched and analysed article on the issue. The point is banks are trying to short shift their small time customers to make up for the big dents made to their bottomline by corporate clients in terms of non performing assets. Small and sometimes essential services are charged without any logic, which should be reviewed in its entirety. P K Mohanty

sivasankaran

2 years ago

service can never be free.you have to pay for the convenience you are enjoying.those who want conveniences can opt to have no debit card.

Suresh Bisht

2 years ago

Good article. I have three debit cards issued by 3 PSU banks. They force us to take debit card even if you do not require (earlier there was no charge). Then start imposing cost. PSU banks charge lot of money even without informing customers. They just mention in some report that charges are revised. I noticed that all blames goes to private banks who fleece customer but PSU banks quitely raises charges. I think it is high time all PSU banks should be privatised and old employees should be compulsorily retired.

Sachin M Regundwar

2 years ago

I agree with Banks on one point that they need some amount to maintain their ATMs (card printing, rentals for ATM centers, security guards, money deposits in the ATM kiosks, etc.). But, keeping all these expenses asides, they saved a lot in terms of staff, stationary, maintenance in terms of crowds,etc. As a compromise, banks can do one thing. They may keep the cards free for those customers who has more transactions with them in a year. Those who transacts more with a particular bank, that bank may offer a free ATM card to them and those who transact very less say 4 times in a year may be charged for ATM card. I feel this may be good option for them to save them from any losses.

a mehta

3 years ago

I think it is not at all fair to charge the debit card fees. After all customer use debit card to draw money which otherwise they would have gone to the bank branch to do so. The banks are saving on staff, stationary, etc. Banks also have reduced the size of the branch premises because people go to ATM to draw the money. consequently they are saving on maintenance also. With all the savings that the banks do when customer uses debit card instead of personal withdrawal from the bank to draw money, why should they make more money by charging annual fees?

MOHAN SIROYA

3 years ago

As Mr. Puneet Kumar rightly agreed that at bank's discretion this type of ATM cum Debit cards can be at a service fee plus tax. And once this right is conferred on them by RBI, no amount of cajoling by customers and or Activists will help for abolition of such fees, because these are easy earnings for them to boost revenue. But then there are also such banks who do see a point in not charging for this to the customers ,especially for small/SB account holders. One such bank is IDBI Bank.
Now let someone compile statistics to show that how banks earned more business and good will by not levying any annual fee for issue of such cards. Such statistical and factual analysis will definitely influence or motivate other banks too to consider abolishing this charge.
If not then in the interest of small and SB account holders ; the regulator(RBI) can withdraw this charge from the Bank's authority and direct them to issue only ATM cards without Debit card facility, when asked by the customers .

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