Regulations
Whatever may happen to the IPO investor, legal firms make money anyway

Legal e-mag reports how much law firms made from IPO, QIP rush last year. Amarchand & Mangaldas, Luthra, Crawford Bayley top the list

2010-2011 saw quite a few memorable IPOs (initial public offers) and QIPs (qualified institutional placements) last year. Whatever followed afterwards-with the market, the issuers, banks, the buyer companies or individuals-it was a win-win situation for legal firms that were consultants.

In its second annual report on capital markets published recently, "Bar & Bench", a legal webjournal, has listed the top ten legal firms that benefited as counsellors during the last fiscal. Amarchand & Mangaldas & Suresh A Shroff & Co (AMSS) emerged at the top of the list. Second is Luthra & Luthra which undertook some 20 transactions, then Crawford Bayley & Co with 18, AZB & Partners with 16 deals and Khaitan & Co with 15.

"Top-tier domestic law firms charge anywhere between Rs30 lakh (about US$65,000) to Rs80 lakh (US$175,000) for an IPO. For the EIL (Engineers India Ltd) IPO, insider sources revealed that Luthra and DLA Piper jointly quoted about Rs1.35 crore (US$300,000), Amarchand and O'Melveny quoted Rs1.65 crore (US$366,000) and S&R along with Dorsey had put in a bid of about Rs1.75 crore (US$388,000)," the report says. Yes, you can raise your eyeballs now.

Bar & Bench's yearly review has everything on upcoming IPOs, commentaries on select sectors and market expectations, and a round-up of the IPOs and QIPs that happened last year. It may appear surprising, that a legal magazine would do the job of a market analyst. After all, legal discussions and cases are supposed to be their field of interest; and incidentally, lawyers are also supposed to be occupied with courts instead of watching the movement on the Sensex. But if you are a financial consultant, you will see why it is imperative.

Financial and legal counselling is big money today. With every IPO and QIP that hits the market, banks, companies and wealthy individuals will make a go at a law firm for advice. Whatever follows-whether the buyer goes bankrupt or emerges with flying colours, whether the market crashes or its sunshine-the counseller stacks up his safe in exchange for his pearls of wisdom.

And what a stack it is! Amarchand acted as counsellers in 43 IPO/QIP transactions, of which 19 were worth more than $100 million. Their transactions included the Coal India IPO, Standard Chartered PLC IDR and PO of Essar Energy PLC. If we take Amarchand's fees at Rs1.65 crore for all 43 transactions, it will come to Rs70.95 crore. Similarly, Luthra would have earned Rs27 crore. However, the report announces that the firms cut their fees 'drastically' for government IPOs this year.

Apart from the Coal India IPO, none created a buzz, and most of them have seen the public react hesitantly. As Moneylife reported earlier, the BSE IPO index has moved only 6%, since its launch on 24th August 2009 to 29th April 2011. However, whatever the outcome, the legal firms have surely profited. And this is money earned during a time when there was a lull.

The markets are picking up again. While no major IPOs are being talked about now, they could surface after some time. The Power Finance Corporation's Rs6,000-crore FPO is scheduled to hit the market soon. Meanwhile, there will be a lot of other places from where the legal firms will get their moolah. After all, advice is for all times, high or low.

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COMMENTS

K A PRASANNA

6 years ago

In the process of bringing an IPO, many intermediaries make money - brokers, bankers, printers, registrars, auditors, rating agencies and legal advisors, for rendering their services. That is fine. But in some IPOs, the BRLMs collude with the promoters and hike the issue price and also play some role in rigging the price after listing. Those BRLMs are to be black listed.

SANarayan

6 years ago

Are there are corporatised law firms which are listed?

FIIs pump $1.61 billion into Indian equities in April

According to analysts, FIIs have been pumping funds into India because of its strong growth potential. They feel that in the coming days too, foreign fund houses are likely to infuse money in the Indian bourses

Mumbai: Betting big on the Indian market, foreign fund houses invested $1.61 billion (about Rs7,213 crore) in Indian equities in the month of April, reports PTI.

Foreign institutional investors (FIIs) were gross buyers of shares worth Rs54,174.40 crore, while they sold equities amounting to Rs46,961.10 crore, translating into a net investment of Rs7,213.30 crore, or $1.61 billion, as per data available with capital markets regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI).

According to analysts, FIIs have been pumping funds into India because of its strong growth potential. They feel that in the coming days too, foreign fund houses are likely to infuse money in the Indian bourses.

"The FII (segment) has been witnessing inflows in the last two months in India because they (investors) don't have many choices left. Besides, they are taking advantage of the country's growth potential," CNI Research CMD Kishore P Ostwal said.

In contrast, foreign fund houses were negative on the debt market and pulled out Rs17.20 crore. This takes the overall net investment by FIIs into stocks and bonds to a total of Rs7,196.10 crore.

In January 2011, overseas investors had pulled out Rs4,813.2 crore from the stock market. The outflows continued in February too, with Rs4,585.5 crore being taken out from equities. However, the scenario changed in March when they were net investors in equities worth Rs6,749.60 crore.

This has taken the gross purchases of equities in the country by FIIs so far this year to over Rs2.22 lakh crore. After taking into account the outgo of Rs2.17 lakh crore, overseas investors have made a net investment of Rs4,712.60 crore.

User

Why are our income-tax and foreign exchange management laws riddled with so many incongruities?

Right from the definition of a ‘senior citizen’ for tax evaluation to the definition of a ‘Non-Resident Indian’, our tax and forex laws are full of inconsistencies and discrepancies. It is high time the government removed these lacunae

Our laws—mainly those dealing in economic matters like the Income-Tax (I-T) Act and Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) are flawed, and riddled with inconsistencies. They leave the common citizen utterly confounded.

In fact, when I was having an informal chat with a top bureaucrat, he remarked in a lighter vein that if all our laws were crystal clear, a citizen would not find the need to approach the sarkari babus, who would then become redundant… and sent home! This, he quipped, was the reason behind legal provisions that are often confusing.

Let’s examine a few of the lacunae:

In the first place, the term “senior citizen” is nowhere defined in the Income-Tax Act, 1962. For “senior citizen“  assessees, the Finance Act 2011 has lowered the age for the threshold limit from 65 years to 60 years in Part III of the First Schedule dealing with tax slabs and rates.

The same Act has additionally created a new category of “Very Senior Citizens”—above 80 years. According to a report there are only 15,000 tax assessees in this 80+ age bracket, and one of them will be Manmohan Singhji!

On the other hand, corresponding or consequential changes on the same lines have not been brought in elsewhere in the Income-Tax Act in Section 80D for granting enhanced deduction for premium on health insurance to assessees completing 65 years. Similarly Section 80DDB (allowing deduction for expenses on treatment of prescribed diseases) is also applicable to those completing 65 years. Corresponding changes to lower the age to 60 years in these Sections ought to have been brought about at the same time. This is a glaring flaw, and necessary amendments need to be brought about immediately.

The other grey area is the term NRI (Non-Resident Indian), both in the I-T Act and FEMA (Foreign Exchange Management Act). This term, with its variants ‘PIO/OIC’, (Person of Indian Origin/Overseas Citizenship of India), is freely and very loosely bandied about—both by bureaucracy and citizens. Yet there is no common definition.

The Income Statute classifies assesses into ‘Citizen’, ‘Resident but not Ordinarily Resident’ and ‘Not Resident’ depending upon the number of days of their stay in India and outside India.  

FEMA (and FERA—the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act, now repealed) has an altogether different take on the criteria for defining an NRI—it lays down the purpose of the stay outside India, irrespective of the number of days spent outside India. Thus anyone, other than a person staying abroad to pursue business, profession or vocation but on a tour, for studies, prolonged medical treatment or to spend time with family staying there, is not considered an NRI under FEMA, even though he may be an NRI under the I-T Act.

The tax status of staying out has been imported by the Limited Liability Partnership Act. The authorities related to foreign exchange like the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) adopt the FEMA criteria. There are references to non-residents in the Companies Act, too. The FCRA (Foreign Currency Regulation Act) however, refers to “Foreign Citizens”.

The US IRS (Internal Revenue Service) has rightly targeted our diaspora who were trying to get the best of both worlds—residing abroad and not paying taxes on their funds parked in Indian banks in NRE (Non-Resident External)/FCNR (Foreign Currency Non-Resident) Accounts, which are tax exempt. The laws both in the US/UK as well as in India are very clear—declare the income earned anywhere in the world and claim legitimate exemptions/deductions like those provided by the Avoidance of Double Taxation Agreements entered into between the countries of their residence and India.  

Since both the taxation and forex statutes fall within the ambit of the legislative jurisdiction of the finance ministry, both these definitions need to be appropriately synchronised. There is no legal justification for applying two differing standards to a same individual.

(The author is a Chartered Accountant and has been an auditor of a number of insurance companies)

User

COMMENTS

nisban

6 years ago

[Reposted for an error in wrong mention of email address.]
Is it not suggestivem following the strain of the comments posted so far, that the FCRA office cannot be accessed/contacted through the internet for want of any e-mail contact address, even in today's atmosphere of the clarion call by Anna Hazare to revolt asgainst corruption and the general demand for transparency in governance? The only way to forward all this discussion to the FCRA is to send by post to The address to communicate with this Division is as follows: The Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs, Foreigners Division,
Jaisalmer House, 26 Mansingh Road,
New Delhi-110 011.
How very thoughtful of the IAS to leep it safe and protected and totally insulated from the polluting conundrum of grievances of the ordinary people!

nisban

6 years ago

Is it not suggestivem following the strain of the comments posted so far, that the FCRA office cannot be accessed/contacted through the internet for want of any e-mail contact address, even in today's atmosphere of the clarion call by Anna Hazare to revolt asgainst corruption and the general demand for transparency in governance? The only way to forward all this discussion to the FCRA is to send by post to The address to communicate with this Division is as follows: The Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs, Foreigners Division,
Jaisalmer House, 26 Mansingh Road,
New Delhi-110 011.
How very thoughtful of the IAS to leep it safe and protected and totally insulated from the polluting conundrum of grievances of the ordinary people!

TiraT

6 years ago

Now that Mr. Upadhyay has named the organisations, they shall invariably be visited with the severest punishment by the authorities, including the necessary denial of whatever aoporoval or concession they are legally entitled to and seeking. The Home ministry can areck havoc on any person and the IT department is so totally power-drunk as to unlawfully destroy the citizens' lives and properties and the charitable societies, unless their top officers and staff are paid their dues. The same applies traditionally to the department in MHA dealing with FCRA. Let us wait for Mr. Upadhyay's subsequent confirmation of the punishment meted out to the various NGOs named by him.

B Upadhyay

6 years ago

I have been following the lively discussions on the fine and thought provoking article of Shri Nagesh. I have noticed a tendency among the participants to refrain from stating the names of the sufferers of official apathy, harassment and compulsory punitive levies called bribes. I have an inkling that this emanates from the fear of tremendously tortuous and deadly reprisals from the official quarters, as is common. In India, harassment by authorities is so very naked and, since highly paid civil servants also expect and demand “tips” from the public like the petty waiters in restaurants, it is risky to expose these organizations to further denial of the benefits being sought by them. There is perhaps one more reason. That is, none of the government anti-corruption and regulatory bodies or the ministry of public grievances has a built-in system of overseeing these websites as feeds for their work. I doubt whether the Lokpal or Jan Lokpal, if ever born, will also watch your site or another very interactive and informative site for consumers. The same for the sites devoted to the RTI movement. Be that as it may, I would like to share with your readers a few examples of associations with which I have been associated.
One is a hospital run by the retrenched workers of a once huge factory in Howrah in Bengal. After losing their jobs, and closure of the factory, the workers did not lose their heart and entirely by their own initiative, started a hospital named as the Sramajibi Hospital under the banner of Belur Sramajibi Swasthya Prakalpa Samity. Even the patients’ cots, OT tables, etc., were manufactured/made by the workers themselves. The hospital is running for the last three decades, despite repeated attempts by the CPIM to destroy the facility and hand over the land to the promoters. All this is part of recorded history in terms of media reports.
When the society applied for approval under section 35AC for its ongoing expansion scheme, it was summarily rejected, after several hints to the attending volunteers to “meet” a certain person in the CBDT. As the hospital runs entirely on public donations and on a shoestring budget and pays only token allowances to the helpers (no salary is paid), it was not possible to garner the funds and do the needful. But a sympathizer-worker (a journalist himself) did venture to see an officer who curtly advised him to engage a given CA in Delhi to get the work done. Anyway, after the rejection of this first application, and as advised by a knowledgeable sympathizer, a second application has been made and it is certain to be rejected again for the failure on the part of the society to abide by the unwritten law of punitive taxation!
The same experience followed with the FCRA too. The first application was summarily rejected after a long wait and the refusal by the officials to talk to the aforesaid sympathizer-worker unless approached through one of the department’s (unofficial) panel of “aggregators”. As this would cost very heavily, the society could not afford to do so and the application stood rejected. Another application has been filed and is yet to be decided pending “field inspection” which was never done earlier. It can be expected that the officials shall repeat their performance for want of failure on the part of the society to listen to the officials. It is really open and naked and, under the present system, one can never even venture to meet the all-powerful officials, notwithstanding a thousand Anna Hazares.
Another NGO, always in need of funds, and working with and for the marginalized section of the society (Society for Regional Research and Analysis, Delhi) took 6 years in obtaining their first ever section 80G certificate! The Asstt. Director directly demanded money quoting the Director who refused to meet the official representatives of the society. It was learnt that such bif officers like the DIO, the DG, the Addl. Director, etc. of the department dealing with 80G matters of income tax DO NOT MEET ORDINARY PUBLIC! The dealing clerks and the then officer advised the workers to come through/with a certain CA, but that would cost several times more than what SRRA collects by way of public donations and alms! So the Director rejected the application twice on the found that it WAS NOT RUNNING A SCHOOL as claimed, though the dealing Asstt. Director never visited the school or asked the society to “arrange” for his visit and the accompanying facilities. The Director never heard them either. I understood later that, ultimately the certificate was granted no doubt, only recently, thanks to the intervention of a kind political figure which was frowned upon by the Director and his team.
Yes, the concerned societies all failed to take recourse to the RTI. The reason is, once this is done, the officers concerned will destroy the initiatives.
I am sorry for the length of my comments provoked by the gospel of the retired high officials. E&OE.
































































captainjohann

6 years ago

What the bureaucrat said in lighter vein is actually the truth.The Anna revolution is basically against these archaic laws of India which are meant to breed corruption by delaying citizens rights. Kinis article and Mr.Bannerjee's comments are revealing

Nagesh KiniFCA

6 years ago

It is gratifying to see the former members of the Income Tax writing about the blatant abuse of law on charities. yes, the NGO sector is full of bogus ones, CAPHART says a whole lot of them ought not be there. Some time back there was a call by the for re-registration. We need to know now the names. After all the Voluntary Sector are acknowleged as the second largest employer after the Govt. It needs to be regulated.

Nagesh KiniFCA

6 years ago

I entirely agree with Aurobindo Banerjee. Permit me let him know that I know of othersin the Revenue Dept. who can claim to have 'unremarkable careers' like Aurobido. They did reach the highest echelons and regret that they couldn't reach their full potential. In fact one CCIT is an Intervenor in Ram Jethmalani's bring the Swiss Bank loot back PIL.
All that is written about the NGO sector is absolutely true.
As one professionally dealing with this sector- the remedy to deal with a whole lot of flaws is to bring the Public Trust Act, Income Tax and FCRA provisions under a common umbrella. FCRA under Ministry of Home makes no sense whatsoever.

REPLY

Aurobindo Banerjee

In Reply to Nagesh KiniFCA 6 years ago

I am grateful for the most enlightening comments of CA Nagesh Kini, especially as regards his suggestion that 'the remedy to deal with a whole lot of flaws is to bring the Public Trust Act, Income Tax and FCRA provisions under a common umbrella' and also that 'FCRA under Ministry of Home makes no sense whatsoever'. Yes, I am also aware of my senior associated with the PIL. I wrote chiefly from the point of view of one associated with the eternally fund-starved NGOs who work silently without the ability to engage public school and elite college-educated and sophisticated fund-raisers and also to approach the CBDT and the MHA through their selected agents for obtaining the benefits which could greatly solve their financial problems. The large number of bogus NGOs, mostly operated and run by the top and influential civil servants' wives/children stand on a different and privileged scale. My reference was to the other exttreme, really. But grateful I sam to the learned Mr. Kini who may kindly also see my reply to Mr. Shibaji Das, IRS (Retd.) and ex-Member, CBDT and once my superior.

Shibaji Dash

6 years ago

Further to my comments posted an hour or so ago on charity provisions in the IT Act and administration as such of charitable organisations : bogus NGOs have mushroomed in the mineral rich states that are well populated by tribals who have adopted or have been made to adopt religeous practices unknown to them years ago. There does exist a not easily visible but direct nexus between the happening of mineral ((loot) money and the proffessed objectives of tribal welfare and upliftment. by NGOs in these regions . The more tense is the conflict in a district the more is the no. of these NGOs.Less a tribal district is ridden by coflicts, less is the no of NGOs in that district. Some of NGOs are of course doing work in the ground but their visibility is unimpressive to the discerning mind.

Shibaji Dash

6 years ago

Aurobindo Banerjee ought to know better than many, having the 1st hand experience of an insider for more than 3 decades. One can not fully take away the conflict of interest when it comes to the enactment of the restrictive provisions of the IT Act. After all, charity is the world over- worst in India-a covenient vehicle for tax avoidance/evasion.But this limitation certainly does not absolve the Finmin from the sin of enacting counter productive or self defeating provisions in the Act and gross maladministration thereof. We however need to recall that the IT Act is not a regulatory charity legislation. Charity is an item in the Concurrent List of the Constitution- and quite rightly so because administration of charity is a local matter, governed as it is by local culture and belefs. To my knowledge onlu the Maharastra Govt. not only has state legislations customising the Indian Trust Act enacted by the Britishers.May be, Gujarat has one. But in most of the States there are, if there are, hackneyed and disperate legislations and a junior functionary like a Dy. Collector is delegated the functions by the District Collector. Both the State and the Center will have to address the problems to have a respectable legal charity regime and effective administrative set up. Incidentally, the exemption or charity returns filed by the Societies/Trusts reportedly contain tell tale evidence of tax abuse but are hardly utilised by the tax man. Aurobindo's experience about the rank incompetence of the Exemption Directorate is shared by many and vented too. Who listens? Ironically, going by data available with concerned Central Ministies like, Social Welfare, Labour and also Finmin, overwhelming no. of NGOs exist only on paper ie, bogus. They loot public money and also work as the vehicle for tax avidance.With Aurobindo's evidence, IRS in India is overrated.

REPLY

Aurobindo Banerjee

In Reply to Shibaji Dash 6 years ago

I can hardly disagree with Shibaji, my senior and friend who oversaw the functioning of the entire department from a much higher level. He is certainly right, but being associated with some genuine NGOs working among the street children and children from the redlight area (and, that too, in a most backward district of Bengal), and a workers-run hospital in Belur (where heart operations cost Rs. 25,00), etc., I am aware of the real problems faced by these for want of FCRA and 35CCA approvals which cost enormously. It is too denigrating to even speak of these filthy functional realities of the CBDT and the Min of Home Affairs (dealing with the FCRA), and all fund-starved NGOs and those associated with them are aware of these too. I thank Mr. Kini too for his comments on my remarks and regret the delay in responding to both.

Aurobindo Banerjee

6 years ago

The very relevant question raised by the author and a very pertinent and lucid analysis indeed and I thank him for the same. From my own personal experience of rather a most unremarkable career in the Indian Revenue Service for 35 years, I can also add that, apart from the deliberate and conscious strategy of keeping the laws beyond the comprehension of even sufficient intelligence and even a sprinkle of legal knowledge, the reasons for which have been most cruelly expressed by Mr. Bharat Joshi, the laws are also definitely discriminatory in favour of the elitist class having a direct say in and the right to dictate the government's economic and political policies-inter alia as members of the PMEAC and NAC, etc. A provision has been incorporated in the FCRA stipulating a limit of just a pittance of Rs. 1 lakh per year upto which an NGO can receive foreign contributions (even from relations/friends)., while it is more difficult to collect donations from the corporates in India who in any case are unapproachable otherwise theough some exceptioally public-spirited and courageous govt. servants in authority and empowered to exercise legal discretions. And, to be frank, approaching the FCRA authorities is a stupendous task, impossible for the NGOs fro the remotest parts, without the paid services of prohibitively expensive middlemen. As a result, and for instance, while the FCRA has been amended almost stealthily without even making the proposed amendment public and specifically calling the attention of the affected/interested NGOs to the utter detriment of the ordinary Indian (native?) NGOs struggling to remain afloat to continue their charitable pursuits for the marginalised people or those even below the BPL, the Income-tax Act has been made so very restrictive in its application as regards the benefits available to the charitable societies as to debar them from approaching the citizens/philanthropists for donations in a most competitive market for soliciting donations almost entirely dominated by the Business School-educated MBAs engaged by the "multinational" NGOs with HQ abroad for this purpose. From my persoal interaction as one associated with rather unsophisticated and un-aristrocratic NGOs catering to the hapless, homeless widows, orphans,and the poorest of the poor class living on the verges of the cruel urban limits, I must admit rather shamelessly that, unless connected with the most powerfully influential strata of the ruling elite and a most professionally-built up network right from the public school days, it is impossible to obtain the beneficial approval under section 35AC of the Income-tax Act and, while a rejection is the rule, seldom are the applicants are even favoured with the anticipated rejection letters from the National Council which DOES NOT MEET even occasionally. A workers' hospital started by the jobless workers of a closed factory had started the venture with generous public support. For years it has failed to obtain this certificate to be able to collect tax-free donations and, the first application having been rejected without any hearing but intimated by a cryptic and non-speaking letter (not an "order"!), the subsequent ones were not even acknowledged. The reasons are, sadly speaking, too clear even in these days of the stated transparency in the administration still being run as usual by the same class as ever. And, as regards, obtaining the basic recognition under section 12AA of the Act (for obtaining the benefit of section 80G to raise donations of which 50% is tax-exempt), the stench of the filth is so overpowering as to discourage the NGOs of no pedigree to directly approach the offices of the Directors General/Directors of Exemption. In any case, they are invariavly advised to engage particular "representatives" to get the certificate and the cost is really beyond these poor NGOs and beneficiaries of their .sacrifices. Thus, in a country where it is unthinkable for the State to be omnipresent (though omnipotent) with its outreach to the most difficult-to-reach hamlets inhabited by unrecognised citizens (without voting rights even), without basic amenities of drinking warter, healthcare, primary schools, and the like, and the residents destined to be born and die without ever been registered as residents of Mera Bharat Mahaan, the small little services being rendered by the "lowlife" NGOs of common people are also being thawrted by our eminently ignorant bureaucrats depending entirely on the feedback from the lower underlings.
Can NAC at least hear me?

REPLY

sucheta

In Reply to Aurobindo Banerjee 6 years ago

Dear Mr Banerjee

Many thanks for this excellent , excellent analysis. Once again request you to write for Moneylife!
And thanks for your erudite observations on many of our pieces.
regards
sucheta

Aurobindo Banerjee

In Reply to sucheta 6 years ago

Your kind invitation is extremely alluring and an honour too, but for a bohemian like me, it is so difficult to organise myself and write a fullfledged article read by the eminent people! Shall try. But comments shall be there from time to time.

Bharat Joshi

6 years ago

It is simple and obvious...........so that the tax lawyers and ca's make money. Mr. Nani Palkhiwala said long ago that, " If tax laws are simplified, most of the tax consultants will be redundent." Will it ever happen, your guess is as good as mine..................

Vikas

6 years ago

As rightly pointed out by the bureaucrat, it is intentional rather than omission.

TiraT

6 years ago

The answer to the question posed as the heading of the piece is simple-because the authorities (both political and bureaucratic) do not want, in their vested interest, to simplify the laws so as to be able to share the loot/booty with the criminals/law-breakers, lawyers/CAs and the field officers! When the entire system is so corrupt from the top to the bottom as would be blatant enough to stall the PAC report on the 2G Scam or to criticise the CAG's findings on the CWG loot, the state of the moral fibre of the nation can be gauged easily. Political will is conspicuously missing, as much as the thoroghly corrupt and time-serving bureaucrats' desire to earn even an honest day's upkeep! One can just recall that the Benami Transactions Act was passed almost four decades ago. The Rules are yet to be framed under this Act though the draft had been submitted by the as yet less contaminated and reasonably less corrupt CBDT almost immediately only for the successive Revenue Secretaries to sit tight on the file to pleae and at the behest of the nexus between political-bureaucratic-big money-underworld.

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