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Friday, May 15, 2009
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The Supreme Court set aside the conviction of the general manager of JK Utility division of JK Synthetics Ltd. for issuing cheques which were dishonored by Bank of Rajasthan. The courts below, including the Madhya Pradesh high court, had affirmed his conviction under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act. On appeal, Ramraj singh vs. State of MP, he argued that he was not in charge and responsible for the conduct of the business of the company and therefore, under Section 141 of the same Act, he could not be held liable for the offence. The finance manager who handed over the cheques is absconding. The SC set aside the conviction, accepting the contention of the GM that he was not vicariously liable for the offence.
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The Supreme Court has held that freight and insurance charges are not to be taken into account in determining the value of goods for imposing excise duty. In the case, while the value of goods was to be fixed at the factory gate, it was decided between the parties that average freight and insurance were to be charged and not on actuals. According to the court, there were two separate contracts - one for the sale of electric meters, governed by the Sales of Goods Act, and the other governing the
transportation of goods.
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Profits earned from the sale of jaggery will be taxed as converting sugarcane into a sale able commodity like jaggery or gur is not an agricultural operation, an income tax appellate tribunal (ITAT) has ruled. The ITAT said in its order that the conversion of sugarcane into jaggery is not a necessary process performed by the cultivator to render sugarcane fit for being taken to the market.
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In the case of CIT vs. D. Anand Basappa, Karnataka High Court has held that benefit under section 54 of the Income Tax Act 1961 in respect of long term Capital Gain arising on transfer of a residential property in case of purchase/construction of a residential house can be claimed for more than one house. This judgement has clarified that the word 'a' used in Section 54 does not mean one. The expression 'a' residential house should be understood in a sense that building should be of residential in nature and 'a' should not be understood to indicate a singular number. Section 13
of the General Clauses Act declare that whenever singular is used for a word, it is permissible to include the plural.
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The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has asked banks to review their existing policies for lending to micro and small enterprises (MSEs) and frame norms for restructuring sick units that are potentially viable. RBI also said that banks should frame policies on extension of credit facilities and non-discretionary One-Time Settlement (OTS) schemes for recovery of non-performing loans. The central bank has asked banks to communicate the status by June 30, 2009.
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Providing relief to exporters hit by shrinking global demand, the Reserve Bank of India has extended the concessional interest rate scheme by six months till October 2009. The ceiling of interest rate on pre- shipment rupee export credit up to 270 days and post-shipment credit up to 180 days at BPLR minus 2.5% was to expire on April 30, 2009. It has been decided to extend the validity up to October 31, 2009.
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The Reserve Bank of India has allowed banks to issue guarantees beyond 10 years to keep pace with long- term loans extended by banks. In view of the changed scenario of the banking industry where banks extend long-term loans for the periods longer than 10 years for various projects, it has been decided to allow banks to also issue guarantees for periods beyond 10 years,.However, while issuing such guarantees, the banks should take into account the impact of very long duration guarantees on their asset liability management.
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Paving the way for the New Pension Scheme (NPS) the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) has announced investment guidelines for contributory plans. PFRDA has appointed State Bank of India, UTI, IDFC, ICICI Prudential Life Insurance, Kotak Mahindra and Reliance Mutual Fund as fund managers for NPS.
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The self-regulating money market association has revised valuation norms for perpetual bonds. Unlike other fixed income instruments, a perpetual bond cannot be redeemed, but pays a steady interest throughout its life. The change in methodology was announced by the Fixed Income Money Market and Derivatives Association (FIMMDA) in its quarterly communique to banks. A perpetual is to be priced now as a sum of yield on 30 year Government security and 15 year corporate bond spread. Earlier, the 10 year corporate bond spread was considered for the calculation. At least 17 state run banks have tier-I or equity capital adequacy ratio of less than 7.5%, making them prime candidates for raising capital. Most of them may hit the market with perpetual bonds.
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Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has extended the period for final realization of bad assets from the existing five to seven years to abate the pressure of NPAs mounting on companies. The bank increased the time limit for reconstruction and securitisation companies (SCS/RCS) for realization for reconstruction of assets taken by it.
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The bank customer receiving Real Time Ggross Settlement (RTGS) credit shall be provided with the
name of the remitter in his account statements or passbook. A bank customer sending a RTGS remittance shall be provided with the name of the beneficiary in his account statements/passbook. All RTGS member banks may initiate steps to comply with these instructions latest by June 1, 2009.
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The free and fair poll in world’s largest democracy is over and the new Government is in the
process of taking shape. The current economic outlook provides a great challenge to the policy makers. The entire nation and more particularly professionals including Chartered Accountants have to play a major role in shaping India's growth story. The Government needs to address following areas:
Recovery from Economic Slow Down: sentiments are getting better and a major economic push is needed to move towards rapid growth. The Government may consider the following -

  • To ensure that bank credit is available easily with lower interest rate. The interest rates require a 3 to 4 per cent reduction immediately.
  • The insistence on collateral by banks and their lackluster attitude to fund real estate, infrastructure, power projects and grass root expansions need policy support in shape of credit enhancement.
  • Immediately initiate massive PPP projects in the area of power projects, ports, roads, interlinking of rivers and watershed development.
  • Agriculture sector needs special technological input for better produce and empowerment to be able to afford cold chain facility and warehousing of products. Movement of agro goods across nation to be tax free and without any approval / licenses. Tax burden on agriculture including Mandi Tax and other levies to be withdrawn immediately.
  • To strengthen banks and financial institutional framework for longer channelization of funds at all levels - fiscal policy support for resource raising and deployment
  • Tax burden on Indian economy is mounting. The Government may consider reducing its size significantly. Indirect taxes including VAT, Service Tax and other taxes need substantial reduction. Direct tax may need to go down by 5 to 10 per cent.
  • Corporate debt restructuring need active support and approach of recovery by asset reconstruction companies need to give way to revival approach by supporting management and giving professional and financial input.
  • Government debt restructuring should be a major agenda. International and domestic debt should be pre-paid with an embargo on fresh borrowing. This is the right opportunity as deficit funding does not pose a major inflationary threat.

Governance: Transparency in governance is a must and major social steps are needed for a war against corruption and inefficiency. The Government / PSU jobs need not have the current protection to enable a lean and effective set up to be put in place.

Human Resource Welfare: The working human resource need a fresh dose of justice. The hand worker deserves better salary levels. The current labour laws are to be completely revamped to eradicate unnecessary requirements which may be irrelevant now. Social security to everyone through contributions is to be introduced for unorganized sector also. Long hours working being practiced by multinational companies in India has to be eradicated by effective laws. This exploitation is adversely impacting social fabric. Special treatment is required for BPO and night shift working community.
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In order to bring about uniformity in the manner of declaring dividend among listed companies, SEBI has made it mandatory for companies to declare their dividend on a per share basis only. This means that irrespective of the face value of the share, the company will have to mention the dividend on an absolute basis.
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In an important ruling, the Supreme Court (SC) has held that the Securities and Appellate Tribunal (SAT), a quasi judicial authority that presides over capital market related cases, has no powers to modify the penalty imposed on stock brokers by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI). While disposing of the case, SC made it clear that SEBI can suspend the license of a broker for minor violation of rules and cancel it altogether in case of major violations, and the tribunal cannot alter the market regulator's decision. There have been instances where aggrieved parties have moved to SAT against the SEBI decision and the tribunal has let them off after imposing monetary penalties. This is
despite the fact that the SEBI Act does not provide any such power to the tribunal.
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The Reserve Bank of India has stipulated the following in respect of transfer of shares/Preference
shares/Convertible Debentures by way of sale:

  • In case of transfer of shares from a resident to a non-resident / non-resident Indian and vice versa, the transferee / his duly appointed agent is required to approach the investee company to record the transfer in their books along with the certificate in form FC-TRS from the designated AD branch that the remittances have been received by the transferor / payment has been made by the transferee. It may be noted that "preference shares" mean compulsorily and mandatory convertible preference shares and "debenture" means compulsorily and mandatory convertible debentures. The form FC-TRS has been revised .
  • It has been decided that henceforth, the form FC- TRS should be submitted to the AD Category - I bank, within 60 days from the date of receipt of the amount of consideration. The onus of submission of the form FC-TRS within the given time frame would be on the transferor / transferee, resident in India.
  • In case of transfer of equity instruments where the non-resident acquirer proposes deferment of payment of the amount of consideration, prior approval of the Reserve Bank would be required, as hitherto.
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The Supreme Court held in the case, Raghuvir Singh vs. Hari Singh Malviya, that while calculating the compensation for the loss of income due to the death of a person in a motor vehicle accident, the dearness allowance and house rent allowance drawn by him should be taken into account. The motor accident claims tribunal took into account only the basic pay for computing the compensation under Section 166 of the Motor Vehicles Act. It was approved by the Madhya Pradesh high court. The Supreme Court set aside those rulings and stated that Dearness allowance should form part of income. House rent allowance is paid for the benefit of family members and not for the employee alone.