National Herald case – Rahul, Sonia to appear before court on December 19

Newsroom24x7 Desk

sonia gandhiNew Delhi : A Delhi court today gave respite to Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Vice President Rahul Gandhi from personal appearance in the scheduled hearing of National Herald case, which thus proceeded in their absentia. However, the court has demanded a personal presence in the next hearing, for which the court asked the Gandhis to appear before it on December 19. Based on their plea for today’s exemption, Metropolitan Magistrate Lovleen allowed absentia for the day. But, the court has issued order to all the six accused persons in the case, and asked each one of them to appear in person on December 19. In the Magistrate’s exact words — All six accused persons are directed to appear on December 19.

Senior Advocate Abhisekh Manu Singhvi appearing on behalf of the accused stated at the court that Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi were ‘keen to appear’ before the court in National Herald case and had requested an absentia just for today.

With the winter session in progress, the National Herald case made its way into both the houses, and created ruckus within the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, as MPs (Members of Parliament) from the Congress block protested against the ruling central government. Both Parliament Houses were repeatedly adjourned after Congress members disrupted proceedings shouting slogans, accusing the government of political vendetta.

The protest found support from their leaders too when Sonia and Rahul Gandhi today accused the Modi government of pursuing ‘political vendetta’ against them in the National Herald case. The Congress party alleged that such cases were being pushed to fulfil BJP’s attempt of a Congress-free India. The Gandhis, from their side, asserted that truth would ultimately prevail despite the ‘vicious and malicious’ attack. In Sonia Gandhi’s very own words — I am the daughter-in-law of Indira Gandhi. I am not scared of anyone. I am not disturbed.

Rahul Gandhi who was in Cuddalore, reacted on the case and spoke to media, saying — That is not going to happen.This is the way Central government functions. I absolutely see a political vendetta.

The party also fielded three of its senior leaders and lawyers, namely — Kapil Sibal, Abhishek Singhvi and Randeep Surjewala, who insisted that the government and BJP wanted a ‘Congress-mukt’ Bharat, and hence such cases against Congress leaders were being pushed. But, they added, ‘People of India will ensure that Congress comes back to power with a bang like it had done in past. We have nothing to fear, nothing to hide.’

Debt-for-equity swap provision being looked into – RBI

Newsroom24x7 Desk

rbi2New Delhi : The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is taking cognizance of its SDR (Strategic Debt Restructuring) scheme launched in the first half of this financial year and is still hopeful of a good success ratio on its implementation. RBI’s Deputy Governor S.S. Mundra informed today that RBI is looking into a provision it introduced in June to help lenders managed stressed assets. Arguing in its support, he added that it was too soon to write off the debt-for-equity swap tool as a failure. ‘It is a work in progress. You will hear…more from us on this soon,’ he added, saying, ‘We are looking into it.’

Strategic Debt Restructuring (SDR) aims to allow banks to take majority ownership of troubled firms and look for new owners. It allows banks to classify the debt in question as ‘standard’, rather than bad, during the 18 month process. To date, SDR has been invoked in 9 cases but none has yet sold assets or significantly reduced debt.

In June 2015, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) had come out with the stringent strategic debt restructuring (SDR) scheme incorporating features like majority (51 per cent) stake for banks in stressed companies, faster conversion of debt into equity and bringing in a new promoter. According to the RBI norms, banks which decide to recast a company’s debt under the proposed strategic debt restructuring scheme must necessarily hold 51 per cent or more of the equity after the debt-for-share conversion.

Additionally, at the time of initial restructuring, the joint lenders forum (JLF) would have to incorporate an option to convert the entire loan (including unpaid interest), or part thereof, into shares in the company in the event the borrower is not able to achieve the viability milestones. And, they must adhere to ‘critical conditions’ as stipulated in the restructuring package.

Last month end, Gammon India’s lenders started the process of swapping their debt into equity under the strategic debt restructuring (SDR) scheme.Earlier, this engineering firm Gammon India, being pulled down under heavy debt, had announced a major loan restructuring exercise in 2013 under which it would convert debt of over Rs 14,800 crore into equity. against this, lenders would be issued fresh shares worth more than Rs 4,500 crore. Gammon’s CDR package was approved in June 2013. Its board then approved conversion of restructured debt — worth Rs 14,814.17 crore — into equity shares. The company then decided to issue over 34 crore shares, at a price of Rs 27.05 apiece, aggregating to Rs 929.99 crore to the lenders on preferential basis. This issue would be towards conversion of fund-based facilities — working capital term loan and funded interest term loan — at any time during the CDR package implementation.

India-Pak NSA level talks – Opposition complains, US applauds

Newsroom24x7 Desk

NSA talksNew Delhi : The recent NSA level talks between Ajit Doval and Nasser Khan, the national security advisors of neighboring countries India and Pakistan created rebel in the political galaxy of India as the talks were scheduled unannounced and took place at a distant destination – Bangkok, far from the home soil of either of the two participating countries. Annoyed by a post-meet disclosure made via joint statement, Congress and other opposition parties termed it as a meet of secretive intent, and demanded explanations from the NDA-led ruling government.

The meet had earned a go-ahead agreeance between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif, when they met in Paris last week. Bangkok was chosen as an easy access point for the simple reason, as explained by the Ministry of External affairs (MEA), that it was a convenient location for both sides.

Apparently, the suddenness of disclosure post-meet brought the state of affairs of the meet under the category of a dramatic development, wherein, the National Security Advisors of India and Pakistan held a [secret] meeting in Bangkok discussing a range of issues including peace and security, terrorism and Jammu and Kashmir. It was speculated that these cordial talks with Pakistan could lay the groundwork for PM Modi’s visit to Pakistan next year for SAARC summit.

A joint statement issued later by MEA stated the Foreign Secretaries of both countries had accompanied the NSAs, and the discussions covered peace and security, terrorism, Jammu and Kashmir, and other issues like tranquility over the Line of Control. Talks which lasted for over four hours brought into discussion all subjects which connected well with security and dispute area of Jammu and Kashmir. PM Modi is being credited for taking initiative of such an NSA-level meeting, as a building base adding upon Ufa declaration on NSA-level dialogue. The Bangkok initiative is being viewed as an opening route for further meets between the NSAs paving way for carrying forward the constructive engagement to next successful stage. NSA-level talks were scheduled earlier this year when the two Prime Ministers had met for a bilateral summit in Russia’s Ufa on the sidelines of a convention. But the meeting fell through at the last minute over a proposed meeting between Pakistan’s then Security Advisor Sartaj Aziz and the Kashmiri separatists.

Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj is all set to travel to Pakistan on Tuesday today for participating in an Afghan conference. There were difference of opinions regarding the agenda of the meeting too, with Pakistan pushing for an open agenda and India maintaining the talks should be confined to terrorism.

US has welcomed India-Pak talks in Bangkok. The US has shown appreciation for the initiative and welcomed the weekend NSA-level talks between India and Pakistan in Bangkok observing that ‘normalization’ of relations between the two South Asian neighbors is positive. A US state department spokesperson stated — We welcome reports of the meeting between Indian and Pakistani officials. We support any and all positive steps Indian and Pakistan can take to reduce tensions, engage in dialogue, and forge closer relations. The normalization of relations between India and Pakistan is vital to both countries and the region.

The State Department also encouraged Pakistan’s step of hosting the Heart of Asia Summit this week in Islamabad, which among others would be attended by the External Affairs Minister, Sushma Swaraj, and the Afghan President, Ashraf Ghani. The US spokesperson added — We are pleased that Pakistan is hosting the Heart of Asia Summit. We are also encouraged that President Ghani, Indian Minister of External Affairs Swaraj, and other senior officials will be attending. The meeting is an opportunity for the United States and all participating countries to discuss our shared commitment to a stable, peaceful, and prosperous Afghanistan. The Deputy Secretary of State, Antony Blinken and Special US Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Olson would represent the United States in the fifth meeting of the Heart of Asia process in Islamabad on Tuesday today.