Week in Review

Updated: Dec 22 2002, 05:30am hrs
PARLIAMENT ATTACK
Death Penalty For Three
In the first such instance under Pota, a designated court on Wednesday sentenced to death three men convicted in the sensational Parliament attack case for waging war against the country, rejecting pleas for leniency. However, it imposed a mild punishment of five years rigorous imprisonment on the lone woman convict.

Special Judge S N Dhingra awarded capital punishment to Jaish-e-Mohammed (JEM) terrorists Mohd Afzal and Shaukat Hussain Guru and suspended lecturer of a Delhi University college S A R Geelani.

The fourth convict, Shaukats wife Navjot Sandhu alias Afsan Guru, found guilty of concealing the plot, was sentenced to five year rigorous imprisonment. She was also fined Rs 10,000 and was ordered to undergo additional imprisonment of six months if she failed to deposit the fine amount.

The court had on Monday held the three guilty of waging war against India in conspiracy with the five slain Pakistani terrorists and JEM chief Maulana Masood Azhar, the outfits chief commander in Jammu and Kashmir Ghazi Baba alias Abu Jehadi and one Tariq Ahmed for the attack on Parliament on December 13 last year by a suicide squad of militants. Afshan Guru was held guilty of not disclosing the plot despite having knowledge of the same.

BANKING
Draft Guidelines On Securitisation Ordinance
The Reserve Bank of India on Wednesday issued draft guidelines for securitisation and asset reconstruction companies and said its role under the new Act would be to suggest conditions and eligibility criteria with regard to grant of registration certificate to existing as well as new entities for carrying out the business.

The apex bank is empowered to prescribe appropriate prudential norms relating to income recognition, accounting standards, capital adequacy and deployment of funds for such companies under the securitisation ordinance 2002, which has been passed by both Houses of Parliament and awaiting presidential assent, it said in a statement in Mumbai.

The RBI said it was empowered to frame guidelines for such companies to take necessary measures for asset reconstruction, including management and rescheduling of debt. The apex bank can also direct either generally or to a particular class of entities or to a entity regarding deployment of funds, acquisition of any type of financial assets, their valuation and aggregate value of financial asset that can be acquired, the statement added.

DROUGHT
PM Announces Relief For Farmers
In a move to mitigate sufferings of farmers in 14 drought-hit states, Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee on Wednesday announced in Parliament waiving of interests for one year on kharif loans taken by them.

Recalling that government had earlier deferred the current years interest on both kharif crop loans and agricultural term loans and rescheduled payment of principal amounts, Mr Vajpayee said, I have now decided to waive completely, the first years deferred liability of interest on kharif loans as a one-time measure.

Those having availed of this facility would be entitled to obtain an endorsement of this waiver directly from their loaning bank, he said, adding appropriate guidelines in this regard would be issued by the Reserve Bank of India.

Stating that the government had sanctioned an allotment of 38.75 lakh metric tonnes of rice and wheat worth Rs 4,000 crore free of cost to the 14 states, Mr Vajpayee said more foodgrains would be made available to the needy states depending on the utilisation. He, however, suggested proper monitoring of the utilisation of the foodgrain in generation of relief employment.

GUJARAT
Modi To Be Sworn In As CM
After engineering a landslide victory in the assembly elections, Narendra Modi was formally invited by the Gujarat governor, Sunder Singh Bhandari, on Thursday to form government in the state. Mr Modi, who was formally elected to lead the BJP legislature party on Monday, will be sworn in today. Mr Modi, who led in BJPs winning of 126 seats out of the 181 seats in the state assembly, sounded reconciliatory and mellowed down when he spoke to mediamen after the meeting of the newly elected party MLAs. Mr Modi assured that even those who opposed the BJP in the recent elections would be treated equally by his new government. In a rare display of humility, the chief minister designate said, It is easy to digest victory, but not a landslide. Mr Modis name for chief ministership was proposed by senior state BJP leader Ashok Bhatt in a meeting of the newly elected party MLAs attended by BJP president Venkaiah Naidu and former state chief minister Keshubhai Patel. A triumphant Mr Modi though did not spell out the priorities of his to-be-formed government. He added that his government would not only be a government for those who voted in his partys favour but would also be for those who voted against it. Its magic will be this: Equal rights to everybody, appeasement to none, but justice to all. Mr Modis swearing-in-ceremony is likely to be attended by Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and deputy prime minister LK Advani.

STOCK SCAM
JPC Blames Sebi, Finance Ministry
The Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC), which probed the stock scam and freeze of UTIs US-64 scheme, squarely blamed the finance ministry and the Sebi for last years multi-crore securities scam.

Although action has been taken by the finance ministry and the Sebi when the stock market was rising unusually, the committee is of the considered view that both these should have been more pro-active and vigilant, the voluminous report tabled in Parliament said.

The report said, The committee has agreed that there was a ministerial responsibility. This flowed from the principles that the ministry has been repeatedly emphasising the need for expeditious corrective measures for effective regulation and controlling the high degree of volatility in the stock market. Without naming the-then finance minister Yashwant Sinha, the report tabled in Parliament held the UTI management and the finance ministrys lack of pro-active role responsible for the fiasco of the US-64 scheme. It said the finance ministry being the financial custodian of the country is duty bound to protect the interests of small investors.

The JPC also indicted big bull Ketan Parekh for being the key player in the scam. The committee was of the view that there was a nexus between Ketan Parekh, banks and corporate houses and it recommended this nexus be further investigated by Sebi or department of company affairs expeditiously.

Regarding de-mutualisation and corporatisation of stock exchanges, the committee said the government must ensure expeditious implementation of the process to improve management of the exchanges and to enable smooth conduct of business in a fair and non-partisan manner.

PETROL PUMP SCANDAL
SC Strikes Down Govts Decision On Cancellation
Terming the Centres decision to cancel 3760 dealerships in petrol pumps, LPG and kerosene as unjustified and arbitrary, the Supreme Court on Friday struck down the prime ministers directive to cancel and auction all such allotments made after January 2000 in the wake of media expose alleging political favouritism.

It seems that the decision was a result of panic reaction of the government. No facts and figures were gone into. Without application of mind to any of the relevant consideration, a decision was taken to cancel all allotments, a Bench comprising Justice Y K Sabharwal and Justice H K Sema said.