News in Numbers, Feb 07, 2017: A season of crackdowns

Rs 14,779 crore

What is it? The principal balance the Supreme Court wants to expedite recovering from the  Sahara Group for its investors.

Why is it important? Striking down Sahara’s appeal for time till 2019, the apex court ordered attaching its star property in Pune, the Aamby Valley, as part of the recovery process. Around Rs 600 crore of its Rs-25,780-crore principal owed was paid on Monday.  SC’s order was the latest entry in a season of crackdowns on erring business houses/moguls. The property will be under the court’s custody.

Tell me more: The court has asked for a list of other Sahara properties free from litigation for recovery of its dues to investors in two of Sahara’s companies. The due totals Rs 37,000 crore, as calculated by Sebi, including interest, of which around Rs 11,000 crore has been paid so far.

97

What is it? Number of companies, 96% of them tech giants, that filed a court motion challenging US President Donald Trump’s order on immigration.

Why is it important? Companies such as Microsoft, Apple, Google, Facebook, Intel, Netflix and Twitter, and three consumer-goods companies including fashion brand Levi Strauss, have taken a step further than just denouncing the executive order by taking legal recourse. They join federal judges who have legally rebuffed Trump’s move to restrict immigration of certain nationalities, with one even restraining it nationwide. The companies’ motion was filed in the very appeals court which rejected the government’s emergency request to resume the travel ban.

Tell me more: The motion filed in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals said the travel ban “violates the immigration laws and the Constitution”.

Rs 2.5 lakh

What is it? The upper limit of deposits for which the Income Tax department will ask no questions, reiterated by the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) chairman Sushil Chandra.

Why is it important? Amidst growing concern about the expanding reach of the tax officer with all the cash-scrutiny, the senior official’s statement should bring relief. The limit means the IT department will for now refrain from running analytics on deposits below it.

Tell me more: It would study larger single deposits or multiple deposits against a single PAN card that don’t match IT returns.

80%

What is it? Percentage of Tata Sons’ shareholder votes that were in favour of removing former chairman Cyrus Mistry from Tata Sons’ board of directors

Why is it important? The move is a part of the ongoing fight between Tatas and Mistry that started with the removal of Mistry from the chairmanship of Tata Sons in October, followed by similar actions in various Tata companies, including Tata Motors and Tata Consultancy Services. The latest was expected. Tata Trusts controls 66% of Tata Sons, and a simple majority is enough to oust a director. Shapoorji Pallonji family, to which Cyrus Mistry belongs, and which owns 18.4% in Tata Sons, now has no representation in the board for the first time in over ten years.

Tell me more: Cyrus Mistry did not attend the board meeting. Ratan Tata’s half brother Noel Tata, whose sister is married to Mistry, voted in favour of Mistry’s removal from the board.

9

What is it? The number of chief justices recommended by Supreme Court collegium for various high courts

Why is it important? If the government approves, this would likely be the highest number of appointments of chief justices in one go. Many high courts in the country are being served by interim chief justices. More importantly, it’s an indicator that the tension between the government and the judiciary over appointment of judges could be easing. At its height, Supreme Court had struck down National Judicial Appointments Commission in October 2015 and revived the collegium system in which a panel of judges make the judicial appointments.

Tell me more: Besides High Courts, the Supreme Court also faces vacancies as a result of the tug of war. The apex court has been functioning with 23 judges since early this year, falling short of the sanctioned strength of 31.

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The case of missing judges in world’s biggest democratic country

This piece originally appeared on Livemint.com

 

In an emotive and blunt speech on Sunday, Chief Justice of India T.S. Thakur accused the current government of dragging its feet in filling judicial vacancies. He also made a larger point: to service the legal needs of its people well, India needs 50 judges per million population. Not only is that future ideal distant, the current deficit in judges is itself alarming.

 

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News in numbers, Apr 25, 2016: Mixed signs of economic recovery, judge-population ratio…

13.8%

What is it? The year-on-year net profit growth of 60 companies in the January-March 2016.

Why is it important? This is the lowest in four quarters, though it is better than the 10.6% growth a year ago. The analysis of companies that have declared their fourth quarter results so far indicates mixed signs of economic recovery. The net profit growth numbers disappointed observers, but the combined revenue growth at 0.6% the highest in seven quarters provided some cheer.

Tell me more: A better picture would emerge after key manufacturing and infrastructure companies declare their results. This sample of companies analysed includes some of the biggest companies in India – Reliance Industries, Infosys, HDFC Bank, Wipro – which account for a majority of the combined net profit and revenues in the three months to March 2016.

15

What is it? The number of judges for every 10 lakh population in India.

Why is it important? Lack of judges is one of the main factors for India’s slow justice system. It has serious economic costs too. A survey by Bengaluru-based NGO Daksh estimated that the loss of wages and business for litigants attending lower court hearings, in addition to legal fees and other costs works out to be over Rs 80,000 crore a year, 0.7% of India’s GDP in 2015-16.

Tell me more: The Supreme Court has six vacancies while as of February 29, the High Courts had 464 vacancies of judges. This has resulted in high pendency of cases – as of February 19, 59,468 cases were pending before the apex court; around 45 lakh cases pending before all 24 high courts and 2.75 crore cases before the trial courts as reported in early January.

750

What is it? The number of complaints against private universities received by the Indian government and University Grants Commission (UGC) in the last three years.

Why is it important? The government and UGC have stepped up their scrutiny of private universities, which are loosely regulated and enjoy a great amount of freedom in their operations. The challenge for India is to improve the quality of higher education even as it aims to increase gross enrolment ratio to 30% by 2020 from 23.6% in 2014-15.

Tell me more: The complaints – including on fake degrees and irregularities in finance – have seen a threefold increase in the last couple of years.

~ $1 billion

What is it? The value of offshore loans, which SSG Capital Management, a Hong Kong-based distressed-asset investor, is reportedly interested in buying from Standard Chartered’s India portfolio. It’s the only firm that has shown interest so far.

Why is it important? Indicates tepid response to the sale of distressed assets in India as banks scramble to clean their balance sheets before the March 2017 deadline set by the central bank.

Tell me more: Standard Chartered’s sale of India loans was reported about a fortnight ago. The Hong Kong-based firm is also seeking a 30% discount on the value of the assets.

2

What is it? The number of people killed in a gun battle between two rival groups at Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) during the weekend.

Why is it important? AMU is ranked among the top 10 universities in India, and it comes on the back of unrest at Jawharlal Nehru University and Hyderabad University. The AMU incident was said to be due to groupism, which also resulted in the destruction of 28,000 students records in fire.

Tell me more: Reports say that trouble began when a hostel student was assaulted and an attempt was made to set his room afire. Following the student’s complaint to the proctor against this, a rival gang arrived with weapons and both the groups resorted to firing at each other.

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