New Delhi: A three-judge bench of the Supreme Court on Monday allowed a petition filed by former chief minister of Tamil Nadu J. Jayalalithaa that opposed the destruction of the Ram Sethu to be heard along with other proceedings in the same issue.
Late reaction: Former Tamil Nadu chief minister J.Jayalalithaa.
The bench led by Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan, however, expressed displeasure over the petition that was filed in September last year while questioning the delay in filing of the petition and multiplicity of proceedings in the same matter.
The Chief Justice remarked that the Jayalalithaa has approached the court “three years after the (Ram Sethu) project was approved in 2005.”
“Nobody had ever seen the structure. Nobody had ever thought of declaring it as a national monument. This (petition) coming from her (Jayalalithaa) is surprising,” the Chief Justice said.
The court’s remarks were in response to one of the prayers in Jayalalithaa’s petition that the Ram Sethu or Adam’s Bridge, a natural coral barrier situated south-east of Rameshwaram connecting Talaimanar coast of Sri Lanka, be declared a national monument and preserved in the interest of national security. “Several matters are pending in this court on it (Ram Sethu),” the Bench, also comprising justices Tarun Chatterjee and R.V. Raveendran, said, adding for declaring Ram Sethu as a national monument, the former chief minister should approach the appropriate authority.
Currently, a petition opposing the Ram Sethu project filed by the Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy and other petitions that raise questions relating to environmental issues have been clubbed together and are pending before the court.
During the last hearing on 16 January, the Supreme Court directed the Centre to file an affidavit with details of the Centre’s project that involves dredging of the Ram Sethu and a report by the Archaeological Study of India on the controversial structure.
‘PTI’ contributed to this story.
BJP demands increase in income tax exemption limit
New Delhi: Just a month ahead of the Union Budget, the principal Opposition, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), on Monday demanded an increase in the income tax standard exemption limit to Rs1.5 lakh.
Urging the government: BJP president Rajnath Singh.
Addressing the BJP’s national council in the Capital, party president Rajnath Singh also urged the Centre to bring down the interest rates for housing and education loans to 2004 levels, when the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) was voted out of power, and demanded the setting up of a real estate regulatory authority.
In a resolution adopted on “crisis in agriculture sector”, the party demanded the Centre should offer a one-time waiver of farm loans up to Rs50,000, including both the principal amount and interest, create an agri-risk fund and bring down interest rates on farm loans to 4%.
The party also suggested that the government should devise a scheme to transfer farm loans given at exorbitant rates of interest by private lenders to public finance institutions.
On the first day of the two-day meet, the BJP also adopted a resolution to reserve one-third of the party’s seats for women.
Sushma Swaraj, a Rajya Sabha member of the BJP, said the one-third rule would apply to all party bodies, including the 81-member national executive, except the powerful parliamentary board.
Chief ministers of BJP-ruled states and senior BJP leaders of NDA-ruled states also spoke on the occasion, listing their achievements and hitting out at the Centre, for what they termed, discrimination against them.
Russia lifts ban on Indian tea, coffee
Kochi: Russia has lifted the ban on import of tea and coffee from India with immediate effect.
Russia imposed the ban last week on all crop imports after finding a beetle pest in a consignment of sesame from India.
Basudev Banerjee, chairman of the government trade promotion body Tea Board, said export of tea and coffee to Russia would continue with certain conditions which India has already been meeting.
Max India Q3 profit up 83% to Rs422 crore
New Delhi: Insurance and health-care company, Max India Ltd, has posted cash profit of Rs422 crore, a rise of 83% for the quarter ended 31 December due to the launch of new insurance products.
Consolidated revenues grew by 103% to Rs1,226 crore. The profit and revenues in the year-ago quarter were Rs230 crore and Rs604 crore, respectively. Max joint managing director B. Anantharaman attributed the increase in premiums to the launch of child benefit products.
He indicated that the firm will open 58 new sales offices and said that the introduction of a series of health insurance products in the coming quarter would continue to drive revenues.
Max Healthcare, subsidiary of Max India that operates as a chain of corporate hospitals, will also be scaling up operations by setting up four new hospitals by 2011.
ICICI Venture to invest Rs95 cr in VHPL
Bangalore: Private equity firm ICICI Venture will invest Rs94.5 crore in Mysore-based Vikram Hospital Pvt. Ltd (VHPL) for an undisclosed stake through its health-care investment arm IVEN Medicare India Pvt. Ltd. ICICI Venture said the stake was “substantial” but did not provide further details.
The investment will enable VHPL to expand its presence in Karnataka. The group currently has a flagship super specialty tertiary care hospital in Mysore. It is setting up five dedicated speciality hospitals in the city covering trauma, nephrology, oncology, dentistry and cosmetology, among others.
IVEN Medicare will contribute to the growth and expansion of the group by offering dedicated support in areas such as medical informatics, commercial technology, and marketing and brand building, Aluri Srinivasa Rao, director investments, ICICI Venture, said.
PepsiCo to launch fruit drink Tropicana Twister
New Delhi: After a successful test run in the south, PepsiCo India Holdings Pvt. Ltd on Monday announced the nationwide launch of its international fruit drink Tropicana Twister.
PepsiCo’s juice portfolio include Tropicana and Slice, which account for 44% of the total Rs1,200 crore branded fruit juice and fruit drink market. With the launch of Twister, the company aims to become the leader in this segment. It expects more than 50% of its sale volumes to come from this segment in the coming year.
“Twister became the leading fruit drink in the south in the three months that we test marketed it,” said Sanjeev Chadha, chief executive, PepsiCo India. “We are confident it will prove to be as successful in the rest of the country as well,” he said.
PepsiCo also said it plans to aggressively expand its carbonated drink portfolio this year. “Pepsi aims to triple revenues in the next five years time and we plan to do so by meeting different beverage needs,” said Chadha. “This year one can expect many product launches in the carbonated drink segment as well, which will be partly from our global portfolio and partly innovations from India,” he added.
INX News confirms exit of Vir Sanghvi
New Delhi: The news broadcasting division of INX Media Pvt. Ltd, INX News Pvt. Ltd, said in a statement late on Monday that the firm and its chief executive officer, journalist Vir Sanghvi, have agreed to “terminate their professional working relationship with effect from 29 January 2008”.
In the statement, INX News chairperson Indrani Mukerjea said: “...we will announce a new editorial head shortly.” The statement quoted Sanghvi as saying: “I hope that we can now put the rumours, leaks and plants of the last fortnight behind us as we have separated in an atmosphere of goodwill and amicability.”
Mint first reported on 24 January that the company and Sanghvi had decided to part ways.
Vir Sanghvi is advisory editorial director for the Hindustan Times and a columnist for Lounge, the Saturday magazine of Mint. Both Mint and the Hindustan Times are published by HT Media Ltd.