Soni Sori, Kodopi acquitted of murder charges #Goodnews #Justice


SUVOJIT BAGCHI, May 1, 2013

Soni Sori, the tribal school teacher accused of acting as a courier between Essar Steel and the outlawed Communist Party of India (Maoist), and Lingaram Kodopi, the activist-journalist trained in Delhi, have been acquitted in one more crucial case by Dantewada court.

The case filed in 2010 by Dantewada police alleged that Ms Sori and Lingaram Kodopi are among several others involved in planning and executing an attack on local Congress leader, Avdesh Singh Gautam, in which two persons were killed.

15 others, including activists of various mainstream political parties, who were booked with Ms Sori were also acquitted. Congress leader Vijay Sodi, CPI leader Lala Ram Kunjam and a Panchayat member of Dantewada, Sannuram Mandawi are among the accused who got acquitted on Wednesday.

Soni Sori has now been acquitted in six out of eight cases filed against her.

A FIR filed in Kuakonda police station in Dantewada court said that on 7 July, 2010 midnight, more than 150 Maoist soldiers attacked local Congress leader and contractor Avdesh Singh Gautam’s house. Mr Gautam’s brother in law, Sanjay Singh and house attendant Dharmendra were killed, while his son and a guard were injured.

17 accused, including Ms Sori and Mr Kodopi, were present at the scene of crime, said Mr Gautam, according to the FIR. On basis of available evidences and witness’ statements several charges were brought against the accused under Indian Penal Code, Arms Act and Explosive Substance Act which includes criminal conspiracy, rioting, arson causing death, and attempt to murder, besides a host of other allegations.

“Due to lack of enough and proper evidence additional sessions Judge Anita Dehariya acquitted Soni Sori, Lingaram Kodopi and others,” said Ms Sori’s lawyer in Dantewada K K Dubey on phone.

In February, this year, Ms. Sori was acquitted in two other cases. One in which, she was accused to have opened fire and used explosives to blow up vehicles of Essar Steel. In another, she was accused of firing on police near Essar Beneficiation Plant in Kirandul. “Witnesses could not confirm her involvement,” Mr. Dubey told The Hindu earlier. Last year, Ms. Sori was acquitted in two more cases.

Two more cases against Ms Sori are still in court. One of the allegations, pending in Bacheli court, accused Ms Sori of torching several vehicles. In the other case – the most crucial one – pending in Dantewada court, it is alleged that Ms Sori and Mr Kodopi were planning to hand over “protection money” from Essar Steel to the Maoists. D.V.C.S. Verma, the general manager at an Essar steel plant, and B.K. Lala, one of Essar’s contractors, were arrested in the same case, allegedly for disbursing money. According to police, Mr. Kodopi and Ms. Sori were carrying the money to the rebels. While Ms Sori and Mr Kodopi are languishing in jail, like thousands of tribal under trials (UTs) of south Chhattisgarh, two of their co-accused, Mr Verma and Mr Lala, got bail soon within months after the arrest.

90 per cent cases against tribals are concocted

Ashok Jain, a senior lawyer of Dantewada, representing some of the accused, who got acquitted with Ms Sori, said Wednesday’s judgement proves how tribals are detained under “false charges.”

“These tribals are detained under completely concocted charges, at least most of them. Their families get ruined as they spend several years as undertrials. Whenever the cases are followed well, like the case of Soni Sori, the accused gets acquitted,” Mr Jain said.

A battery of lawyers representing the high profile case of Ms Sori and other accused feel, while the case of Soni Sori or Dr Binayak Sen got enough “attention from all quarters,” cases of thousands of undertrial tribals are getting “absolutely no attention from media or civil society.”

“Most of these cases are so flimsy that higher courts may not even admit those or the accused will get bail within hours of admission. But lack of financial and people’s support, keep these tribals behind bars for years,” said one of the lawyers. “How can a poor tribal be arrested for just being a resident of an area controlled by the Maoists or sharing a lunch with the rebels, possibly under duress,” said another lawyer.

Ms Sori’s lawyers, however, sounded optimistic and said they have moved a bail petition in Chhattisgarh High Court. “I hope, Ms Sori and others will get bail soon after this acquittal in a crucial case,” said Mr Dubey.

Gujarat HC notices to Tata Motors, Essar, L&T, GIFT city over land allotment


English: Wordmark of Essar. Trademarked by Essar.

 

English: Wordmark of Tata Motors

English: Wordmark of Tata Motors (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

S Reporter  |  Mumbai/ Ahmedabad  April 26, 2013 Last Updated at 20:30 IST

Alleges that the companies received favours from state govt; asks them to file replies on affidavit

 

Gujarat High Court on Friday issued notices to Tata Motors Ltd, Essar Steel Ltd, Larsen & Tubro (L&T) and Gujarat International Finance Tech (GIFT) City Company Limited while hearing separate public interest litigations (PILs) alleging that the companies received favours from state government.

A division bench of Chief Justice Bhaskar Bhattacharya and Justice J B Pardiwala while issuing notices have asked them to file replies on affidavit and have scheduled further hearing in June after the court vacation.

The PIL against Tata Motor Ltd (TML) alleges state government had violated policy by giving tax and financial reliefs against the VAT payable by the company. It has further claimed that government had wrongly disbursed over Rs 300 crore loan at 0.1 per cent payable after 20 years of TML’s Nano car plant operations. It said that state government’s move “is a deliberate action against the interest of public at large which is also beyond the purview of state government and also dehors the law.”

PIL has demanded cancellation of the loan given by state government to TML. It has further alleged that the company was “misusing and abusing the condition of the tax relief granted” to get soft loans from the state government. “Total sales of the NANO car are shown to have been made to a wholly owned subsidiary company of TML in state of Gujarat and later on cars are indirectly sold all over the country and other states of India by that wholly owned subsidiary company,” the PIL said, adding that the company manipulated sales figures to get more loan from government.

Meanwhile other PILs against L&T, Essar Steel Ltd and Gift City have claimed that the land allotment to the entities was done without following proper procedures, resulting in private companies getting undue benefits from the state government.

They have further claimed that government land was allotted to the companies at throw away prices without competitive bidding process, causing a loss crores of rupees to the state exchequer. The PILs have cited the latest report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India where these issues have been raised.

 

 

 

 

SC asks cos including Vedanta, Adani, Tata and Essar Steel to pay 50% entry fee tax demand by Odisha


Samanwaya Rautray, ET Bureau Apr 10, 2013,

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked a host of companies including VedantaAdani and Tata Steel and Essar Steel, to pay up 50% of the tax demanded by the state of Odisha by way of entry tax for now.

A bench, comprising Justices HL Dattu and JS Khehar, directed all the companies to pay 50% of the tax and interest amounts demanded/assessed by the state. But the penalty amount would be excluded from the amount, the court said.

Senior counsel Harish Salve argued the case for these companies. He was assisted by Tarun Gulati of Economic Laws Practice. Salve urged the court to restrict the deposit to 33% for now, but the court refused to do so, instead asking them to pay 50% of any demands made by the state.

Salve also urged that the penalty may be directed to be deposited as the case involves a constitutional challenge and that the assessees had already succeeded in the High Court in Reliance’s case.

The Bench agreed with Salve’s suggestion that the penalty amount should be excluded from the total deposits to be made by the companies.

But the bench noted the state was financially poor and that these companies were constrained to bring such goods from outside the state.

Odisha counsel Rakesh Dwivedi demanded that these companies deposit the whole of the tax liability which had arisen prior to filing of the petitions before the Orissa High Court. But Salve objected to this suggestion.

These taxes have been imposed on goods imported by them for their plants and services in Orissa between 2008 and 2012.

Odisha’s Entry Act, which allows levy of entry tax on imported goods, allows the state to levy a tax, not exceeding 12% of the purchase value, on entry of goods for consumption, use or sale in the state. The government levies different rates for different goods. Most states have similar Acts.

Petitions challenging them on the grounds of constitutional validity are now pending before the Supreme Court. Nineteen other companies including ACC and Hindalco Industries and Vedanta, have moved the top court against the Act. They claim that the power to impose a cross state levy only lies with the centre and states have no power to impose them.

 

International Women’s Day- Light a candle for Soni Sori #Vaw #1billionrising


“Huge cheers to friends at Barduari Studios for creating these wonderful online action in which several, who for some reason, could not join offline actions were still able to express their solidarity and resolve to right the wrong.”

sonisori

 

Soni Sori acquitted in 4th case; lawyers to move HC for bail #Vaw


 Indian State honours monster - Justice for  #SoniSori #Vaw

Feb 15, 2013, 03.47AM IST TNN

RAIPUR: It feels like a ray of light in a darkened past and the pessimistic-looking future of Soni Sori, the 36-year-old frail adivasi teacher in Chhattisgarh, after her brutal custodial torture that shows the rotten side of our state machinery. She has been acquitted in a case filed against her and 19 others of opening fire and using explosives to blast the vehicles of Essar Steel. Her lawyers now plan to move the high court for her bail in other cases pending against her.

“With this acquittal, Sori has been discharged from four out of eight cases registered against her by the Dantewada police in connection with almost all the Naxal-related incidents that took place in the region between July 7, 2010 and September 2011,” her laywer K K Dubey told TOI on phone from Dantewada. “The case of the prosecution collapsed like a pack of cards,” Dubey added.

Dantewada additional sessions judge Anita Dehariya on February 12 acquitted Sori as none of the witnesses could come forward with any statement to link her with a case that was registered against her back in 2010. Sori’s story is a painful document revealing the different shades of the bleak reality of adivasis caught in the crossfire between the Indian state and the Chhattigarh police on one side and the Naxals on the other.

Sori was arrested on October 4, 2011 in New Delhi, when she was on the run, on unproven allegations of being a Maoist sympathizer and acting as a conduit to extort Rs 1.5 million for the banned CPI (Maoist) from the Essar group. Sori was handed over to the Chhattigarh police despite her insistence that she was being framed by them. An independent medical examination of Sori at NRS Medical College, Kolkata, at the behest of the Supreme Court found stones lodged in her vagina and rectum. TOI has a copy of the medical report of the Kolkata hospital that confirms her claims.

Sori has said that she was pulled out of her cell at the Dantewada police station on the intervening night of October 8 and 9, 2011 and then taken to SP Ankit Garg’s room, where on his orders, three men stripped her, gave her electric shocks and inserted stones into her private parts. She lost consciousness. A few months later, SP Ankit Garg was awarded the Police Medal for Gallantry by the government for his role in a counter-insurgency operation in 2010.

The Essar case and another case on Maoist attack on Congress leader Avdesh Singh Gautam are the two crucial cases still under trial. In the Essar case of payment of protection money to the banned CPI (Maoists), Essar General Manager D V C S Verma and contractor B K Lala are out on bail while Sori and her activist nephew Linga Kodopi are still in judicial custody.

 

 

INDIA -How power, metal sectors are in quagmire of indebtedness


Banking District

Banking District (Photo credit: bsterling)

 

Most loans under stress are largely in the two sectors

Shishir Asthana / Mumbai Aug 06, 2012,  BS

Moneycontrol report says Essar Steel is under stress for servicing its Rs 23,000-crore loan from banks. The company is 30 days behind schedule to make its interest payment. The report says that around 18-20 banks have provided the amount to the company, with one state-owned bank having an exposure of Rs 9,000 crore.

With over Rs 2 lakh crore of loans up for restructuring, market has been either focusing on high debts of individual companies or the entire sector, which is causing a lot of stress on banks’ financials. However, a recent report by Credit Suisse points out to the rising risk in the banking circle on account of concentration of loans to business houses.

In a report titled House of Debt, Credit Suisse points out that over the past five years while bank loan growth has been 20%, loans to 10 business groups have increased by five times. Their loan currently is equivalent to 13% of bank loans and more importantly it is 98% of banking system’s collective net worth. In terms of concentration risk, Indian banks are more risky than their Asian and BRIC counterparts. Concentration of top 10 groups to bank loans in China is 1% as compared to 13% in India.

The table shows the exposure of banks to various corporate groups. While average group debt to operating profit (EBITDA – earnings before interest tax depreciation and amortization) is 7.6 times, four of the 10 groups have an interest coverage ratio of less than one. In other words four of these groups are barely making enough profit to meet their interest payment.

Worst is that loans which are under stress are in largely the same sector (power and metals) across groups and in some cases to various companies within the same group.

Recognising their high leverage and poor profitability, these groups are looking at bringing to at asset sales under pressure from their lenders. Unfortunately the assets are all from the same sectors (cement plants/infrastructure/power) which are finding fewer buyers. In power sector each of these groups has 2,000-4,500 MW of capacities being commissioned over the next three years. These account for 70% of power plant to be commissioned by the private players and all of them face the same issues of gas/coal supplies and power purchase agreements (PPA) signed at much lower tariffs.

While market has factored in most of the issues of individual company and sectoral debt issues, inter-dependence of companies within the group, pledging of group company shares and guarantees of group companies make the issue trickier.

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