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Ankur Mutreja
Advocate&Writer(Author). PrivacyExponent. Travel&NatureLover. #AntiNationalHumanist (ModiBhakts: F-off!)
Advocate&Writer(Author). PrivacyExponent. Travel&NatureLover. #AntiNationalHumanist (ModiBhakts: F-off!)
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(Please read the comments dt. 27.06.2017 at the bottom.)

 

Published on 06.06.2017

Over the years, I have grown cynical esp. when it comes to the BJP. They pursue completely frivolous matters with such diligence that the matters start looking serious. The current raid on NDTV's promoters is also the same. Yes, indeed it is the result of Nidhi Razdan & Sambit Patra spat.

When I first woke up in the morning yesterday -- which in my case gets extended to noon -- and opened a few news websites, hashtag NDTV struck on the face. The NDTV website called the raid on NDTV's promoters as witch-hunt. I immediately tweeted it with the hashtag #FreeSpeech mentioning the Nidhi Razdan & Sambit Patra spat. Of course, it was very cynical. I had not even read the news story by then. But how correct I was.

Later during the day, I wrote a post, which I withdrew because it was based on misreading of facts. Now I find Quint has uploaded the complaint filed in the case, on which the action has been taken on 02.06.2017. I repeat 02.06.2017; i.e., a day after the Nidhi Razdan & Sambit Patra spat. Incredible but true! Below is the screen shot. This means the action on the complaint filed by the complainant Sanjay Dutt, the Director of Quantum Securities, was taken just a day after the Nidhi Razdan & Sambit Patra spat.



I have no doubt CBI is witch hunting, and this I say very responsibly after reading the FIR. The main grievance of the complainant is actually against ICICI. His prayers also specifically name ICICI. Basically, what he is saying is that ICICI, by settling the loan with NDTV with Rs 48 cr loss, has actually caused loss to itself, which is a fraudulent conduct. CBI, on the basis of an earlier Supreme Court judgment in Global Trust Bank case, is treating it as an offence under the Prevention of Corruption Act because the Supreme Court in the earlier judgment has held that senior executives of private banks are deemed public servants; so, the PC Act becomes applicable to them. Ironically, the CBI has not yet identified the ICICI officials but has raided the NDTV promoters, who, if at all, had a marginal role to play.

Let me explain what happened. It is well-known that NDTV faced serious financial crunch around 2008 when it took loans from various entities. First it took loan from India Bulls, for repaying which it took loan from ICICI bank pledging all shareholdings of the NDTV promoters to ICICI, which comes to around 61%. This, as per the complaint, is against the banking regulations, which say a bank should not control more than 30% share in an entity it lends, whether by way of pledged collateral or direct control. Thus ICICI was not doing any favours to NDTV. It was in fact taking over control of NDTV. So, this part of the complaint is also basically against ICICI only, but the complainant also claims that NDTV didn't disclose the fact of pledging to SEBI, MIB, MHA, etc, which he says was not done to ensure ICICI doesn't face any problem. So, basically, NDTV, according to the complainant, is a co-conspirator, who allowed ICICI to take ownership control over itself illegally.

The saga doesn't end here. According to the complainant, the very next year, NDTV did pay 99% of the loan amount to ICICI thus taking ICICI out, but the repayment was actually funded by Reliance by a zero coupon convertible loan through a series of shell companies. This tantamount to Money Laundering, and it seems ED is filing separate cases to investigate it. But beware, going by today's precedent, the wrath will fall once again on NDTV promoters only, not on Reliance.

So, the conclusion is that Reliance has taken ownership control of NDTV, with which I also agree. But does this also tantamount to editorial control?  This is where lies the crux of the matter. If one would listen to Nidhi Razdan & Sambit Patra spat, one would find that Nidhi Razdan claimed LRC to be her show and asked Sambit Patra to leave. At which, Sambit Patra retorted challenging Nidhi Razdan's claim over LRC. Basically, what he impliedly meant was that NDTV is controlled by Reliance, and LRC was hardly her show. He was transferring not only ownership but also editorial control to Reliance and by extension to himself. Of course, he failed. But, the way the BJP government is, they are now playing these dirty tricks.

(In past, I have condemned Nidhi Razdan for over-reaching herself and have also written some pretty nasty things against her, but this time she didn't over-reach at all. Her conduct was pretty appreciable. And this I am saying after she has blocked me twice on FB.)

If one were to take a bird eye view of the scenario, NDTV promoters are minor players. The major players are Reliance and ICICI, who probably conspired to take control over NDTV and pretty successfully too. They are the real criminals, who are beyond the reach of CBI, but minor players like NDTV promoters are being targeted, of course as a revenge against what Nidhi Razdan did.

I, however, need to clearly state here that the complaint filed by Sanjay Dutt is not frivolous. He has raised very important issue of how corporates and banks are conspiring to guzzle up media. He might have some grudge against NDTV, but his complaint is balanced as I have already stated his main relief is against ICICI. But why CBI has targeted NDTV promoters is for CBI to answer. When you have not even identified co-conspirators; i.e., officials of ICICI bank and Reliance, how have you assumed a conspiracy?

Give it a thought: will Modi ever allow CBI to raid Ambani or ICICI? What a cynical move for such a frivolous cause. The BJP has fallen to its nadir now. You bloody conduct raids through an agency no less than CBI because your unrestrained spokesperson just doesn't know how to behave and you just don't know how to restrain him! This government has made everything too cynical. Thanks goodness I stopped watching news debates. But I wonder how long can you claim ignorance as bliss! At least, I am not feeling happy writing this post!

P.S. I think it is necessary to mention that "nasty things" referred above in relation to Nidhi Razdan were said by me in my blogs only, not in either any direct message to Nidhi Razdan or in any one-to-one communication with any third party -- I have never had any one-to-one communication with Nidhi Razdan. Those blog posts were subsequently withdrawn because I found them in bad taste. However, I am making them public again for the purpose of full disclosure. You can navigate through them via this anchor post: Nidhi Razdan Is the Gajendra Chauhan of TV Anchoring

 

Comment Dt. 11.06.2017

Well...let me state clearly what I made out from the complaint filed by Sanjay Dutt. I think he made an allegation that Reliance in consort with ICICI has illegally acquired NDTV making a loss of Rs 48 cr to ICICI's shareholders at the cost of Roys and NDTV, and therefore Roys and NDTV are part of the conspiracy. I also interpret the loan agreement as a kind of ownership transfer only. Reliance has been given option of converting its loan into shares at par value to the maximum holding of 26%, which is a substantial stake, and also it has been given the power to nominate one director out of the three in the ICICI Board. But, I think, the alleged Rs 48 cr loss to ICICI's shareholders was actually not a gain to Roys and NDTV but to Reliance as it was the one who was controlling the transfer. To me, the interest free personal loan (not the Zero Coupon Convertible Loan to NDTV) extended to Roys was part of the deal as a kind of small compensation for exit in a distress sale. It is possible NDTV might have been given editorial control and also an opportunity to buy back ownership by paying back the Zero Coupon Convertible Loan. I have no information what part, if any, of the loan has been paid back or has been converted into equity, but it doesn't look like they would have been able to pay anything. But what I am surprised at is why Roys instead of cursing Reliance and ICICI are cursing Sanjay Dutt. Irrespective of his motivation, his complaint is genuine. Why should ICICI take a loss unto itself when there was no occasion to do so? Reliance has very cleverly kept out itself by creating a labyrinth of transactions through shell companies, which has, ironically,ended up projecting Roys and NDTV as beneficiaries, who according to me were mere victims, albeit with poor financial and legal acumen. Just a parting note, I think CBI's invocation of PCA Act in the case is erroneous and motivated. The SC judgment has been rendered in 2016, the alleged offences took place in 2009. How is CBI applying the judgement retrospectively in a criminal matter? Nevertheless,  S. 420 may be made out as ICICI did seem to cheat its shareholders. S. 120 B may also be made out but against Reliance more and Roys and NDTV less. However, my question still remains: Why did CBI target Roys and NDTV when bigger fishes, Reliance and ICICI, just can't be caught, which they also know pretty well. CBI: Are you conducting raids in ICICI and Reliance offices anytime soon?

P.S. Please read "ICICI Board" in the line, "so it has been given the power to nominate one director out of the three in the ICICI Board", as RRPR Board. It's a clerical error and is regretted. RRPR Holding is the borrower and, as per the loan agreement, was to acquire 26% of equity share in NDTV from the promoters, i.e. Roys, before drawing down loan amount from the Lender. Further, it is important to mention here that the maturity date of the loan agreement is around July 2019, whereafter only the lender should take over control. Also, it is important to mention that the agreement specifically states that the editorial control shall remain with NDTV. I just can't stop to see this pressure on NDTV as some kind of tactics to obviate them from repaying the loan to the lender, which they can very well do by 2019. OK...I will have to give benefit of doubt to NDTV and read the loan agreement as it is to mean the ownership hasn't got transferred to Reliance till now, and the extension of interest free personal loan to Roys was some favour in kind unrelated to the transfer of ownership -- at the end of the day, I am a Finance MBA turned Lawyer and do understand Financial Engg.; I can't be so cycnical; regrets! This interest free personal loan of Rs 93 cr was extended to Roys by RRPR in 2008 when they received loan from ICICI. But my assertion that the real beneficiary of Rs 48 cr loss to ICICI's shareholders was Reliance remains intact as I am considering ICICI and Reliance as conspirators and am seeing the loan extended by ICICI to RRPR and its repayment through the loan received from Reliance through its shell companies as part of the same transaction micromanaged by Reliance. 

 

Comment Dt. 27.06.2017

Subsequent to the making of the above comments dt. 11.06.2017, on 12.06.2017, I found that Nidhi Razdan was tweeting Sambit Patra yet again. The context was some alleged fake news in Times of Islamabad attributed to NDTV. Sambit Patra quoted the said news in a tweet, "Hmmm ...Agenda!", however without mentioning anybody from NDTV. This tweet was inconsequential and could have easily been ignored by NDTV -- you don't have to answer every baseless allegation against you, that too on Twitter. The fact NDTV not only didn't ignore but also worked overtime right into the zero hour to get a Twitter apology from Times of Islamabad clearly shows Sambit Patra was being shown undue importance. Furthermore, in any case there was no occasion for Nidhi Razdan, who in her spat with Sambit Patra clearly stated that she found it "beneath her" to argue with Sambit Patra, to mention Sambit Patra in her tweet (screenshot below). The only conclusion I can make out of this is that NDTV was either trying to settle this matter with the BJP by showing undue importance to Sambit Patra or the spat itself was a drama for TRPs. I quoted the above tweet of Nidhi Razdan mentioning Sambit Patra and declared that until Nidhi Razdan either publicly apologizes for tweeting Sambit Patra after all that happened in the spat or admits that all that was a drama for TRPs, I shall boycott NDTV (screenshot below). Two weeks have passed since then, but neither is there any apology from Nidhi Razdan nor is there any admission. Therefore, I have blocked both NDTV and Nidhi Razdan on Twitter, unsubscribed NDTV from YouTube, and uninstalled NDTV app from my mobile and tablet in pursuance of the boycott. I urge the readers to do the same as the filthy compromise NDTV was trying to enter into or has already entered into with the BJP is betrayal to all those who supported them. An apology is the minimum. However, if NDTV or Nidhi Razdan would admit it was a drama for TRPs, I will end my boycott because a little more cynicism is fine with me; however, no advice either way to the readers on this.





© 2017 Ankur Mutreja

 

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I wonder y nobody in media debated such an important news. Indian army will suffer hugely in any war with China.
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Since it is the US judiciary, I can say without any fear of contempt that it comprises third degree scoundrels.
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(This article was first published on August 15, 2016, and has been republished today, i.e. 26.06.2017, with slight modifications)

GST stands for Goods and Services Tax. The other three terms in the same realm are Value Added Tax (VAT)/Sales Tax and Service Tax. All these are indirect taxes, which are collected by the business from the end consumers and paid to the government. There are other indirect taxes like Octroi/Local Body Tax (LBT), Excise Duty/CENVAT, Entertainment Tax, Customs Duty, Securities Transaction Tax, Luxury Tax, Stamp Duty, etc. These taxes are levied at different levels. Some taxes like Octroi/LBT are levied by the local governments; some like Sales Tax (interstate trade by the central government), Excise (liquor by the state government), etc, are levied both by the central government and the state government; some like Stamp Duty, VAT, Entertainment Tax, etc, are levied solely by the state government; and some like Service Tax and Customs Duty are levied solely by the central government. These taxes are also levied at different rates depending upon the product; for example, there are four different excise duty rates; i.e., 0%, 4%, 12.36% and 27%.

What GST proposes to do is to merge all these taxes into a single rate structure either as a single GST or as a dual GST- mostly it would be dual GST. I think variety of indirect taxes like Entertainment Tax, Stamp Duty, Luxury Tax, Octroi/LBT, etc, will continue to be levied and won't fall within the GST structure. The Basic Customs Duty would also remain outside the purview of the GST. The only consolidation I see happening is that of VAT/Sales Tax, Cenvat/Excise Duty and Service Tax into a single structure. But I can't understand how a single tax structure with a unified tax rate helps a common man. He would rather like to have differential tax rates for different commodities, so that obnoxious items like cigarettes, junk food, cola, etc, can be taxed heavily. 

The PM says introduction of GST will end "Tax Terrorism" -- what he means by it, he only knows; it seems he has come to terms with the fact that this government is being run by ........  Anyways, ignoring the PM and his unique lexicon, the business is happy because they would spend less on CA fees -- I don't see any other direct benefit accruing to the business. 

But the losses to the consumers especially the poor are many. A lot is being said that GST will avoid double taxation which will benefit the end consumer. Two types of double taxation is being talked about: levy of Service Tax and VAT both on the same transaction, and levy of CENVAT and VAT both on the same finished product. Both the arguments are fallacious. As far as the levy of Service Tax and VAT is concerned, it is covered by the judgment of the SC in BSNL V. UOI, 2006(3)SCC1, wherein it has been held that the same activity can't be regarded as both goods and services, and thus either Service Tax or VAT, not both, would be applicable on the same set of transactions. As far as levy of both CENVAT and VAT is concerned, it happens only in few cases and at the stage of the finished products, which are transferred to the wholesalers. The wholesalers don't get the CENVAT credit for the CENVAT paid by the manufacturer. At all stages before that, the CENVAT credit is available. If the dual GST is introduced, which in all likelihood it would be, the double taxation would still remain, albeit now it will extend to all stages post production; i.e., factory sales, wholesale sales, and retail sales. This basically means that at each stage post production, the central government will start levying an additional tax as Central GST, which was not payable earlier, the total tax payable by the end consumer would obviously be much higher, for he won't get any tax credit for the GST paid before and would be levied GST at much higher rate. And if a single GST is introduced, the rate will be fixed much higher, say even at 20%, which would increase the burden of the end consumer manifold. They say the tax burden will be lower eventually after few years when the product prices will fall, which "after few years" will obviously never happen. Therefore, it was extremely necessary to fix GST rate caps in the Constitution itself. Actually, this government has been preparing the people for higher indirect taxes ever since it took office. In the last two years, the VAT has risen to 14.5% from 12.36%, and service tax has been increased even higher to 15%. Of course, they will increase the GST rate to much higher levels than the existing VAT/Service Tax rates. And this is the indirect benefit that the business has been looking out for. They wanted to shift the burden of taxation from direct taxes to indirect taxes. Direct taxes are levied the most on the rich, especially the corporate, and the least on the poor. Whereas, though the rate of indirect taxes is same for both the rich and the poor, it burdens the poor the most as larger pies of their incomes go into taxes than that in the case of the rich. Therefore, indirect taxes are called regressive taxes. 

The second indirect benefit to the business is that of integrated market of India, and they call it "national integration", as if the Maoists would integrate their taxes into the GST. I am unable to understand how the taxes levied on poor people by the State become the matter of "national integration"? Are you saying the more you suck out of the poor, the lesser they will rebel? If that's your idea of "national integration", you are unnecessarily making so many efforts. Your AADHAAR numbers have already enslaved the people across India. On second thoughts, the ........ are not so dumb as I think them to be. They have already incorporated the benefit of AADHAAR into the GST. Let us guess how.

The section 7 of the AADHAAR Act makes possession of AADHAAR number mandatory for receipt of any benefit or service for which the receipts therefrom form part of the Consolidated Fund of India. All tax receipts go into the Consolidated Fund of India. Tax payment and/or collection can be interpreted as a benefit and/or a service under the Act (in spite of taxation being considered as sovereign function of the government; the judiciary is innovative enough to make exceptions). In effect, any financial transaction which levies a tax would require possession of an AADHAAR number. Eventually, quoting of AADHAAR number would be made mandatory for carrying out any financial transaction whatsoever because it would always involve some collection of tax or the other in each financial transaction. Multiple taxes levied at multiple levels at multiple rates would have obviously made integration of AADHAAR into the tax structure impossible. But now with the GST, it becomes very easy. The PM, the HM, the Revenue Intelligence, the IB, the RAW, the MI, and the select corporates would certainly have access to individual records collected under the GST and AADHAAR. And those who understand data mining can well guess what kind of control these above mentioned entities can exercise over individuals with all this data. 

So, that's the true "national integration" that the government and the corporate are vying for. But this competition is so very easy. The non-elites can't even distinguish between the self-goal and the rival-goal; so, they are hitting self-goals after self-goals. But I wonder what would happen if the people recognized their goals and the goal posts. Will the government then call scoring goals against the government a benefit and block their AADHAAR cards for non-payment of the GST! Or, better still, call it a threat to "national integration"!

Copyright 2016-2017 Ankur Mutreja

Feature Image Credit: CA Gaurav Gupta (https://te.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E0%B0%A6%E0%B0%B8%E0%B1%8D%E0%B0%A4%E0%B1%8D%E0%B0%B0%E0%B0%82:GST.png)

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#MeiraKumar Is just another Hypocrisy! | Shared @ Ankur Mutreja

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Shared with the assumption that the DySP mob-lynched was an IB man. #Kashmir

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It shld hav been Gopal Krishna Gandhi. Congress falters again: Has #RaGa returned? #MeiraKumar
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