Morning Brief: SC To Hear Pleas Of Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi In Tax Case; Tata Begins Due Diligence To Buy Jet Airways: Report; And More

Morning Brief: SC To Hear Pleas Of Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi In Tax Case; Tata Begins Due Diligence To Buy Jet Airways: Report; And More

by Swarajya Staff - Tuesday, November 13, 2018 08:53 AM IST
Morning Brief: SC To Hear Pleas Of Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi In Tax Case; Tata Begins Due Diligence To Buy Jet Airways: Report; And MoreCongress President Rahul Gandhi with UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi. (Mohd Zakir/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

Good morning, dear reader! Here’s your morning news brief for today.

SC To Hear Pleas Of Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi In Tax Case

The Supreme Court (SC) will today hear petitions filed by Congress President Rahul Gandhi and his mother Sonia Gandhi challenging the Delhi High Court’s order refusing to give them relief in a case of re-opening of their tax assessments for 2011-12. A bench of Justices A K Sikri and S Abdul Nazeer will hear the appeals. The High Court had rejected the plea challenging the Income Tax notice seeking tax reassessment related to the National Herald and Young India transactions for the financial year 2011-2012. During the hearing in the case, the income tax department had argued that the shares the Congress President has in Young India would lead him to have an income of Rs 154 crore and not about Rs 68 lakh, as was assessed earlier.

Earlier, a court had rejected an oral plea by lawyers representing Rahul Gandhi to prohibit the media from reporting or publishing the court proceedings. The case is related to what is often referred to as the National Herald Scam, in which the Gandhis are accused of misappropriating assets of the Associated Journals Limited while transferring their shares to Young Indian. The Gandhis, along with Congress leader Oscar Fernandes, are out on bail in the case.

(Also Read: The National Herald Story, Explained)

Tata Begins Due Diligence To Buy Jet Airways: Report

India’s largest conglomerate, the Tata Group, is “conducting due diligence” to buy a controlling stake in Jet Airways, Mint has reported. Chief Financial Officer of Tata Sons, Saurabh Agarwal, is leading the discussions with Naresh Goyal, the founder of the cash-strapped airline who owns a controlling stake of 51 per cent. A source quoted by the daily said that Goyal has “agreed to cede control, subject to fulfilment of certain conditions”. According to the source, these conditions include “how much premium the Tata Group is willing to pay for Goyal to give up control and whether he will continue in some capacity if the talks are successful”.

The Tata Group, which started the country’s first commercial airline in 1932, already has two aviation joint ventures, one with Singapore Airlines operating Vistara and the other with budget airline Air Asia. The combined market share of airlines owned by the Tata Group will increase about threefold to 24 per cent from 8.2 per cent as of end-September if it acquires Jet Airways.

(Also Read: Jet In 2018 Is No Better Than Kingfisher In 2011; Writing On The Wall For Naresh Goyal Is Clear)

RBI Governor Meets PM Modi Amid Stand-Off, Says Report

Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor Urjit Patel reportedly met Prime Minister Narendra Modi last week amid an ongoing stand-off with the Finance Ministry, reports say. The meeting, accordig to reports, was aimed at finding a solution to the contentious issues that have been a flashpoint between the central bank and the government. The finance ministry and the RBI have been arguing over the issue of the appropriate size of reserves that the bank must maintain.

The Finance Ministry’s request to the RBI for the transfer of a surplus of Rs 3.6 lakh crore to the government is the reason behind its ongoing stand-off, The Indian Express had reported. The RBI is against the transfer of this amount, which forms a third of its total reserves of Rs 9.59 lakh crore. The ministry believes that the framework governing the transfer of surplus from the RBI to the government is based on a very “conservative” assessment of risk by the central bank.

(Also Read: Behind The Government-RBI Square-Off Lies A Strained Past)

Nepal’s Communist Party Regime Names Envoy To India After Nine Months

The Communist Party government in Nepal has named a former minister, Nilambar Acharya, as the country’s envoy to India, Times of India has reported. According to the daily, the decision comes after nearly nine months of delay. Acharya, a former ambassador of Nepal to Sri Lanka, currently manages the Nepal side of the Eminent Persons Group on Nepal-India relations. The post has been vacant since October 2017, when Nepal’s ambassador quit to contest elections. In July, reports said former election commissioner N K Upreti was likely to be the next ambassador. However, in August, Nepalese media reports noted that the country’s Prime Minister, K P Oli, had decided against appointing him.

Oli, widely regarded as pro-China, had ceased power on an anti-India plank. In the last few months, Oli’s preference for China has become clearer. Just weeks ago, he gave the Budi Gandaki hydropower project, which is Nepal’s largest and involves an investment of $2.5 billion, to China. He has been criticised for the lack of transparency. Critics said that the project should have been open for international bidding instead of being "gifted” to a Chinese company.

Prime Minister Modi To Meet US Vice-President Tomorrow

Prime Minister Modi will meet US Vice-President Mike Pence in Singapore on the sidelines of the East Asia summit. The meeting will take place on 14 November and comes soon after the Trump administration’s decision to grant India a waiver not only for import of oil from Iran but also for the continuation of the Chabahar port development project in the eastern part of the country.

According to the report, India and the US will also discuss a possible visit by Pence to New Delhi. India, Japan, the US and Australia will hold a meeting of the Quadrilateral grouping to discuss cooperation in the Indo-Pacific.

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