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RBI must act as alert inspector, not just off-site surveyor: RBI union

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Mumbai | Reserve Bank union today requested Governor Urjit Patel to monitor banks through a combination of risk-based supervision, off-site surveillance and on-site inspections of operational systems.

In a letter written to the governor, the union suggested that the RBI should undertake random supervision of bank branches in all parts of the country periodically – possibly 10 percent of bank branches comprising all regions on an annual basis.

“We would request you that RBI monitoring of banks should be a triad – a combination of risk-based supervision, off-site surveillance and random on-site inspections of operational systems, which, we feel, will give the best result instead of RBI totally dispensing with on-site inspections,” the union said in the letter.

“We strongly feel that RBI must remain in the scene, not only as an off-site surveyor but an active and alert inspector,” it added.

The letter said that the RBI could train newly recruited computer-savvy assistants in banks for assisting this monitoring exercise, which will stand RBI in good stead without stretching its human resources too much.

Earlier this week, the RBI governor had appeared before a Parliamentary Panel, where he faced tough questions on bad loans, bank frauds and cash crunch, among others.

Patel assured the members of the committee, headed by senior Congress leader Veerappa Moily, that steps were being taken to strengthen the banking system.

“You (Patel) have stressed that it is not possible for RBI to inspect/audit about 1,20,000 branches of banks spread over the whole country. That is unexceptionable,” the union wrote.

It added that this should not mean that RBI totally withdraws itself from on-site supervision and relies on reports sent by the banks taking those as “sacrosanct”.

“If RBI believes that banking authorities are responsible enough to mind their operations and responsibilities, and RBI can safely rely on them then that will be definitely dereliction of duty,” the RBI union said while pointing out the PNB fraud case.

In the letter, the union thanked the governor for bringing to the fore regulatory impediments that the RBI is suffering from with regard to public sector banks.

It also praised him for putting forward that banking regulation and supervision should be “ownership neutral”.

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Court takes cognisance of Akbar’s defamation case, his statement to be recorded on Oct 31

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MJ Akbar

New Delhi | A Delhi court on Thursday decided to record the statement of former minister M J Akbar’s criminal defamation complaint of being accused of sexual misconduct by journalist Priya Ramani, on October 31.

The court took judicial note of the complaint against Ramani, who has accused Akbar of sexual misconduct around 20 years ago and decided to record the statement in the case.

Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Samar Vishal heard the submissions of senior advocate Geeta Luthra, representing the former minister, that the “defamatory” tweets and similar social media posts of Ramani have caused irreparable loss to his reputation built over 40 years.

“Let the matter be fixed for examination of the complainant (Akbar) and his witnesses (six) for October 31,” the magistrate said.

Luthra mentioned that Ramani’ objectionable tweets have been merrily retweeted by a number of other people and various news items were written on their basis in national and international newspapers and other media platforms.

Luthra said calling Akbar a “predator” in tweets was “defamatory” and also referred to an article written by Ramani herself.

“My (Akbar) reputation lowered in public. People have read tweets and the article (by Ramani). Number of retweets and ‘likes’ crossed thousands which showed the extent of defamation,” the counsel said.

The senior lawyer referred to the sequence of events and said that Akbar has resigned from the post of Minister of State for External Affairs due to these allegations made in the “defamatory” tweets and other posts.

She also referred to the reputation of Akbar as a journalist and sought judicial intervention in the matter by taking cognisance of the complaint.

“My position has been damaged. My reputation has been damaged. I have been elected to Parliament. I am a longstanding journalist and have written various books. This shows I had a reputation, which has been damaged,” the senior counsel said.

As per Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), the court would now record the pre-summoning evidence and statement of Akbar and other witnesses, referred to in the complaint and would issue notice to Ramani to face trial if it is satisfied that there are prima-facie substance in the complaint.

Akbar on Wednesday had tendered his resignation after making it clear that he had filed the case in his “personal” capacity and would fight it out in the court of law.

“Since I have decided to seek justice in a court of law in my personal capacity, I deem it appropriate to step down from office and challenge false accusations levied against me, also in a personal capacity. I have, therefore, tendered my resignation from the office of Minister of State for External Affairs. I am deeply grateful to Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi and to the External Affairs Minister Smt Sushma Swaraj for the opportunity they gave me to serve my country,” Akbar had said in his letter.

Akbar on Monday had filed the criminal defamation complaint against Ramani alleging she “wilfully” and “maliciously” made imputations against him with the ulterior motive of maligning his reputation and political standing.

Expressing her readiness to fight the defamation allegations, Ramani had said, “Rather than engage with the serious allegations that many women have made against him, he (Akbar) seeks to silence them through intimidation and harassment.”

Akbar’s plea had listed alleged defamatory imputations made by Ramani on social media and also referred to his “long and illustrious” career as a journalist while terming the allegations of Ramani as a “figment of her imagination”.

“Whilst it is apparent that the accused has resorted to a series of maliciously serious allegations which she is diabolically and viciously spreading in media, it is also apparent that false narrative against the complainant (Akbar) is being circulated in a motivated manner for the fulfilment of an agenda,” it alleged.

It had termed as “scandalous” the allegations made by Ramani and said the “very tone and tenor” are “ex-facie defamatory” and they have not only damaged his goodwill and reputation in his social circle but also affected Akbar’s reputation in “the community, friends, family and colleagues” and caused “irreparable loss” and “tremendous distress”.

It had claimed that the woman journalist, while putting forward the allegations relating to incidents which allegedly occurred 20 years ago, “intentionally put forward malicious, fabricated, and salacious imputations to harm the reputation of the complainant”.

“The conduct of the accused person, of not taking any action before any authority, qua the alleged incident against the complainant also clearly belies the sanctity of the article and allegations made by the accused person, which evidently goes on to prove that the said defamatory articles are only a figment of her imagination,” it said.

Section 500 of the IPC provides for the sentence for the offence of defamation and an accused may be awarded two-year jail term or fine or both in the event of conviction.

Akbar’s name had cropped up in the social media campaign #Metoo against alleged sexual harassment when he was in Nigeria.

Hours after returning home, Akbar had termed the allegations levelled against him by several women as “false, fabricated and deeply distressing” and said he was taking appropriate legal action against them.

The women who accused Akbar of sexual harassment, included Ghazala Wahab, Shuma Raha, Anju Bharti and Shutapa Paul.

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Centre asks Kerala government to ensure peace in view of Sabarimala protests

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Kerala

New Delhi | The Centre has asked the Kerala government to ensure peace across the state following protests against the Supreme Court order allowing women of all age groups to enter Sabarimala temple, officials said.

In an advisory, the Home Ministry said the maintenance of law and order, including providing security to women wishing to visit the temple, was the responsibility of the state government.

The Kerala government must ensure law and order and full compliance of the Supreme Court order allowing women of the menstrual age group to visit Sabarimala Temple of Lord Ayyappa, a Home Ministry official said.

The state government has been impressed upon the fact that it would be in direct contempt of the Supreme Court order if female devotees of any age are stopped from entering the temple, he said, quoting the advisory sent on October 15.

Another official said the Kerala government, in its communication, has assured the Centre that the apex court order would be implemented and the law and order situation at the pilgrimage site was under control.

Yesterday, the iron gates of Sabarimala temple were opened for the first time since the Supreme Court allowed women of menstrual age to enter the shrine but none from the “banned” age group could make it to its hallowed precincts amid a welter of protests and violent clashes.

Women journalists were heckled, their vehicles smashed and young female Ayyappa devotees turned back as hordes of Hindu right activists besieged the road leading to the hill-top temple, abode to Lord Ayyappa, its eternally celibate deity.

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Rajasthan government considers banning social messaging apps around examination centres to prevent cheating

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exam

Jaipur: The Rajasthan government is considering a ban on social messaging apps like WhatsApp around exam centres to prevent cheating, instead of the current practice of disabling the mobile internet services entirely. “We have suggested this to police department officials in a meeting and they are contemplating it. They will take a call on that and will reach out to mobile internet service providers for the specific configuration,” said Principal Secretary, IT and Communication Department, Akhil Arora on Thursday. “We will also provide them assistance if required,” he added.

Following the reports of cheating by candidates through hi-tech methods, the authorities shut down mobile internet services during competitive exams. Depending upon the nature of the exam, sometimes the entire state suffers a shutdown. But many officials believe this causes unnecessary inconvenience to others as well. They feel there is no need for a complete mobile internet ban as restricting messaging apps was enough to check to cheat. Arora said it was mostly applications like WhatsApp through which candidates indulged in cheating during exams. “Complete ban on mobile internet users to create a lot of inconvenience to people who use mobile internet for various services of e-governance and services of Uber, Ola and others. A ban on selective applications will be hassle-free to the common man,” he said. Arora said the arrangement was “very much feasible” and the restriction will be based on the locality of the examination centres. “In our e-governance intranet, we do not allow every user to use social media in offices. We can easily configure prohibition of applications which need not be allowed and restrict undesirable sites rather than putting an overall ban,” he said.

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