10 Jan 2010

Recent updates from legal circles ...

In a recent order, indicating change of trend, the Supreme Court has directed the wife who sought transfer of case from one court to another to pay her unemployed husband towards cost for transportation. The Court order states "The petitioner is seeking transfer of the case from Chennai to Bangalore. Her contention is that it is inconvenient for her to look after the case at Chennai because she is working in Bangalore and has a small child. Learned counsel appearing on behalf of the petitioner submits that it would not be inconvenient for the respondent-husband to prosecute the case in Bangalore as he is unemployed. The petitioner is directed to pay Rupees ten thousand as travelling expenses to the respondent since he is unemployed."

In a recent ruling the Central Information Commission has declared that it is mandatory for the 'Fair Price Shops' to publicly display information "on a daily basis regarding a) list of BPL and Antodaya beneficiaries, b) entitlements of essential commodities, c) scale of issue, d) retail issue prices, e) timings of opening and closing of Fair Price shops, f) stock of essential commodities received during the month, g) opening and closing stock of essential commodities and h) the name of authorities for redressal of grievances/lodging complaints with respect to quality and quantity of essential commodities under the Public Distribution System."

The Central Government has recently notified the amendments made in the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) after a period of one year since they had been passed by the Parliament. Among the important ones, (i) Section 372 of the CrPC has been amended to provide the victim of offence the right to appeal whereas earlier approval of the public prosecutor was required to file an appeal, (ii) The Government has been mandated to formulate schemes for compensation of the victims, (iii) trials of rape offences are to be completed within two months (iv) testimony of rape victims can be taken at the comfort of their home etc. 

In a recently published opinion, the Florida Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee had disapproved  the conduct of judges of adding lawyers who appear before them as friends on online networkings sites. The reasons assigned by the Committee to propose such are equally intriguing. A must read. 

The Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission has issued a Supply Paper on Staff Supply Code & Performance Standard Regulations and has sought public comments before it is enacted into law. The proposed regulations seek to stipulate the standards of performance in the supply of electricity within the Delhi region. 

A news-item informs us that the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) is working towards getting its shares listed on the stock-exchanges and to this regard has approached SEBI. We had written extensively earlier on this issue in our paper entitled Cross-listing of stock exchanges wherein we had highlighted the various issues which need to the tackled. Now the rabbit if out of the hat, it will be interesting to observe how BSE goes about in this process.  

We are also informed that the securities market regulator SEBI is going after certain insurance companies for floating in the market various securities in the name of insurance products whereas to not carry insurance cover and which in the opinion of SEBI are nothing but mutual funds. The insurance market regulator IRDA has come out in defence of the insurance companies, which makes the issue more interesting. Regulator v. Regulator. Read more at this CNBC article

In what can be an intriguingly hard proposition to sell in India, the Human Right Watch has resolved that Caste is a violation of human-rights and external community is gaining ground to recharacterize its internal law to make amends, providing for caste distinction also as a human right violation. With caste already an unresolved politically-conscious socio-political issue in India, we are not sure how this trend would impact the constitutional structure and ethos. Nonetheless the issue remains a key one to be followed.

And for avid Tax buffs, the Max Planck Institute has come out with this exhaustive backgrounder on the difference between 'debt and equity', an issue which has been of a poser for long for both the taxation authorities as well those offering themselves to tax. As typical of the Institute, the paper contributed by 14 of those associated with it, is one of about 100 pages and covering the legal position in a number of countries and examining the issue from a wide variety of angles. You can find the paper at ssrn's link here.

In this recent paper released by the IMF entitled 'Being a Foreigner Among Domestic Banks: Asset or Liability?', the authors have studied a large number of banks in various countries for about five years to conclude "that foreign banks perform better when from a high income country, when host country competition is limited, and when they are large and rely more on deposits for funding. Foreign banks' performance improves over time, possibly as they adapt, and is better when the home country is geographical or cultural (but not institutional) close to the host country. These findings show the importance of controlling for heterogeneity among foreign banks and help reconcile some contradictory results found in the literature on foreign banks' performance." An interesting read.

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