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September 13, 2017

6-month wait for divorce can go: SC

  • Hindu couples who have mutually agreed to separate need not wait anymore for the mandatory “cooling off” period of six months before divorce, the Supreme Court held on Tuesday.Once a couple moves a court of law for divorce under the Hindu Marriage Act, they have to wait for a minimum period of six months.

Mutual consent

  • Divorce by mutual consent was introduced as an amendment to the Hindu Marriage Act in 1976.The waiting period under Section 13B was mandated to prevent couples from taking any hasty decision to end their marriage. Marriage is a sacrament in Hinduism.The waiting period was for them to have enough time to think through their decision to separate.
  • Divorce was granted only after the ‘cooling off’ period and once the court found there was no further chance for reconciliation.
  • The court held that the waiting period should be done away with in cases where there is no way to save the marriage and all efforts at mediation and conciliation have run their course; where parties have genuinely settled their differences including alimony, custody of child, etc, between themselves; and already a year and a half has passed since their first motion for separation.
  • The application for waiver of waiting period can be filed in court within a week of their first motion for separation. The proceedings can be done through video-conferencing, the court observed.

CAG appointment opaque, says NGO

  • The government appointed Rajiv Mehrishi, a 1978-batch IAS officer, as the CAG at August-end. He will take over from Shashi Kant Sharma by this month-end.
  • Common Cause, an organisation known for its democratic interventions on major policy issues, said it was “shocked” that the NDA government copied the discredited previous government in the appointment of the all-powerful CAG. “The Narendra Modi government, which claims to have zero tolerance for corruption, has missed a golden opportunity to set a high benchmark to fight systemic corruption by putting in place an objective and accountable system of appointment for the crucial constitutional post,” it said.
  • In a statement, the organisation pointed out that the criteria for selection of the CAG should include possession of the requisite professional knowledge and background, ability of an exceptional order and impeccable integrity. “This is essential for preserving the integrity and credibility of the institution of public audit.”
  • It said the Prime Minister could have easily opted for an interim arrangement, similar to the framework that exists for the appointment to the NHRC, the CVC and the CIC.

‘America wants growing trade with India’

  • The rising imbalance in trade with India is a concern for America and India must open its market to more American companies, U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said on Tuesday.Mr. Ross said India must also take more effective measures to protect innovation by improving its intellectual property protections.The Commerce Secretary was addressing a gathering at the U.S.-India Business Council on the forthcoming Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) in Hyderabad in November.
  • “[U.S.] President [Donald] Trump and Prime Minister [Narendra Modi] have announced to co-host this year’s GES in Hyderabad and [they] reiterated the importance of close relations between our two growing economies. Annual bilateral trade between the U.S. and India has doubled over the last decade and was $114 billion in 2016. Unfortunately, over the same period, trade deficit tripled, now at $27 billion. We would naturally want to see growing and balanced trade,” Mr. Ross said, noting some of the recent developments such as the Spice Jet order for 120 planes from Boeing as signs of the Indian market’s promise.
  • He said the imbalance was visible in investments as well. While India’s investors invested $12.1 billion in the U.S. last year, U.S. investors invested $32.9 billion in India. Mr. Ross also pointed out that only 1.5 % of U.S. exports were to India, while only 6.3 % of Indian exports goes to America.
  • India and the U.S have decided to move to the 2+2 format of engagement involving the Secretaries of Defence and State Departments from the American side and Ministers for Defence and External Affairs Ministers from the Indian side.The Strategic and Commercial Dialogue between the two countries is being discontinued from this year.

CPI inflation quickens to 3.36%, IIP rises 1.2%

  • Retail inflation accelerated to a five-month high of 3.36% in August, spurred by sharper increases in the prices of food items particularly vegetables and fruits.
  • Price gains measured by the Consumer Price Index quickened from July’s 2.36%, as the food and beverages segment posted a growth of 1.96% in August, compared with the 0.43% uptick in July.
  • Separately, industrial output as gauged by the Index of Industrial Production (IIP) witnessed a growth of 1.2% in July, rebounding from a contraction of 0.1% in June. Improvements in performance at the mining and electricity sectors buoyed the index, with expansion in the mining sector at 4.8%, up from 0.4% in June.
  • The electricity sector grew 6.5% in July, accelerating from 2.1% in the previous month.
  • Manufacturing, however, grew only 0.1%. Still, this was an improvement from June’s 0.4% contraction.
  • “Notably, core and non-core inflation gauges have jumped in the month, driven by higher transport, housing and possibly transient impact from price changes due to the GST roll-out (eg. health),” Radhika Rao, India Economist at DBS Bank, wrote in an emailed statement. “With August headline inflation on the higher end of the central bank’s 2-3.5% target” for the first half of the current fiscal year, any lingering expectations for an October rate cut were likely to be doused, she wrote.
  • While the uptick in CPI inflation was in line with expectations, the broad-based rise in core CPI inflation was a cause for some concern, according to Aditi Nayar, principal economist at ratings agency ICRA.
  • The fuel and light segment witnessed a marginal quickening: at 4.94% from 4.86% in July. The housing segment saw an acceleration in inflation to 5.58% from 4.98%.
  • While the overall primary goods category of IIP grew 2.3% in July, rebounding from a contraction of 0.2% in June, the capital goods sector continued to contract, shrinking by 1% in July following June’s 6.8% contraction. Consumer durables, too, contracted in July, by 1.3%, compared with a contraction of 2.1% in June.

More than 1 lakh directors at shell firms identified for disqualification

  • The Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MoCA) has said as on Tuesday, it has identified 1.06 lakh directors of ‘shell companies’ for disqualification under the relevant provisions of the Companies Act, 2013. This is part of actions to break the network of ‘shell companies’ and the fight against black money/money laundering activities, it said.
  • Professionals including Chartered Accountants, Company Secretaries and Cost Accountants associated with such defaulting firms and involved in illegal activities have been identified in certain cases and the action by professional institutes such as ICAI, ICSI and ICoAI is being monitored, it said.
  • He said there is the possibility of using the shell companies for laundering black money. He further said, “… by the end of this month, we would be ready with the relevant details of all defaulting Directors of these shell companies. This whole exercise shall go a long way in creating an atmosphere of confidence and faith in the system paving the way for ease of doing business in India.”
  • The move is pursuant to the MoCA’s action of cancellation of registration of around 2.10 lakh defaulting companies and subsequent direction of the finance ministry to banks to restrict operations of bank accounts of such companies by the directors of such companies or their authorized representatives, the MoCA said.