New Delhi: The Election Commission told the Supreme Court on Monday that former Karnataka Speaker’s order disqualifying 17 MLAs from the Assembly cannot deprive them of their right to contest the upcoming by-polls for 15 constituencies in the state.The EC sought from the apex court, which agreed to examine the pleas of the MLAs seeking stay on disqualification and for contesting the by-elections, that the by-polls should not be stayed. A bench of Justices N V Ramana, Sanjiv Khanna and Krishna Murari said it would hear the pleas on September 25. Also Read – 2019 most peaceful festive season for J&K: Jitendra Singh”I have no say on the issue of disqualification. The gist of the matter is that the Speaker has disqualified them and vacancy is there. The election should not be stayed,” EC’s counsel told the bench. “The Speaker’s order cannot deprive them of the right to contest the elections,” the EC said. The top court issued notices to the speaker of Karnataka Assembly, Karnataka Congress and JD (S) leaders and the state government on the petitions. Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the disqualified MLAs, told the bench that either the by-polls, for which nominations can be filed till September 30, should be stayed or these politicians should be allow to contest the by-elections. Also Read – Personal life needs to be respected: Cong on reports of Rahul’s visit abroadSenior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the other party, questioned the EC stand saying it was surprising. “Why the Election Commission has come and said so, we are surprised,” Sibal said. Rohatgi said that order of the then Speaker K R Ramesh Kumar disqualifying these 17 MLAs should be stayed as he had said that the resignations tendered by them might be voluntary, but “motivated”. He said Kumar had given only three days to these MLAs to respond to the disqualification notices which was completely illegal as according to the Karnataka Assembly rules a minimum of 7-day notice period has to be given for disqualification. “If someone does not wish to be an MLA, nobody can force him unless there is a gun on his head,” Rohatgi said, adding that they have been disqualified for the remaining tenure of the current Assembly which would end in 2023. “We should be entitled to contest the election (by-polls),” he said, adding that the then Speaker had said in his order that these disqualified MLAs cannot even contest the by-polls during the tenure of this Assembly till 2023. “The seven day period to file reply to the notice cannot be curtailed and the Speaker had given us only three days to respond. This is completely illegal what the Speaker has done in this case,” he said. While countering Rohatgi’s submissions, Sibal said that facts referred to him are contrary to the records. “I have to respond on this,” Sibal told the bench, adding that no interim orders should be passed at this stage. To this, the bench said, “We are willing to hear this”. The bench, while posting the matter for hearing on September 25, asked Rohatgi and Sibal to confine their arguments on the point of interim relief sought by these disqualified MLAs. The then Speaker had disqualified these MLAs which eventually led to the fall of the Congress-JD(S) coalition government headed by the then chief minister H D Kumaraswamy. Kumaraswamy resigned as the chief minister after losing a trust vote, which paved the way for the BJP-led government in the southern state under Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa. The disqualified lawmakers have approached the apex court, challenging Kumar’s decision to disqualify them. Some of them have contended in their pleas that the decision taken by Kumar before resigning as the Speaker was an entirely illegal, arbitrary and mala fide exercise of his power under the 10th Schedule of the Constitution. They have also questioned Kumar’s decision to reject their resignations by holding that those were not voluntary and genuine.
Mumbai: The now-suspended managing director of the crisis-hit Punjab and Maharashtra Cooperative Bank (PMC), Joy Thomas, has reportedly admitted to the RBI that the bank’s actual exposure to the bankrupt HDIL is over Rs 6,500 crore — four times the regulatory cap or a whopping 73 per cent of its entire assets of Rs 8,880 crore. The admission came in after a board member leaked the actual balancesheet details to the Reserve Bank, a source in know of the details said. Also Read – Commercial vehicle sales to remain subdued in current fiscal: IcraThe slum redevelopment focused Housing Development and Infrastructure or HDIL is in the bankruptcy court now after being hit by a severe cash crunch following the failure of some of its key projects in the city. While HDIL did not reply to a detailed e-mail sent by PTI on the issue, the bank, its chairman Waryam Singh and Joy Thomas could not be reached for comments immediately. The source said that non-disclosure of the actual HDIL status (NPA since the past two-three years) and the quantum of the exposure to the group was leaked by one of the PMC board members himself to the Reserve Bank, forcing Joy Thomas to confess the misreporting. Also Read – Ashok Leyland stock tanks over 5 pc as co plans to suspend production for up to 15 daysAccording to the source, Thomas wrote a four-and-a-half page detailed letter to the regulator giving details of how he, along with six key people who include a few board members, including chairman Waryam Singh and one or two senior bank officials, were sanctioning loans to the HDIL Group. The source further said Thomas has also confessed that most of the board members were in the dark about these loans. Waryam Singh was on the board of HDIL for nine years between 2006 and 2015 and had held 1.91 per cent stake in the company during this period. He ceased to be a non-executive director of the company in March 2015. Before he exited the HDIL board, Singh had sold his entire stake in the company. “The whistleblower board member approached the regulator and provided information about financial irregularities and the real estate company’s loans not being classified as non-performing loans from last two-three years, despite defaults on repayments,” the source said. “This forced Thomas to go the RBI. In a four-and-a-half page letter, he confessed the wrongdoings and evergreening of some other key accounts,” he added. The loans were sanctioned to the realty developer since 2008, the source said. “Thomas in the letter admitted that the exposure to HDIL Group was over Rs 6,500 crore, which is nearly 73 per cent of its total loan book of Rs 8,880 crore as of September 19, 2019,” the source said. As per regulations, single entity exposure limit for banks is 15 per cent of their capital fund. For group companies, the exposure limit is 20 per cent. Thus, PMC’s exposure to HDIL is almost four-times of what RBI mandates. Thomas, in a press conference last week, had said the bank’s exposure to HDIL and its related entities was to the tune of Rs 2,500 crore and that there was delay in repayments by the group since the last two-three years. In the confession letter, Thomas also put the actual NPA number at 60-70 per cent as against a reported net NPA of 2.19 per cent as of March 31, 2019, the source said. Though the RBI is still inspecting the bank’s balancesheet, if the NPA numbers turn out to be as per Thomas’ confession, it will be the highest in the banking industry so far. On September 19, Thomas met RBI Executive Director Rabi Mishra and sought time to resolve the issue, citing HDIL was in advanced stages of selling some of its real estate assets. The money from the asset sale could have helped HDIL repay at least the interest part and make its account with PMC standard, Thomas had informed the RBI. The regulator sent the inspection team to the bank’s headquarters in suburban Mumbai on the evening of September 19 itself. During the inspection, RBI found major financial irregularities, under-reporting of exposure and failure of internal controls and systems. On September 23 evening, the RBI had put a slew of restrictions on the bank for six months. The restrictions included curbs on fresh lending, accepting fresh deposits and investments, among others. The withdrawal limit for account holders was also kept at Rs 1,000 for six months, which was later raised to Rs 10,000. The regulator also dismissed the board and suspended Thomas. It appointed J B Bhoria as the administrator at the bank.