Newsletter July 5 2018





The Delhi Lt Governor (L-G) does not have independent decision-making powers and is bound to act on the advice of the Council of Ministers, except on subjects reserved for him or where he differs and decides to refer an issue to the President, the Supreme Court has ruled.

The top court’s ruling circumscribing the L-G’s powers came as a victory of sorts for the Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP govt, which has been at loggerheads with the Centre’s nominee over a host of issues since voted to power in February 2015.

The verdict came on the Kejriwal govt’s petition challenging the Delhi High Court’s August 2016 decision declaring the L-G as the administrative head of Delhi, which was referred to a Constitution Bench.

In a landmark verdict, a five-judge Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra said: “The L-G has not been entrusted with any independent decision-making power. He has to either act on the ‘aid and advice’ of the Council of Ministers or is bound to implement the decision taken by the President on a reference made by him,” said CJI Misra, writing the verdict for himself and Justices AK Sikri and AM Khanwilkar.

Justices DY Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan wrote separate but concurring verdicts. The top court advised the Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP govt to act prudently and accept the fact that Delhi was not a full-fledged state. But it also said: “All decisions of Council of Ministers must be communicated to the L-G, but that doesn’t mean concurrence of the L-G is required.”

It said the proviso to Article 239AA(4), which gives powers to the LG to refer an issue to the President if he disagrees with the decision of the elected govt, must be operated and applied in a manner which facilitates and does not obstruct governance. “If the expression ‘any matter’ were to be construed as ‘every matter’ or every trifling matter, it would result in bringing to a standstill the administration of the affairs of the NCT,” the SC said, stressing that the L-G and the Council of Ministers must try to settle any point of difference by way of discussion and dialogue and barring issues over which Centre had exclusive powers, the NCT must be allowed to legislate and govern on other issues.

The court reasserted that the L-G has no independent powers, except on land, public order and police – on these three subjects, the L-G needn’t go by the Cabinet’s advice.





Following the Supreme Court verdict on the powers and limits of Lieutenant Governor on Wednesday, Puducherry Chief Minister V Narayanasamy said the order applies to the Union territory too and it is time for L-G Kiran Bedi to stop creating hindrance in governance. In Puducherry, a stand-off similar to Delhi between Chief Minister Narayanasamy and L-G Kiran Bedi has been affecting smooth functioning of the govt for the past two years.

Narayanasamy said the order proves that whatever he has been writing to the Prime Minister and Union Ministry of Home Affairs for the past two years is true. “Prime Minister never replied to my letters. Home Minister never acted on them. Now the time has come for us to fulfil the projects we promised. We thank the judiciary. L-G Bedi cannot come up with anymore hindrances,” he said.

Narayanasamy warned he would file a contempt petition if the L-G failed to act in accordance with the SC order.





With the 2019 general elections round the corner, the Cabinet Wednesday approved the highest absolute hike ever in the Minimum Support Price (MSP) for paddy, and a significant hike for other Kharif crops.

The new MSP rates will ensure that farmers get at least 150 per cent of the cost of production for each crop estimated by the Commission for Agricultural Prices and Production (CACP), a promise made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his interaction with the farming community last week.

Announcing the Cabinet’s “historic” decision, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said that the MSP for common grade paddy has been increased from Rs 1,550 per quintal to Rs 1,750 per quintal, an increase of nearly 13 per cent.

The MSP hike, Singh said, will cost the exchequer more than Rs 15,000 crore in the current fiscal. The CACP’s estimates for the input costs taken into account is as per the A2+FL formula, which covers actual paid-out costs plus an imputed value of unpaid family labour.

Responding to a question, the Home Minister played down fears that this hike could lead to increase in the rate of inflation. He said that the NDA govt has managed to check the rate of inflation in the last four years and the rate of GDP growth has been the double the rate of inflation. He said there are many factors that can lead to an increase in the rate of inflation, and to say that the hike in MSP will lead to a higher rate of inflation will not be correct.




The Congress has dismissed as a lie the Narendra Modi govt’s claim that distressed farmers had received a “historic” windfall on Wednesday.

The party sought to cut the hype and place the bare facts on the table even as the govt bragged about the “biggest-ever” hike of Rs 200 in the minimum support price (MSP) for paddy.

The Congress said the Manmohan Singh govt had raised the MSP for paddy by Rs 410 between 2009 and 2014, while the Modi govt’s hike in five years would reach Rs 390 if this Rs 200, which would ultimately be given by the next govt, were included.

“The UPA govt increased the MSP every year by around 12 per cent while the Modi govt ignored agriculture for four years and finally gave a Rs 200 hike before the election to fool the farmers,” Congress communications chief Randeep Surjewala said.

Although Wednesday’s hike was significant, given the pathetic performance in the last four years, the Congress leader described the decision as “falsehood of the Jumla-nathan committee, not the implementation of the Swaminathan committee that was promised by the Prime Minister”.








German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday warned U.S. President Donald Trump against unleashing an all-out trade war after he threatened to impose steep tariffs on cars from the European Union.

In a speech to the Bundestag federal parliament, Ms. Merkel said both sides were effectively locked in a “trade conflict” since Mr. Trump’s decision to slap punitive tariffs on steel and aluminium imports.

“It is worthwhile to prevent this conflict from becoming a real war,” she said, adding however that this “would require both sides” to take steps.

Taking aim at Mr. Trump over his complaint that the EU, and in particular economic powerhouse Germany, is running a massive trade surplus against the U.S., Ms. Merkel said that his calculation is skewed as it is based only on goods, not services.

“If you include services like the digital services, then you have a completely different trade balance sheet, with the U.S. showing a surplus against the EU,” she noted. “It is almost old-fashioned to only calculate goods and not include services.”





For the second time in four months, two people lie critically ill in England’s Salisbury District Hospital after being exposed to a military-grade nerve agent developed in the Soviet Union, British police confirmed late Wednesday.

The country’s chief counterterrorism police officer said tests at Britain’s defense laboratory had confirmed what many residents feared — a man and woman in their 40s had been poisoned with the same toxin that almost killed a former Russian spy and his daughter.

Initially, the investigation was led by local police, but Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu of London’s Metropolitan Police said counterterrorism detectives were taking charge after the substance was identified as Novichok.





The Trump administration rescinded an extensive set of guidelines put in place under President Barack Obama that had called on colleges and universities to consider race as a way of promoting diversity.

US Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the 24 documents many of which gave advice to schools on how to deal with Supreme Court decisions on race and admissions “were unnecessary, outdated, inconsistent with existing law, or otherwise improper.”

It has the effect of bringing the federal govt’s position on affirmative action close to that of the George W. Bush administration which held that race could be considered only if a university had no other way of achieving a diverse student class.

The US Supreme Court has ruled over a series of cases that universities may use affirmative action to help minority applicants get into college. Conservatives have argued such programmes can hurt whites and Asian-Americans.









A Delhi court Wednesday reserved its order on the anticipatory bail plea of Congress MP Shashi Tharoor in the case relating to the death of his wife Sunanda Pushkar. Special Judge Arvind Kumar reserved the judgment after Delhi Police opposed Tharoor’s anticipatory bail plea, saying he might “flee the country”.

Tharoor has already been summoned as an accused in the case on July 7 by an Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate. Special Public Prosecutor Atul Srivastava said that since Tharoor is an influential person, he may harm the investigation. “He is a frequent flier and may settle abroad. Some of the key witnesses — including Narayan Singh and Bajrangi — are still working with Tharoor and he may influence them,” he said.

However, senior advocates Kapil Sibal and Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for Tharoor, told the court that police are making statements contrary to ones made earlier. “In the chargesheet, they (police) said that Tharoor cooperated during the probe and therefore, he was not arrested. Police is speaking contrary to what they were speaking earlier,” Sibal said.





If the Lucknow passport controversy has proved that the Prime Minister and most of his ministers would not antagonise vicious tweeters, it has also helped draw attention to a little-noticed change that has cut passport red tape.

The Lucknow controversy arose from two factors: the passport official had demanded the marriage certificate of an inter-faith couple and allegedly asked offensive questions about their religions; and police had sent an adverse report citing a discrepancy in the wife’s name and casting doubts on her address.

Both had exceeded their brief, an inquiry has concluded now, vindicating foreign minister Sushma Swaraj who was attacked after the official was transferred.

Marriage certificates do not figure among the documents needed for passports. Besides, the police verification format had been simplified on May 21, well before the Lucknow incident.

Under the new format, the police need to verify only the citizenship of the passport applicant and whether the person has any criminal record. The address does not come into the picture. The police need ask only six questions, instead of the earlier nine, that can all be answered with a “Yes” or a “No”.

The six questions are: Is the applicant a citizen of India? Has the person been convicted by any court? Is any criminal proceeding on against the person? Has the person been barred from overseas travel? Has a warrant or summons in a criminal matter been issued against the person? Can the person be a potential threat to national security or affect relations with a foreign country?





The higher support prices to farmers could fuel food inflation and prompt the RBI to hike key interest rates, analysts warned.

The median hike in support prices, announced on Wednesday, is 25 per cent across different crops and the hike in paddy, the main produce during the kharif season, is 13 per cent. “The additional govt spend on account of the higher MSPs will be to the tune of Rs 15,000 crore,” Union home minister Rajnath Singh said after a cabinet meeting.

“We are concerned about inflation. We have controlled inflation in the last four years and will succeed in controlling it in the future as well,” he said.





A day after the govt voiced concern over WhatsApp messages triggering lynching in parts of the country, the US-based social media platform said fake news, misinformation, and hoaxes can be checked by the govt, civil society and technology companies working together.

Outlining steps it has taken to curb abuse of its platform, WhatsApp — in its response to a notice sent by the IT Ministry — said it has the ability to prevent spam but since it cannot see the content of private messages, blocking can be done only based on user reports.

WhatsApp said it retains limited information and is end-to-end encrypted but this privacy protection has trade-offs in form of “the inability to see problematic content spreading through private conversations on our app.”




Bollywood actor Sonali Bendre on Wednesday revealed that she has been diagnosed with cancer. The actor is currently in New York for treatment. Releasing a statement, Sonali, famous for her roles in films like Hum Saath Saath Hain, Sarfarosh, Kal Ho Na Ho, said, “Sometimes when you least expect it, life throws you a curveball. I have recently been diagnosed with high-grade cancer that has metastasized, which we frankly did not see coming. A niggling pain led to some tests, which led to this unexpected diagnosis. My family and close friends have rallied around me, providing the best support system that anyone can ask for. I am very blessed and thankful for each of them.”

Adding to it, she said, “There is no better way to tackle this than to take swift and immediate action. And so, as advised by my doctors, I am currently undergoing a course of treatment in New York. We remain optimistic and I am determined to fight every step of the way. What has helped has been the immense outpouring of love and support I’ve received over the past few days, for which I am very grateful. I’m taking this battle head-on, knowing I have the strength of my family and friends behind me.”

As the actor shared the news on her social media handles, love and best wishes for her speedy recovery started pouring in from friends, fans and colleagues.


Swedish car maker Volvo Cars will start producing plug-in hybrid model, XC90 Excellence, in India from next year as part of its plans to sell one million electrified cars globally by 2025.

According to Volvo’s plan, every car it launches in India will have a plug-in powertrain apart from the conventional internal combustion engine (ICE) and diesel powertrains.

“Plug-in hybrids are a natural bridge between ICEs and electric vehicles (EVs). In a country such as India which is grappling with the infrastructure issue of e-mobility, plug-in hybrid is the answer,” said Charles Frump, managing director of Volvo Car India.

The company on Wednesday launched its compact SUV XC40 in India at an introductory price point of Rs 39.9 lakh. While the XC40 can drive the volumes for Volvo, the company is betting on the plug-in hybrid to be the “differentiator” in the luxury segment.


Tata Motors’ small car Nano is inching closer towards the end of its journey with just one unit produced in June, although the company maintained that no decision has been taken yet on stopping its production.

The entry level car, brainchild of Ratan Tata who envisaged giving a safer and affordable alternative to families riding on two-wheelers, sold just three units last month in the domestic market.

In a regulatory filing, Tata Motors said there was no export of Nano in June this year. It had shipped 25 units in the same month last year.

In terms of production, only one unit was produced last month as against 275 units in June 2017.


Maria Sharapova suffered her first opening round Wimbledon defeat and earliest Grand Slam exit in eight years when she was shocked by fellow Russian Vitalia Diatchenko, the world No. 132. Sharapova, the 2004 champion, was joined yesterday at the exit by 2011 and 2014 winner Petra Kvitova who was stunned by Belarusian world number 50 Aliaksandra Sasnovich.

Sharapova was cruising to victory at one stage with a set and 5-2 lead before qualifier Diatchenko shrugged off a back injury to win 6-7 (3/7) 7-6 (7/3) 6-4 after more than three hours of tense action.

Sharapova, playing Wimbledon for the first time in three years after missing in 2016 through a drugs ban and 2017 due to an injury, gave up the match on her 11th double fault. It was her earliest exit at a Slam since a first round defeat at the 2010 Australian Open.

Roger Federer extended his flawless winning streak at Wimbledon to 26 consecutive sets as the defending champion crushed Lukas Lacko, while Venus Williams battled back to beat Alexandra Dulgheru in Wednesday’s second round action.

Caroline Wozniacki’s honeymoon on grass was short-lived as she became the 11th women’s seed to fall on the first three days at Wimbledon in a 6-4 1-6 7-5 second-round defeat by Ekaterina Makarova on Wednesday.


Sensex 35,645 (+267), Nifty 10,770 (+70), Trading Value NSE (Rs.crores) 25,099

(The US markets were closed yesterday)

US$-Rs. 68.55 GBP-Rs. 90.58, Euro-Rs. 79.90, UAE Dhm-Rs.18.66, Can$-Rs. 52.16, Aus$- Rs. 50.65

GBP 0.75 /US$, Euro 0.85 /US$, Jap.Yen 110.45 /US$, Aus$ 1.35 /US$, Sing 1.36 /US$, Bang Taka 83.11 /US$, Can$ 1.31 /US$, Mal Ring 4.04 /US$,

Pak Re 121.41 /US$, Phil Peso 53.36 /US$, Russian Rouble 63.20 /US$, NZ$ 1.47 /US$, Thai Baht 33.08 /US$, Ukraine Hryvnia 26.21 /US$

Bitcoin – USD 6,501

Dollar Index 94.41 Brent Crude 77.71 BDI 1476

Gold world Spot Price USD/aoz 1,256 India (Rs. per gm 24k/22k) 3005 / 2917, Silver (Rs. Per KG) 42,800


Our achievements of today are but the sum total of our thoughts of yesterday. You are today where the thoughts of yesterday have brought you and you will be tomorrow where the thoughts of today take you. – Blaise Pascal


The extended family had gathered during summer vacations and they all decided to go for a movie. Concerned over the steep prices of tickets in multiplexes, Lady of the house called one over the phone.

Q – “How much is a ticket?”   A – “Rs. 350.”

“How much for children?”   “Same price, Rs. 350.”

“But the airlines charge half fare for children.”

“OK, put your kids on a plane to somewhere, and you come to the movie. You’ll enjoy it a lot more that way.”

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