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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

India Votes 2009 - Gujarat riot myths busted

The so-called human rights activist, Teesta Setalvad — who paraded the Gujarat riot victims before the Supreme Court and claimed they had been denied justice — suffered embarrassment on Monday after a Special Investigation Team (SIT) gave sufficient grounds for the apex court to doubt the authenticity of incidents highlighted by her NGO Citizens for Justice and Peace.

The SIT, headed by former CBI Director RK Raghavan along with former DGP CB Satpathy and three senior IPS officers — Geetha Johri, Shivanand Jha and Ashish Bhatia — had been entrusted with the enquiry into post-Godhra riot incidents in Godhra, Gulbarg Society, Naroda Gaon, Naroda Patiya and Sardarpura.

Senior advocate Mukul Rohtagi, appearing for the State, read out portions of the report that refuted the petitioner’s charge of the State’s complicity in the riots.

Pointing out a specific instance, the SIT report stated how the evidence of 22 witnesses was “suspect” owing to the identical submissions made in their affidavits submitted to the court. On enquiry, the SIT found that all the 22 affidavits were drafted, typed and printed from the same computer, giving sufficient grounds to believe they were “tutored”. When the SIT questioned those who signed the affidavits, it was shocked to learn that these complainants were not even aware of the incidents.

Referring to another instance that exposed the Citizens for Justice and Peace’s much ‘trumpeted’ charges, Rohtagi said the SIT investigation found untrue allegation about a gangrape of a pregnant woman Kauser Bano, whose stomach was allegedly pierced by sword and her foetus killed.

Even the instance of dumping of bodies into a well at Naroda Patiya and a charge of the police allegedly shielding accused persons in murder of a British national was found to be untrue, Rohtagi said.

Firing a salvo at the NGO, Rohtagi said, “It is clear from the report that the horrendous allegations made by the NGO were false. Cyclostyled affidavits were supplied by a social activist and the allegations made in them were untrue,” he added, with an obvious reference to Setalvad.

The NGO’s counsel Aparna Bhatt objected to such comments being made on the strength of the report, which had also added several persons as accused in the case. Refusing to be drawn into the slanging match between the opposing parties, the Bench headed by Justice Arijit Pasayat said, “In riot cases, more the delay, there is likelihood of falsity creeping in. So, there should be a designated court to fast track the trials.”

The court asked the State Government, petitioners and amicus curiae senior advocate Harish Salve to suggest recommendations on these lines. Additional Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium, appearing for the Centre, suggested selection of public prosecutors on consultation from the SIT. Salve informed the court that the matter would be taken up with the SIT. Based on a suggestion by another NGO petitioner counsel Indira Jaising to evolve a witness protection system, Salve assured that the same would also be discussed in the light of the sensitivity attached to the case. The bunch of petitions was posted for further hearing after next week.

by Abraham Thomas - Pioneer

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Turnover declines

Nifty April 2009 futures at discount

Nifty April 2009 futures were at 3378.90, at a discount of 3.70 points as compared to the spot closing of 3382.60. Turnover in NSE's futures & options (F&O) segment was Rs 51,688.10 crore, much lower than Rs 62,970.10 crore on Thursday, 9 April 2009.

Reliance Industries April 2009 futures were at a slight discount at 1771.35 compared to the spot closing of 1773.55.

Larsen & Toubro April 2009 futures were at discount at 822 compared to the spot closing of 826.40.

Tata Steel April 2009 futures were at discount at 276.50 compared to the spot closing of 283.15.

In the cash market, the S&P CNX Nifty gained 40.55 points or 1.21% at 3382.60.

Bullion metals shine

News of GM's potential bankruptcy make traders return to precious metals

Bullion metal ended higher on Monday, 13 April, 2009. Prices rose fell as traders returned to precious metals on anticipation that GM might hit bankruptcy and the weak earnings season might take stocks deep down the lane further in the coming weeks. This increased the appeal of the precious metals.

Generally, a stronger dollar pressures demand for dollar-denominated commodities, such as crude oil and gold, which become more expensive for holders of other currencies and also vice versa.

On Monday, Comex Gold for April delivery rose $12.6 (1.4%) to close at $894.7 an ounce on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Last week, gold ended lower by 1.5%. Year to date, gold prices are higher by 0.7%.

For the month of March, gold fell 2.1%, down for the first month in five. But the metal gained 4.3% in the first quarter. Before March, for the month of February, gold ended higher by 7.4%. For January, 2009, gold had gained 3.9%.

On 17 March, 2008 prices had skyrocketed to a high of $1,034/ounce. But prices have dropped somewhat (15.5%) since then.

On Monday, Comex silver futures for May delivery rose by 44 cents (3.6%) at $12.77 an ounce. Year to date, silver has climbed 12.8% this year. For 2008, silver had lost 24%.

U.S. stocks today came under pressure amid fears that GM may be forced to file for bankruptcy. Meanwhile, crude oil slumped nearly 6% after the International Energy Agency lowered its forecast for this year's global oil demand.

In 2008, gold prices ended higher by 5.5%. The dollar index had gained 12% that year.

Last year, the weakening dollar and higher global demand for raw materials had led to records for commodities including gold. Gold reached a record in March 2008 as a U.S. housing slump and credit crisis spurred the Federal Reserve to slash borrowing costs. In the last move, the Federal Reserve has cuts its target bank lending rate to 0.25% from 5.25% in September, 2007. The Fed did it in nine steps.

Prior to 2008, gold had witnessed the greatest annual gain in twenty eight years by gaining $200/ounce (31%) in FY 2007 as lower interest rates had sent the dollar tumbling, and crude-oil prices rose to a record. Silver had climbed 16% in FY 2007. In 2006, silver had jumped 46% while gold gained 23%.

At the MCX, gold prices for June delivery closed higher by Rs 174 (1.2%) at Rs 14,376 per 10 grams. Prices rose to a high of Rs 14,469 per 10 grams and fell to a low of Rs 14,231 per 10 grams during the day's trading.

At the MCX, silver prices for May delivery closed Rs 564 (2.7%) higher at Rs 21,069/Kg. Prices opened at Rs 20,600/kg and rose to a high of Rs 21,200/Kg during the day's trading.

Crude plunges

Prices drop as IEA cuts oil demand forecast

Crude oil slumped nearly 6% today, Monday, 13 April, 2009 after the International Energy Agency lowered its forecast for this year's global oil demand. At the end, crude managed to pare some of its losses.

On Monday, crude-oil futures for light sweet crude for May delivery closed at $50.05/barrel (lower by $4.2 or 2.19%) on the New York Mercantile Exchange. During intra day trading, it fell by 6.5% at one point. Last week, crude ended lower by 0.5%.

Crude ended March trading up 10.9%. It rallied 11.3% in the first quarter. For the month of February, crude prices had ended higher by 1.5%.

Oil prices had reached a high of $147 on 11 July, 2008 but have dropped almost 68% since then. Year to date, in 2009, crude prices are higher by 12.5%. On a yearly basis, crude prices are lower by 50%.

EIA reported today that it is cutting its demand projection by 1 million barrels a day. After the latest revision, global oil demand this year is now forecast at 83.4 million barrels a day, which is 2.4 million barrels a day below the 2008 level.

Also at the Nymex on Monday, May reformulated gasoline fell nearly 2 cents, or 1.2%, to $1.4632 a gallon, and May heating oil dropped 3 cents, or nearly 2.2%, to $1.398 a gallon.

May natural-gas futures rose nearly 2 cents, or 0.5%, to $3.628 per million British thermal units.

Crude prices had ended FY 2008 lower by 54%, the largest yearly loss since trading began at Nymex.

At the MCX, crude oil for March delivery closed at Rs 2,566/barrel, lower by Rs 41 (1.6%) against previous day's close. Natural gas for April delivery closed at Rs 181.3/mmbtu, higher by Rs 0.9/mmbtu (0.5%).

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