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Congress flays Centre over DA freeze for CPSUs’ staff




The Congress on Friday flayed the Centre over the decision to freeze the additional Dearness Allowance of central public sector undertakings’ employees and said it is “yet another sign of a sinking economy”.

“Food inflation rises to 11.1 per cent. But the Modi government is freezing DA instead of increasing it for central PSU employees. While the condition of government employees is poor, the capitalist ‘friends’ are happy,” Congress leader Rahul Gandhi tweeted.

Addressing a press conference here, party leader Supriya Shrinate said: “The economy is spinning out of control and everyone is in trouble. It is not just the unorganised sector, but even the government employees are bearing the brunt of incompetent handling of the Indian economy.”

The Congress maintained that there was a complete collapse of the Indian economy not just during the coronavirus pandemic but even before that, due to the Modi government’s “economic mismanagement”. “Now, it is taking steps that will further destroy demand and dent consumption.”

“Skyrocketing prices make matter worse. Increase in inflation to a six-year high of 7.61%, especially alarmingly high food inflation at 11.6%, is troublesome. So, simply put, a freeze on DA along with high prices amounts to salary cuts for central government employees, PSU staff, pensioners and the armed forces,” Shrinate said.

“Why does the Modi government not shelve discretionary and vanity expenditure like the Rs 20,000-crore Central Vista project, the Rs 1.10 lakh crore bullet train project, or cut 30 per cent of the wasteful expenditure of the government, which will come to close to Rs 2.5 lakh crore?” the Congress spokesperson asked.

As per a circular dated November 19, the government froze additional DA instalments (due from October 1, 2020) for employees of Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSEs) till June 30, 2021. The additional DA from January 1, 2021 to April 1, 2021 will not be paid, the Department of Public Enterprises said. This decision impacts over 14.5 lakh employees across 339 central PSUs.

It follows retrospective cut in DA and Dearness Pay for 113 lakh central government employees and pensioners, including armed forces, in April 2020.

The Congress alleged that DA freeze was a cue for the private sector to withhold salary hikes or appraisals. “Many state governments have already frozen DA and Dearness pay of their employees. They will perhaps now move to do so for state PSUs as well.”


Sensex down over 100 points after opening in green




The Indian equity indices traded on a negative note on Thursday morning after opening in the green.

Banking, auto, oil and gas stocks witnessed selling pressure so far.

Around 10 a.m., Sensex was trading at 43,698.64, lower by 129.46 points or 0.30 per cent from its previous close of 43,828.10.

It opened at 43,967.59 and has so far touched an intra-day high of 44,023.26 and a low of 43,655.60 points.

The Nifty50 on the National Stock Exchange was trading at 12,822.25, lower by 36.15 points or 0.28 per cent from its previous close.

Manish Hathiramani, technical analyst with Deen Dayal Investments said: “After a long time traders were struck by nervousness yesterday when the Nifty broke down over 200 points from the high. The support of 12,800 has still not been violated and hence traders can continue holding their positions with a trailing stop loss.”

“If we break 12,800, we could drop further to 12,500. If we resume the existing uptrend from the current level, we can head to 13,200,” he said.

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VW to face action for cheat devices, Supreme Court junks plea on quashing FIR




The Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed a special leave petition (SLP) filed by German car manufacturer Skoda-Volkswagen (VW) seeking to quash an FIR registered over alleged installation of cheat emissions devices in its vehicles.

A bench headed by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde dismissed the SLP filed by the German car manufacturer.

Skoda-Volkswagen will have to face prosecution in case registered in Uttar Pradesh under charges of allegedly cheating and conspiracy, after the top court junked its petition to quash an FIR in Noida.

The FIR, has named the car manufacturer’s top officials, for over installing cheat devices to misrepresent emission levels.

On November 4, the Supreme Court had queried Skoda Volkswagen (VW) India Pvt Ltd, why shouldn’t the trial against it go on in an FIR registered in Uttar Pradesh over alleged cheat emission devices installed in its cars.

Senior advocate A.M. Singhvi, representing the German car-maker VW, submitted that in March, 2019, a penalty was imposed on VW by NGT (National Green Tribunal), which was stayed by the top court. Chief Justice S.A. Bobde replied: “I know, I was party to that order. But what that has to do with the criminal prosecution?”

Singhvi replied that vehicle was bought in 2018, and for nearly two and a half years there were no complaints. “While the NGT matter was pending, this FIR was lodged where the allegations are same as the application before the NGT,” argued Singhvi.

The Chief Justice replied, “But, why should the trial not go on? NGT will not determine the correctness of your action.”

Singhvi cited there are two allegations, installation of cheat device and environmental damage caused and citing stay on NGT order queried, “How can a new complaint start?”

The bench also comprising Justices A.S. Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian noted that a criminal complaint is filed as the citizen says I have been cheated and the NGT is a general order on cheat devices. “I( a citizen says) was told that there is no device in the car but it was there”, observed Chief Justice.

The Chief Justice told Singhvi that prima facie the court does not agree with him. Singhvi insisted is criminal prosecution fair at this stage? They have also accused officers outside India, he added.

After a detailed hearing in the matter, the top court had reserved its verdict on quashing of FIR against VW for installing cheat devices in their cars.

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IKEA to begin work on biggest outlet in Noida




Swedish flat-pack furniture giant IKEA will soon begin work at its Noida outlet, touted to be its biggest store in India.

The company had signed an MoU with the Uttar Pradesh government in December 2018 for Rs 5,000-crore investment in Noida and other cities in the state. It has committed to completing the project by 2025.

State Industries Minister Satish Mahana said 47,833 square metre land had been allotted to the company, but work did not take off due to pending payments.

“All issues have been cleared and the company has committed to finishing the project by 2025. I have issued directions to ensure the company gets quick possession of land,” he said on Thursday.

IKEA, which opened its first outlet in India in Hyderabad in 2018, has proposed to set up an integrated commercial project in Noida giving direct employment to 1,000 and indirect jobs to another 1,000.

The company intends to expand to 40 cities by 2030.

Officials said, IKEA initially signed an MoU with the previous government in 2015 to set up three stores in Lucknow, Agra and Noida with an investment of Rs 500-crore in each city.

However, its plans evolved over the years and a fresh MoU was signed in 2018.

Sources said, a typical IKEA store has an average size of 4,00,000 square feet. Since it is difficult to find such a large space within a city, the company is looking to change its model and develop smaller stores, either standalone or even within malls.

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