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Thursday,09-July-2020

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Madras High Court: RBI employees aren’t government servants

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The Madras High Court has observed that the employees of Reserve Bank of India (RBI) cannot be referred to as “government servants” while identifying their employment status.

The Division Bench, comprising of Justice K.K. Sasidharan and Justice P.D. Audikesavulu, said: “The fact that the central government has persuasive control over RBI would not make its employees central government employees…

“It is true that the RBI is a state within the meaning of Article 12 of the Constitution of India. Even then it cannot be said that its employees are all regular Government employees.”

The observation came after an RBI employee, E. Manoj Kumar, had moved the High Court seeking declaration of his result in the Tamil Nadu Public Service Commission (TNPSC).

While filling up the questionnaire in the application form for Combined Civil Services-I Examination, Kumar had identified himself as a non-government employee in 2016.

The Commission withheld his result on the ground of suppression of material particulars in the application form regarding his employment with the Reserve Bank of India.

“Are you a Government employee?” was one of the queries in the questionnaire published by the TNPSC. Kumar answered it in the negative.

He cleared the written test, and was selected for the appointment to the post of Deputy Superintendent of Police.

However, his appointment met with a road block, and when he moved the court, a single bench at the Madras High Court dismissed his plea citing that the instruction on the application was very clear.

The instructions to the candidates contained not only government service, but there was also a provision to declare other services. It said that non-disclosure of the bank service is equivalent to suppression of information attracting disqualification.

The Division Bench though observed that the application form did not have a separate column clearly indicating the candidates to declare their nature of employment.

Taking a contrary view on Kumar’s plea, it observed that the column in the application form contained only one service for disclosure viz., “Government Service”, and thus it would not be possible for a Bank employee to record that he is a Government employee.

The bench noted that Kumar had correctly filled the application form for the examination.

It said: “Even the entry in question was correctly filled up by the appellant. He is not responsible for the preparation of an incorrect questionnaire by the TNPSC.”

Setting aside the single bench’s order passed on March 26, the Division Bench of the High Court directed the TNPSC to forward Kumar’s candidature to the government to take action regarding his appointment within one week.

Business

WhatsApp Business hits 50 million users globally, 15mn in India

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WhatsApp Business app.

With the Covid-19 disruptions bringing more businesses online, WhatsApp Business has reached a new milestone of 50 million monthly users globally with almost a third of them being in India, the Facebook-owned platform said on Thursday.

In India, there are more than 15 million monthly WhatsApp Business app users.

The platform on Thursday also introduced new features to start a chat with a business on WhatsApp like starting a chat with a business using QR codes.

Scanning a QR code will open a chat with an optional pre-populated message created by the business to start the conversation, WhatsApp Business said in a blog post.

With the app’s messaging tools, businesses can quickly send information such as their catalog to get the conversation going.

QR codes are available for businesses around the world using the WhatsApp Business app or WhatsApp Business API starting Thursday, the company said.

WhatsApp Business said that more than 40 million people view a business catalog on the platform each month, while more than three million users in India do so each month.

“To make it easier for people to discover products, we’re making catalogs and individual items available to be shared as links on websites, Facebook, Instagram and elsewhere,” said the blog post.

“If people want to share a catalog or item they find with friends or family, they can simply copy the link and send it on WhatsApp or other places as well,” it added.

Additionally, WhatsApp also launched new “Open for Business” sticker packs to help people and businesses stay connected, say thanks and get business done.

WhatsApp which has over 400 million users in India said these sticker packs will be available to all of its more than two billion users worldwide as well as the 50 million users of the WhatsApp Business app.

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Business

Oil and Gas: OMCs set to start FY21 with a bang in Q1

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Petrol. (File Photo: IANS)

The Covid-19 demand suppression in early part of the year is likely to abate for oil marketing companies, now with state-run companies — IOC, HPCL and BPCL making a strong beginning to FY21 returning high levels of earnings per share between 37 and 266 per cent in three months, ICICI Securities has said in a report.

The report on refining and marketing has said that the companies shares would be flying on stock exchanges on the back of record auto fuel marketing margin, inventory gain and in case of BPCL and HPCL, surge in GRM (gross refining margin) on a low base.

Net auto fuel marketing margin (on sale of petrol and diesel) is estimated at Rs 6.1 per litre in Q1FY21 and Rs 2 per litre in Q2FY21. The higher margin is on account of upwards revision of fuel prices that started on June 7 and continued for 22 continuous days raising petrol and diesel prices by about Rs 9.17 and 11.39 per litre respectively.

According to the brokerage report, in FY21 margin may be higher than earlier estimate of Rs 2.5 litre. This would provide higher earnings for the companies as auto fuel sales is a major component of revenue for OMCs.

The main earning driver for OMCs is not only higher margins but also inventory gain that they will make this year. In Q1 the inventory gains for companies are estimated at Rs 550-850 crore against loss or smaller gain in Q1FY20. BPCL and HPCL’s GRM is estimated to be up between two and nine times YoY at $5.9-6.9 per barrel boosted by discounts on crude ($3.4-3.6/bbl) but that of IOC at $4.3/bbl to be down 9 per cent YoY.

OMCs’ Q1 GRM is estimated at $4.3-6.9/bbl including gain from crude at discount to Dubai of $3.4-3.6/bbl. However, GRM in Q2 is weak at $3.0-3.8/bbl (including inventory gain of $0.7-0.8/bbl) due to shrinking of crude discounts. Core GRM may be weak in Q2 and FY21, but that including inventory gain would be higher, the ICICI Securities said.

OMCs’ FY21 product inventory gain is estimated at Rs 1100-2300 crore.

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Business

Flipkart Group invests Rs 260 crore in Arvind Fashions’ arm

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Rupees

The Flipkart Group on Thursday announced it has invested Rs 260 crore to purchase a significant minority stake in Arvind Youth Brands, a subsidiary of Arvind Fashions (AFL).

Arvind Youth Brands owns the popular Flying Machine denim brand that has been retailing on Flipkart and Myntra for more than six years.

With this investment, the Flipkart Group and Arvind Fashions will work collaboratively to identify opportunities and synergies to innovate and develop products with strong value propositions at attractive price points, the ecommerce platform said in a statement.

“We look forward to partnering with the team at Arvind Youth Brands to continue to grow the market for its portfolio of products and enhance the strong brand equity that has been built over the last few decades,” said Kalyan Krishnamurthy, Chief Executive Officer, Flipkart Group.

Arvind Fashions Ltd has a portfolio of renowned brands, both international and indigenous, like US Polo Assn., Arrow, GAP, Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, Flying Machine, Aeropostale, The Children’s Place and Ed Hardy.

It is also India’s leading beauty retailer in partnership with Sephora and owns and runs the value fashion retail chain, Unlimited.

“Given the strong existing relationship with the Flipkart Group, and their presence in online fashion, it was an obvious choice for us to enter into this engagement through which Flipkart and Myntra will be our preferred online partner for the Flying Machine brand,” said J. Suresh, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Arvind Fashions.

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