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Thursday,04-March-2021

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Tata Trusts must introspect on greater scrutiny by govt bodies: Cyrus Mistry

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SP Group chief Cyrus Mistry on Thursday said that instead of seeking to blame him at every turn, the Trustees of the Tata Trusts must introspect why they have deviated, leading to a greater scrutiny on their operations by the various government bodies.

“We note that the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal has issued a corrigendum on its own, to correct the wild personal allegations made against Mr Mistry that formed part of its order dated 28 December, in proceedings where Mr Mistry was not even a party,” a statement from Mistry’s office said.

The corrigendum states “inadvertent errors” had crept into the order involving Tata Trusts.

“The reversal of these comments acknowledges that information sent by Mr Mistry to the Deputy Commission of Income Tax (DCIT) had been in response to a specific summons, conduct that is expected of any law-abiding person. This acknowledgement by the ITAT corroborates the submissions in this regard put forward by the SP Group before the Supreme Court, and is one step towards the vindication of truth and justice,” it said.

“It is a matter of record that after Tata Sons failed to respond to an earlier notice, the DCIT had issued summons and called upon directors of Tata Sons including Mr Mistry to comply with a notice issued under Section 133(6) of the Income Tax Act. Even the Articles of Tata Sons envisages disclosure of information when required to do so by a court of law. The DCIT is a ‘civil court’ under the Income Tax Act, 1961. As a director of Tata Sons, Mr Mistry responding to the summons was a legal requirement and fully in accordance with the Articles of Association of Tata Sons and more importantly, a discharge of his fiduciary duties as a director,” the statement said.

Mistry said the Tata Trusts are public charitable trusts, not a family investment firm, and the current trustees, who are fiduciaries, have been tasked with the noble goal of improving the lives of millions of Indians through philanthropy.

“Instead of seeking to blame Mr. Mistry at every turn, the Trustees of the Tata Trusts must introspect why they have deviated from this path, leading to a greater scrutiny on their operations by the various government bodies.”

“The Trustees must introspect why in July 2018, the Public Accounts Committee, a Parliamentary Committee expressed concern that Public Charitable Trusts were being used to run businesses for profit and repeatedly violating provisions of the Income Tax Act,” the statement said.

The CAG Report of 2019 records that the corpus funds of Trusts are being utilized to control the business of the group companies instead of applying funds for charitable purposes,it added.

“The Trustees should also introspect why they continue to seek to donate hundreds of millions of dollars to rich foreign universities with deep pockets and worse, where one of the Trustees has an association, instead of applying the tax-exempt money for the development of educational institutes in India as mandated by the settlors of the Trusts,” Cyrus Mistry said.

As fiduciaries in charge of public money, the Trustees have a moral duty to avoid conflicts of interest and discharge their duties in accordance with law and the Trust deeds, he said.

“It is a matter of record that even as early as 2013, the Comptroller Auditor General of India (CAG), found irregularities of nearly Rs 1,000 crore in the Income Tax Exemptions given to the Tata Trusts,” it said.

“While we all are extremely proud of the good work that has been done by the Tata Trusts in the past, the question today is whether the decisions to deviate from the highest standards of governance imperils the largest public charitable trusts in India, and prevents benefits from reaching its rightful beneficiaries – the people of India,” the statement added.

“The Mistry family has for several decades acted as a guardian of Tata Sons. As long as we are associated with the Tata Group, we will continue to be the voice for truth and transparency – the hallmarks of the Tata Group – an institution we are all proud of,” it added.

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Business

No change in petrol and diesel prices for 5th day

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Consumers have been spared of another increase in fuel prices with oil marketing companies deciding to keep petrol and diesel rates static for fifth consecutive day on the back of stability seen in international oil markets.

Accordingly, petrol continues to be priced at Rs 91.17 a litre and diesel Rs 81.47 a litre in the capital on Thursday. Across the country as well both fuel price remain unchanged.

After a spike in global oil prices seen over last two weeks with crude price jumping close to $67 a barrel, prices have now fallen to around $64 a barrel over indications that production cuts would be eased by oil producers from next month. This, along with continuing pandemic and demand disruptions in few major markets has reduced the pace of oil price rise.

Steady fuel prices comes as a major relief to consumers who have seen a sea rise in their transportation expenses quickly over the past couple of months. Even the trade is feeling the pinch as higher oil prices have impacted pricing of several goods and services.

Petrol and diesel prices have been rising continuously since February 9. In the 14 increases since then, price have gone up by Rs 4.22 per litre for petrol while diesel rate has risen by Rs 4.34 a litre in Delhi.

The increase in the previous weeks has taken petrol to cross historic high levels of Rs 100 a litre in several cities across the country.

The petrol and diesel prices have increased 26 times in 2021 with the two auto fuels increasing by Rs 7.46 and Rs 7.60 per litre respectively so far this year.

Oil companies executives said that petrol and diesel prices may increase further in coming days as retail prices may have to be balanced in line with global developments to prevent OMCs from making loss on sale of auto fuels.

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India wearables market grows 144.3% in 2020: IDC

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Driven by record shipments of hearables and watches, the India wearables market posted 144.3 per cent year-over-year (YoY) growth in 2020, exiting the year with 36.4 million unit shipments, industry tracker International Data Corporation (IDC) said on Thursday.

India was the only country in the top 20 to see triple-digit growth in wearables in 2020 and continues to be the third-largest wearables market globally, showed IDC Worldwide Quarterly Wearable Device Tracker.

“2020 was a year of transition in the audio segment from wired to wireless devices,” said Jaipal Singh, Associate Research Manager, Client Devices, IDC India.

“In 2021, this category will further migrate to more sophisticated devices with enhanced audio experience being the central theme for all vendors,” he added.

Earwear device shipments grew more than threefold in 2020 compared to the previous year, mainly driven by the affordable launches, and expanding use cases beyond entertainment like virtual meetings and e-learning requirements.

Truly Wireless Stereo (TWS) devices were the top gainer seeing a tenfold increase with shipments totaling 11.3 million units in 2020.

“Hearables became one of the most sought-after electronic categories in 2020. The newer version of hearables are much better in managing the increased audio usages and improved aesthetic and design also made them the trendsetter,” Anisha Dumbre, Market Analyst, IDC India, said in a statement.

The October-December 2020 recorded the biggest quarter for wearables in India, maintaining triple-digit growth.

Overall, vendors shipped 15.2 million units in Q4 2020, growing 198.2 per cent YoY.

This was the first quarter when shipments of watches crossed the one million mark as vendors shipped 1.3 million units during the quarter.

Noise’s Colorfit pro-2, Realme watch, Apple’s watch series 6, and new launches from Amazfit provided this strong growth for watches in 4Q20.

Wristbands declined by 34.3 per cent YoY in 2020 since peaking in 2019 as the year ended with 3.3 million unit shipments.

After the introduction of wrist bands into the Indian market, 2020 has been the first year when the category reported a decline.

The increasing popularity of watches at similar price points to that of wristbands is the main factor of the decline of wristbands.

With 46.7 per cent of the share, Xiaomi continued to lead the category in 2020. realme, which entered the segment in 2020 finished second with a 12.3 per cent category share.

Watches grew significantly as demand for wrist bands declined during the year.

Watches saw a 139.3 per cent YoY growth with 2.6 million unit shipments in 2020.

Smartwatches, which can run third-party applications on the device itself, accounted for a 24.5per cent share in the watch category, and Apple continues to lead the smartwatch category with a 51.0% share in 2020.

Samsung with its portfolio including JBL, Harman Kardon, Infinity finished second with a 14.5 per cent share in 2020.

BoAt led the TWS segment with a 24.6 per cent share, followed by realme with a 13.5 per cent share in 2020.

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Business

IndiGo to commence ops to Bareilly from April

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IndiGo-Airways

To strengthen its regional reach airline major IndiGo will commence operations to Bareilly from April.

Accordingly, the city will become the 67th domestic destination in its network.

The airline said it will connect Bareilly to Mumbai and Bengaluru through direct flights, effective April 29, 2021.

According to Sanjay Kumar, Chief Strategy and Revenue Officer, IndiGo: “Identified in the Prime Minister’s ambitious 100 smart city plan, Bareilly has a huge potential for setting up industries in the city. This vision will be amply supported by enhanced connectivity, thereby promoting tourism, trade, and commerce in the region.”

In addition, the airline said post securing all regulatory approvals and specific flight schedules for Bareilly, IndiGo will soon take the overall number of domestic destinations in the 6E network to 68 by opening its last destination, Rajkot, in the coming months.

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