News digest: SC welcomes Aadhaar, Tata Trusts succession plan and more

SC upheld constitutional validity of Aadhaar card, but with caveats

The Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld the constitutional validity of the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016, but curbed the scope of the controversial biometric identity project by diluting several of its provisions.

A five-judge Constitution Bench presided over by Chief Justice Dipak Misra ruled that Aadhaar would not be mandatory for opening bank accounts and getting mobile connections. But the 12-digit unique identity number would remain mandatory for filing income tax returns and availing of subsidies and benefits under various schemes of the the government, according to the majority judgment. Read more 

Succession planning at Tata Trusts: In a first, firm may get vice-chairman

The $103-billion Tata group is learnt to be chalking out a succession plan, and a decision is expected within months. The exercise might reflect a continuity and cohesion between Tata Sons and Tata Trusts, sources indicated. 

Tata Trusts, which controls 66 per cent in the group’s holding company, Tata Sons, is chaired by Ratan Tata, while N Chandrasekaran was appointed Tata Sons chairman in January 2017. 

The chairman of both Tata Sons and Tata Trusts remained the same till the time Ratan Tata headed the group. Read more 

Govt raises import duties on 19 major items to curtail widening CAD

Nearly two weeks after announcing its plans to curb "non-essential" imports, the government on Wednesday raised import duties on 19 items, including consumer electronics, diamonds, jewellery, jet fuel and leather footwear, to curtail the widening current account deficit. The new tariffs come into effect from Wednesday midnight. 

The import of these 19 items cost Rs 860 billion in 2017-18, according to the finance ministry. This, however, constituted just 2.8 per cent of India's total import bill last financial year, raising question marks over the efficacy of the measure. 
“The hike in import duties on the identified non-essential items is likely to have a modest impact on curtailing the size of the current account deficit (CAD) in FY19,” said Aditi Nayar, principal economist at Icra. Read more 

Sebi seeks details of MFs' investment, exposure in debt-ridden IL&FS group

The Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) has sought details of investment and exposure in the debt-ridden Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services (IL&FS) group from major asset management companies (AMCs) and other financial institutions.

Sebi wrote to fund houses and other institutions on September 22, asking them to furnish information with respect to investments in IL&FS group companies in their portfolio, said an official.

These fund houses have been asked to specify their exposure in IL&FS and its associate entities. The details include portfolio management service name, registration number, and securities details such as maturity time, and amount invested along with the valuation as of date, based on market value, the official added. Read more 

Aditya Birla considers legal options to recover funds from IL&FS arms

The Aditya Birla Group, which invested in IL&FS’ group companies via its mutual fund and non-banking finance company arms, is considering legal options to recover its funds from the beleaguered group. While the Birla group’s non-banking finance company has already moved Delhi High Court to seek injunction against two road projects, the group plans to join the petition filed by IL&FS in the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) to recover debt.

While public sector banks have the highest exposure to IL&FS and its subsidiaries total debt of Rs 910 billion, the Birla group is among the largest private sector investors having debt exposure to IL&FS group across its NBFC and mutual fund arms. Data from Value Research shows that Aditya Birla MF, has across various schemes, an exposure of 
Rs 6 billion worth of debentures in IL&FS’ operating firms. Read more


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