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Process to set up 5th finance panel initiated, Delhi High Court told

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New Delhi: The Delhi government on Thursday told the high court here that the process of constituting the 5th Finance Commission has been initiated and the entire procedure would be completed within four months.

A division bench of Chief Justice G. Rohini and Justice Jayant Nath was told that a proposal has been sent to its urban development department for the constitution of the 5th Finance Commission.

The commission will review the financial position of the municipalities and make recommendations regarding sharing of net proceeds of taxes, duties, tolls and fees levied by the city government.

The Delhi High Court on June 29 pulled up the AAP government for delay in the constitution of the 5th Finance Commission and for “sleeping over” implementation of recommendations of the 4th panel.

On implementation of the recommendations of the 4th finance commission, the city government said Rs.855.31 crore has been given to the three MCDs till June.

It also said the urban development department has taken the views of all stakeholders and further steps will be taken after receiving appropriate orders from the competent authority.

The court was hearing a PIL filed by NGO Campaign for People Participation in Development Planning last month, seeking direction to “immediately release adequate funds” to the municipalities, in the wake of protest by the worker over non-payment of salaries.

The NGO, represented by advocate Anil K. Aggarwal, has also moved an application to restrain Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung from “utilising” the consolidated fund of the national capital till the share of the municipalities is disbursed from it.

The court sought response from the Delhi government on the application and listed the matter for further hearing on August 6. (IANS)

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Delhi HC asks TRAI if compensation is the only solution for call drops

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New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Thursday asked the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) whether its order making it mandatory for cellular operators to compensate subscribers for call drops was the “only solution” to reduce call drops.

A division bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Jayant Nath asked if the sector regulator if it had considered all the objections raised by the telecom operators before passing the October 16 order.

The objection of the service provider does not reflect on the measures taken. Where is the application of mind? Was it the only solution?” the bench asked as it heard the plea of telecom operators for a stay on TRAI’s compensation policy for call drops, under which a rupee will be credited to the mobile users’ account for every call drop (restricted to three per day) starting January 1, 2016.

Earlier, TRAI had told the court that it will not take coercive steps against telecom companies for not complying with the call drop compensation norms till January 6.

On Thursday, the court did not pass any interim order saying if service providers begin compensating consumers for call drops as, per the new TRAI regulations, it won’t be possible to recover them if the rule was set aside in future.

Additional Solicitor General PS Narasimha, appearing for TRAI, said the order was taken after consumers began getting regular call drops. He said the telecom companies have not made enough investment on technology and infrastructure which could prevent call drops.

In the first quarter of 2015, about 25,787 crore outgoing call were made, out of which in 200 crore cases of call drops were encountered by consumers. This is 0.77 percent of all call made, Narasimha told the court adding that service provider made about Rs.36,781 crore during the period.

He further clarified that call drop compensation is applicable only when it has occurred from the call originator’s network.

We treated the compensation as a nominal penalty so that they fall in line. That’s why we kept it at only three calls. But consumers are asking to be compensated for all call drops,

Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for the telecom operators, argued that under the Quality of Service regulations, two percent of call drops are exempted. He also said that most cases of call drops were not because of the fault of the service providers as they have been facing difficulties in setting up new towers due to opposition from various fronts.(IANS)(Picture Courtesy: www.topnews.in)

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