TNRERA to get head, members soon

Will make sure only persons of integrity are picked for the posts: official

The Tamil Nadu Real Estate Regulatory Authority (TNRERA), a body meant for protecting the interests of the consumers, is all set to get a chairperson and two members shortly.

The State government will, in a matter of days, announce the appointment of the chief and members, says an official in the Housing Department. A three-member selection committee, comprising a judge of the Madras High Court, is said to have completed its task of zeroing in on probable candidates for the three slots.

For the time being, Principal Secretary (Housing) [S. Krishnan] is functioning as the Authority. In December, B. Rajendran, a former judge of the High Court, was made chairperson of the Real Estate Appellate Tribunal, on the basis of the recommendation of Chief Justice Indira Banerjee.

Both RERA and the Tribunal will have jurisdiction over Andaman and Nicobar Islands too.

Responding to reports of pressure being exerted on the government to include representatives of the real estate industry in RERA, the official pointed out that the government itself had invited nominations from different sections of the society. At the same time, the authorities are also “conscious that only persons of integrity beyond question” and those who have “no financial interests” in the sector should be appointed to the Authority.

M. G. Devesahayam, civil society activist, who is often critical of the working of various standing commissions, said that unless the government picked up “independent professionals” for the TNRERA, the body would not function as a meaningful institution.

However, the government official, comparing the TNRERA with the Electricity Regulatory Commission and other bodies for human rights and women, said the former was closer to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI). It has got “extensive powers” including the power to order imprisonment, if one were to go by to Section 59 of the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016. “Certainly, it is not an advisory body, unlike the Commission for Women or the Human Rights Commission,” the official said.

Huge expectations

An urban planner, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said those who were going to be part of the Authority should be able to balance the interests of the consumers and those of the sector. “Already, the industry is struggling to overcome the lean phase that it has been going through on account of a variety of factors,” she said.

S. Ramaprabhu, secretary, southern centre of the Builders’ Association of India (BAI), said that while his organisation welcomed the establishment of the Authority, it did not want the new body to conduct itself as yet another “inspection cell” of the Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA) or the Directorate of Town and Country Planning (DTCP). “We will have no issues if the TNRERA functions with utmost transparency,” he said, urging the regulator to open offices in other cities of the State such as Coimbatore, Madurai and Tiruchi.

On the row over the temporary location of the Authority’s office on the premises of the CMDA, the official said that while the government was looking for a permanent site for the TNRERA, the ties between the Authority and the CMDA are not like the one between the regulator and the regulated, as the TNRERA has no jurisdiction over the CMDA. In that respect, the TNRERA is distinct from the Electricity Regulatory Commission.

Ref : The Hindu | Read More

TNSTC converts around 500 town buses into ordinary services

Following protests across the State against the bus fare hike, the State Government has announced a small reduction in fares with effect from Monday.

Apart from this, the government is also recategorising the bus services. The Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation (TNSTC), Coimbatore Limited, has converted about 498 limited stop service (LSS) and express service buses into ordinary services with immediate effect.

A release issued by the Managing Director of TNSTC said that the corporation is operating a total number of 722 town buses in the city daily. Of these, except 224 semi low floor category buses, others numbering about 498 were converted as ordinary services. This would benefit the passengers commuting in city buses on a daily basis. They can save extra money paid for buses categorised as LSS and Express services hereafter, an official in charge of commercial section said.

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New scheme for birth certificates

Applicant should provide details of mother’s medical record related to pregnancy

Very soon, the State Government will launch a scheme where for the issue of birth certificates, mother’s medical records related to pregnancy will be mandatory. The government has had a soft launch for the scheme and is testing the software for the purpose.

At the time of issue of birth records, the child’s family will have to furnish a RCH (Reproductive and Child Health) identity number, which the private or government hospitals will use to send the records to the local body concerned for issue of birth certificates.

Without the RCH identity number no birth certificate will be issued, say sources in the Coimbatore Corporation.

The number is generated when pregnant women go to private or government hospitals for their first consultation. In case of government hospitals, the authorities will get in touch with the government health nurse of the primary or urban health centre who caters to the area from where the pregnant is from.

Private hospital administration should also get in touch with the urban or rural health nurse concerned for the purpose.

The sources say that in case of delivery at a place other than their home town, the pregnant women will have to furnish the RCH identity number that they had obtained in the home town.

Since the entire system is computerised, upon entry of the identity number, the entire details of the pregnant women will be made available to the hospital concerned, they add.

The private or government hospitals will then have to furnish this number to the local body concerned for generation of the birth certificate, the sources say and add that the government has named it the civil registration system.

As for generation of RCH identity number for women from other states and women in migrant families, the government is working a solution, they add.

This civil registration system will ensure avoidance of error, duplication in birth certificates or furnishing of fraudulent details for obtaining a fake certificate.

The Coimbatore Corporation has held a meeting with sector health nurses from private hospitals on Saturday and is planning to hold a series of meetings at the zonal level before the official launch by the government in February.

Ref : The Hindu | Read More

Travelling by train cheaper now

The fares to several destinations from Coimbatore in trains are far below the ticket amount to be paid to Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation (TNSTC), following the recent hike in bus fares.

For instance, the rail fare for Pollachi from Coimbatore for passenger trains is Rs. 15, where as it is Rs. 25 in TNSTC. Before hike the TNSTC fare was just Rs. 17.

In a move to tap the potential, a railway official said that railways will cash-in on the favourable situation to accommodate more number of passengers on all the routes by adding coaches in passenger/express trains and also introducing special trains in a few sectors that are so far underutilised.

The fare for Madurai from Coimbatore via Pollachi is just Rs. 50 in passenger trains and it is Rs. 120 for Express trains operating in circuitous route (via Karur).

However, the fare for Madurai in TNSTC via Pollachi is Rs. 167.

In the days to come, low fares in railways will definitely attract more passengers daily for short distance travel for employment, another official said.

Ref : The Hindu | Read More

Consumer product distributors seek simplified norms for GST

Distributors of consumer goods and telecom products have sought simplified norms for complying with Goods and Services Tax (GST).

CH. Krishna, president of Federation of All India Distributors Association, who was here on Sunday for the silver jubilee celebrations of The Coimbatore Consumer Products Distributors’ Association, said, “We do 100 % invoicing for goods we procure from the manufacturers and make 10 % payments online to them. But we sell to small traders and not all have proper accounting,” he said.

About 90 % of the members of the federation have registered with GST. The Government should simplify the norms so that more members start complying with the new norms.

Regarding FDI in single brand retail, he said the government is indirectly encouraging investments by Multi-National Companies in Indian trade.

The federation has opposed this move and has urged the Government to look at long-term development.

Many traders are unskilled and they will be affected. “We strongly oppose the FDI. But, we are also training our members and equipping them to face the challenges,” he said.

Ref : The Hindu | Read More

 

LIC not to seek Aadhaar details for online access

Top official of the insurance firm says it was inadvertently done

The Life Insurance Corporation of India on Friday said they will remove the mandatory requirement of providing Aadhaar number for customers to access their policy pages, saying it was “inadvertently done”.

The move comes after The Hindu on Thursday pointed out how the insurance company was forcing people to update their Aadhaar number and PAN on their login page to access their policy pages and other details.

Replying to an email sent to the Chairman on Thursday, the Executive Director Corporate Communications, LIC, said the earlier website was available without requesting the Aadhaar number.

“Subsequent to the migration to a new portal, the LIC has planned to extend the range of facilities offered to our customers online,” the Executive Director said.

“Keeping in mind that data security and privacy are of paramount importance and also abiding by the Regulator’s directives, we have sought additional information from the customer to establish his online credentials. In the process, seeking of Aadhaar number, PAN details mandatorily was inadvertently done,” the official said.

The official added that the issue has been escalated with their technical team and “we will be removing the requirements of the mandatory providing of Aadhaar number and PAN”. However, the official has not specified a date by which this would be done.

Like a firewall

The mandatory requirements on the site acted like a firewall preventing access to a customer’s policy pages if they didn’t provide the Aadhaar number and PAN details. Legal experts feel that the move is in violation of the Supreme Court interim order extending the deadline of customers providing Aadhaar number for services to March 31. Subsequent to this interim order, the Insurance Regulatory Development Authority of India (IRDA) issued a circular to all insurance companies with the new deadline.

Many customers had raised objections regarding this move of LIC on Twitter. Some customers whom The Hindu spoke to had said they were forced to part with their Aadhaar number as they could not access their pages.

Keeping in mind that data security and privacy are of paramount importance, we sought additional information from the customer

Executive Director Corporate Communications, LIC

Ref : The Hindu | Read More

Now, Aadhaar mandatory to access LIC policy online

Raises questions about violation of SC orders and insurance regulator’s norms

Despite the government extending the deadline for linking Aadhaar to various services to March 31, 2018, many insurance companies are insisting that customers part with their Aadhaar details for accessing their services.

Principal among such insurers is the Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC), whose newly designed web portal requires mandatory registration of policy holders’ Aadhaar details to even access their own policy pages. It also seems to be the first instance of its kind when access to a web page is denied for want of Aadhaar details.

If a customer doesn’t update his or her Aadhaar number upon signing in, they will not be able to move to their policy page to access their payment history, policy documents or any other details on the LIC’s website. LIC’s insistence on Aadhaar to even access the policy page on its website violates the spirit of both the Supreme Court’s orders and the insurance regulator’s circular on the deadline, say legal experts. “This is worse than a paywall. It is an act of coercion,” said a leading lawyer who didn’t wish to be identified. The Prevention of Money Laundering (Seventh Amendment) Rules, 2017, extending the Aadhaar deadline to the end of March, was notified on December 13. Following this, the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) issued a notification to that effect.

Users complain

Several people who spoke to The Hindu said they were unable to log on to their own profile page to access their insurance premium records on LIC’s website without linking their policies with their Aadhaar numbers.

Policy-holder Prasanto K. Roy said since he had to download his policy receipts, he had no other way out but to submit his Aadhaar number to access his account. R. Steve Wilfred too faced the same issue. “It was my mom’s LIC account. The Aadhaar and PAN details are not updated with LIC. But my sister did update her account to pay the premium,” Mr. Wilfred said.

When the issue was raised by The Hindu with a top official at LIC on Tuesday ,the official said he needed to consult with superiors on the issue and would revert in a day.

However, a day later no reply was received. An email to IRDA Chairman on Tuesday did not elicit a reply till the time of going to press.

Some other insurance companies are also turning a blind eye to the norm, claim many citizens who have faced such hurdles of late. This is not limited to life insurance, but is also seen among holders of health, motor and travel insurance policies as well.

Customers cite the IRDA guidelines that say that “the date of submission of the Aadhaar Number and Permanent Account Number or Form 60 by the clients to the reporting entity is 31st March, 2018 or six months from the date of commencement of account based relationship.” Yet, without any update being provided to them by their insurance companies, they are being forced to link Aadhaar even when the Supreme Court is yet to give a final decision on the issue, they say.

Ref : The Hindu | Read More

Now summons will be sent via SMS

The police, as part of the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network System (CCTNS), have launched the facility to serve summons to witnesses through Short Messaging Service (SMS) on mobile phones.

The state police successfully implemented the CCTNS mission mode project under National e-Governance programme in all the 1,913 FIR registering units of the Tamil Nadu police and could be accessed by the citizens through the TN police website (https://eservices.tnpolice.gov.in) or at Common Servicing Centres (CSCs).

Assistance

On receipt of the summons from the court for the appearance of witnesses, entries will be made in the CCTNS system developed by State Crime Record Bureau. The SMS will have details including name of the police station, crime number, name of the court where the witness has to appear, date and time of appearance and contact numbers of the police station to get assistance. Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami launched this facility recently.

Ref : The Hindu | Read More

Bar Council election under scanner

Advocate General wants to dissociate himself from process, fears it could be tainted by questionable practices

Advocate General Vijay Narayan has written to the Bar Council of India (BCI) accusing senior counsel S. Prabhakaran, “who styles himself as BCI co-chairman, a post not sanctioned by law” of attempting to thwart efforts to conduct free and fair elections to the Bar Council of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry (BCTP). The BCTP is now administered by a Special Committee.

Mr. Narayan, who is the ex-officio chairman of the Special Committee, said it would not be proper on his part to associate the office of the Advocate General “in an election which may be tainted by certain questionable practices”. He urged the BCI to decide whether it would be expedient to appoint a retired Madras High Court judge, in consultation with the Chief Justice, to oversee the entire electoral process.

“While I am prepared to carry out the day-to-day functions of the Bar Council… I would like to dissociate myself from the entire process of conducting the election,” he said in the letter addressed to BCI chairman Mannan Kumar Misra.

“I think that the advocates of Tamil Nadu have the right to know the true state of affairs,” the letter said.

Recalling past events, he said that many State-level bar councils, including the BCTP, were at present administered by special committees as there were delays in conducting elections for them due to various reasons.

‘Backdoor entry’

Around 52,000 advocates are members of the BCTP. The BCI initially nominated BCTP’s outgoing chairman D. Selvam and vice-chairman as members of the special committee.

Almost all other outgoing office-bearers were made members of an ad hoc committee. “I found this a little surprising since this appeared to be a backdoor entry for all the old bar council members,” the AG said.

However, all those nominees tendered resignations after the Madras High Court ordered that those who intend to contest in the forthcoming elections to the BCTP should not continue as committee members. Mr. Prabhakaran alone continued in office since he happened to be a member nominated by the BCTP to the BCI.

After the resignations, the BCI nominated senior counsel R. Singaravelan and advocate Chandrasekharan as members to the Special Committee. Mr. Narayan felt they were acting at the behest of Mr. Prabhakaran, “a candidate for the forthcoming election.”

‘Reforms needed’

The two advocates were nominated without consulting either him or the Chief Justice. Mr. Narayan said they were now thwarting attempts made by him to conduct the elections within the deadline fixed by the Supreme Court. He said that the two members had recently overruled his decision against delaying the elections to the BCTP.

Regulatory body

To have a regulatory body comprising reputed and honourable advocates is the need of the hour, he said.

He accused a vociferous minority of effectively stalling urgent reforms that is needed for the legal profession much to the detriment of the silent majority.

Judicial structure

“The entire judicial structure of the country is manned by persons who are drawn from only one source, namely lawyers, and unless systemic changes are made urgently, it does not bode well for the country itself,” Mr. Narayan said.

Ref : The Hindu | Read More

Big rush for jallikattu registration

Bull tamers lathicharged; over 1,000 register at Palamedu

With the jallikattu scheduled for Sunday and Monday respectively at Avaniyapuram and Palamedu in Madurai district, registration for bulls witnessed a huge turnout of youngsters, hailing not only from Madurai but many neighbouring districts as well, on the first day on Thursday.

At Palamedu, the district police had to resort to lathicharge in the morning as a swelling crowd, in their tussle to register at the earliest, broke some barricades erected near the registration area and created a stampede-like situation near the counters.

Several youngsters sustained injuries in the lathicharge. N. Rajapandi from Vadipatti, who had come to register for the event, alleged that the chaos was created by a rumour that only a limited number of bull tamers would be allowed to register. Officials from Vadipatti Taluk, who handled the registration, said a total of 1,188 persons registered on Thursday, while 312 were rejected by medical teams.

Basic check-up

“We had deployed people to fill up the forms for the bull tamers, who were asked to bring valid identity proofs. A medical team carried out a basic check-up, which included body mass index (BMI) and pressure,” an official said, adding that another round of thorough check-up, including that of checking whether the person is under the influence of alcohol, would be done just before the event.

At Avaniyapuram, however, no medical check-up was done during registration on Thursday since the turnout was relatively less than Palamedu. A total of 623 bull tamers registered there.

“Since the registration happened at Palamedu also on the same day, many had to choose between the two. We enrolled all those who came with a valid identity proof and in the age limit of 20 to 40. We omitted medical check-up since it will anyway happen before the event,” said an official from Madurai South Taluk, who handled the registration.

Registration of bulls was handled by personnel from the Department of Animal Husbandry at Avaniyapuram. A doctor associated with the department said,“A picture of the bull taken with its owner or handler has to be produced. On the day of jallikattu, the bull will be allowed to enter vaadivasal only if the accompanying person in the photograph is present,” he said, adding that 954 bulls were registered on Thursday. Another fitness check will be done for bulls prior to the event.

Registration for Alanganallur jallikattu, the most famous among the three places, scheduled for Tuesday, is yet to begin.

Ref : The Hindu | Read More