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No tolerance for bad loan recovery, particularly from big defaulters:Nirmala Sitharaman

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New Delhi: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has so far attached assets worth Rs. 64,920 crore from 1,105 such defaulters under its scrutiny, according to Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, who stated on Friday that there has been “no leniency” in recovering bad loans from huge defaulters and that the process is ongoing.

The Finance Minister denied the Opposition’s allegation that loans to industrialists were waived under the Modi administration in a series of tweets on X.

The Opposition, which is accustomed to disseminating false information, falsely asserts that industrialists have had their loans “waiver”ed. It’s unfortunate that opposition leaders still can’t tell the difference between write-offs and waivers, even if they consider themselves to be “experts” in banking and the economy. Following the “write-offs” in accordance with RBI norms, banks actively work to recover non-performing loans. Furthermore, no industrialist’s debts have been “waiver”. Banks recovered more over Rs. 10 lakh crore from bad loans between 2014 and 2023, according to Sitharaman.

Approximately 1,105 bank fraud cases have been examined by the ED, and as a result, criminal proceeds totaling Rs. 64,920 crore have been attached. According to her, assets totaling Rs. 15,183 crore had been returned to Public Sector Banks (PSBs) as of December 2023. “The process of recovering bad loans is ongoing and has not been lenient, particularly with regard to large defaulters.”

She said that the balance sheets of both banks and corporations were under stress as a result of the previous administration’s abuse of the banking industry to benefit “cronies” through reckless lending and concealing real non-performing assets (NPAs). “Banks are no longer “NPA-laden nightmares”; instead, they are now “Pillars of Jan Kalyan.” We no longer have a “Twin Balance Sheet Problem,” but rather a “Twin Balance Sheet Advantage,” the speaker continued.

“Our government and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) implemented a number of measures, such the Asset Quality Review (AQR), that exposed hidden mountains of non-performing assets (NPAs) and stopped the use of accounting gimmicks to conceal them. The shameful legacy of the “Twin Balance Sheet” situation, which we inherited in 2014, was caused by reckless and imprudent loans during the Congress era, according to the finance minister.

According to her, getting bank loans during the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) administration frequently hinged more on strong contacts than a strong business plan. Before authorising these loans, “banks were forced to neglect proper due diligence and risk assessment,” the accuser stated.

According to her, the gross non-performing assets (NPAs) of PSB reached a peak of 14.6% in 2017–18, after banks’ full disclosure of their NPAs for loans made prior to 2014.

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She cited the opinions of former RBI governors Urjit Patel and Raghuram Rajan, who have expressed disapproval of the current administration, and claimed that the two leading figures in the Indian banking sector had also brought up the NPA crisis that the UPA regime had caused and had “openly exposed” the extent of the system’s degradation left by the previous administration.

Rajan, who took part in the ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ organised by @RahulGandhi, called the NPA crisis of the UPA era a ‘historic phenomena of irrational exuberance.’ Sitharaman quoted Patel as saying that PSB operations under the UPA experienced “a perennial shortcoming on account of bureaucratic inertia and political meddling.”

In order to curb the evergreening of bad loans and uncover hidden NPAs, the RBI launched a comprehensive AQR in 2015 under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. By March 2018, total NPAs had increased to Rs. 10,36,187 crore.

Because evergreening caused the majority of NPAs to be concealed on bank balance sheets, the gross nonperforming assets (NPAs) as of March 31, 2014, was Rs. 2,16,739 crore prior to the AQR. In order to restore the health of the banks, the government subsequently implemented a four-point plan known as recognition, resolution, recapitalization, and reforms. Even though banks were recapitalized for Rs. 3.10 lakh crore, as of March 2024, other reforms including the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) had addressed loans totaling more than ₹3.36 lakh crore.

“We tackled responsible lending, stress recognition and resolution, credit discipline, and enhanced governance through our reforms. Professional integrity and independence have taken the role of political meddling in banks. According to Sitharaman, the Banks Board Bureau (BBB) was established to facilitate an open process for choosing non-executive chairpersons and full-time directors.

“Our government issued a framework for the timely detection and investigation relating to large value bank frauds in 2015,” the speaker stated, providing specifics about the reforms made to the banking sector. For quicker recoveries, the Insolvency & Bankruptcy Code was introduced. Property belonging to fugitive economic offenders may be seized under the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act of 2018. The SARFAESI Act was modified to increase its efficacy. Banks have recovered ₹1.51 lakh crores through SARFAESI during the past five years.

The creation of stressed asset management verticals by PSBs for strict recovery, the separation of monitoring from sanctioning roles in high-value loans, the deployment of specialised monitoring agencies for effective monitoring of loans above ₹250 crore, and online end-to-end one-time settlement (OTS) platforms to ensure timely and better realisation were among the measures that helped strengthen banks.

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Sunita Kejriwal is requested by the Delhi High Court to remove Arvind Kejriwal’s court footage from social media.

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The wife of chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, Sunita Kejriwal, has been ordered by the Delhi High Court to remove a video of her husband speaking to a Delhi court from her social media accounts. The social media companies have also been ordered by the court to remove posts that contain links to the video.

In addition, the high court has sent notices to all parties involved in the PIL, which was filed by lawyer Vaibhav Singh, alleging that Kejriwal’s appearance before Delhi’s Rouse Avenue Court on March 28 violated the court’s regulations regarding video conferencing.

Among the five people requested to remove the social media posts is Sunita Kejriwal.

The court has set July 9 for the hearing.

On March 28, Arvind Kejriwal personally addressed Special Judge (PC Act) Kaveri Baweja after being brought before the court a second time after being arrested by the Enforcement Directorate in connection with the Delhi liquor policy case.

Sunita Kejriwal reposted the images after the audio and video recordings of the speech went viral on social media.

When films with comparable content are brought to their attention, the Delhi High Court ordered X, YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram to remove them.

The notice on the PIL filed by the Delhi-based attorney Vaibhav Singh was issued by a division bench made up of Justices Neena Bansal Krishna and Amit Sharma.

After he disregarded nine summonses from the Enforcement Directorate, Arvind Kejriwal was taken into custody on March 21 in relation to the excise policy fraud. Subsequently, the Delhi High Court affirmed the agency’s decision.

Later, Arvind Kejriwal petitioned the Supreme Court to overturn his arrest.

In order to enable Kejriwal to campaign for his Aam Aadmi Party during the Lok Sabha elections, the Supreme Court granted him temporary release in May for a period of 21 days.

On June 2, he turned himself in to the Tihar Jail officials per the Supreme Court’s directive.

The former bureaucrat Sunita Kejriwal had spent a great deal of time campaigning for the AAP during the Lok Sabha elections. But the party was unable to secure a single seat in the nation’s capital.

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“Attacking dreams of youth”: Priyanka Gandhi’s jab at the Centre in the context of the NEET-UG dispute

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Congresswoman Priyanka Gandhi Vadra criticised the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government on Friday, saying that it started “attacking the dreams of the youth as soon as it took oath,” in reference to the ongoing controversy surrounding the alleged irregularities surrounding the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET-Undergraduate) exams.

“As soon as the new BJP government took oath, it again started attacking the dreams of the youth,” Vadra remarked, taking aim at X. The complaints of 24 lakh students and their parents are totally disregarded by the haughty answer of Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan regarding the anomalies in the NEET exam results. Does the Minister of Education not recognise that the information is in the public domain?

The National Testing Agency (NTA) administered the exam on May 5 at 4,750 locations for around 24 lakh pupils. The exam is under investigation because of claims of compromised papers and debatable grace marks. The fact that 67 pupils, an exceptionally high percentage, achieved a perfect score of 720, raises concerns.

She further said that the administration was disregarding the youth. “The question is, by disregarding lakhs of young people and their parents, who in the system does the government hope to save?” Shouldn’t young people’s hopes cease to be offered up on the altar of this dishonest testing system?

Gandhi highlighted in her post that rather than dismissing concerns from parents and students, the government ought to listen to them carefully and take appropriate action. “The BJP government should abandon its ego and think seriously about the future of the youth and take measures to curb corruption in examinations,” she said.

Digvijay Singh, a Congress leader and former chief minister of Madhya Pradesh, has called for an investigation into the irregularities in the top medical exam and has suggested that the entire exam be cancelled.

“It is my demand that the entire examination be cancelled and rescheduled for a later date, along with a completely unbiased investigation into this matter under the recently passed legislation by the Parliament and the gravest penalties being meted out to the guilty,” Singh wrote on X.

Singh referred to it as the NEET-UG “scam” and described it as “extremely serious.”

The NEET (UG)-2024 fraud is a very significant matter. This is the massive nationwide version of the Madhya Pradesh Vyapam scandal, which not only calls into question the National Examination Agency’s (NTA) integrity but also demonstrates how flawed and corrupt it is. The nationwide scam by NTA in a significant exam like NEET conducted for admission to medical colleges raises questions on the entire credibility of the government and the examination agency, he continued, despite the Public Examinations (Prevention of Unfair Means) Bill 2024 being passed in Parliament in February 2024 and strict laws being enacted in this regard.

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“Should the government not seriously consider the following points?” he inquired further. How did the NEET exam paper leak in Patna on May 4, 2024, when the exam was scheduled for May 5? Additionally, why did the government do nothing when a FIR was filed on May 6 against those who were discovered in Patna? The exam’s registration date was set by NTA to take place between February 9 and March 9, 2024. This was later moved to March 16. What then was the rationale behind the one-day return of the online registration window on April 10?

On May 6, information of students collecting money to purchase the NEET question paper for ₹60 crore was reported in an Uttar Pradesh publication. Even so, how could the NTA describe these reports as unfounded in a press release on May 6, 2024, rather than acknowledging them? How come 67 students received all 720 marks out of 720 when the exam results were released in June 2024? In contrast, only 2 students received all 720 marks out of 720 in 2020, 3 in 2021, 0 in 2022, and 2 in 2023. In what way did the All India Rank-1 toppers’ count rise by  5625 per cent compared to last year? Isn’t this unexpected,” he also said.

On Thursday, the NTA notified the Supreme Court that it will be nullifying the results of 1563 applicants who obtained “grace marks” in the NEET-UG examination. On June 23, these applicants will have the chance to repeat the test; the outcomes will be made public by June 30.

In addition, the NTA informed the bench of Justices Vikram Nath and Sandeep Mehta that a committee had been established to examine the outcomes of the applicants who received bonus points because of the challenges they encountered in the NEET-UG examination. “The Committee has made the decision to remove the grace marks from the scorecards of 1563 NEET-UG 2024 participants. These students will have the opportunity to retake the exam. The exam will be conducted on June 23 and the results will be declared before June 30,” it said.

Singh also questioned the fairness of the treatment of students who choose not to appear in court.

1,563 students who had received grace marks but had supplied different answers to the exams moved to court to resolve the issue. Therefore, did those pupils who were unable to access the courts not receive justice? How did eight students who took the exam at the same location in Jhajjar, Haryana, achieve a score of 720 out of 720? While one of these pupils did not pass the exam for the twelfth grade? He went on, “Why don’t any of these toppers in this centre have a last name?

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He also has concerns about the exam’s grace mark distribution. “How did eight students from this examination centre receive 720 out of 720 marks if Bihar Police had looked into an examination centre in Hazaribagh, Jharkhand, on suspicion of irregularities and NTA had denied a paper leak?” And how did a few students at this centre receive grades of 716, 718, and 719? Which formula was used to determine the pupils’ scores of 718 and 719? Because a student can receive up to 715 marks for a single incorrect answer, as per the stated formula, if they answer a question incorrectly, their 4 marks will be decreased and they will receive a minus marking of 1 mark.

Singh made fun of the centre by claiming that students from Jharkhand, Odisha, and Karnataka selected Gujarat as their centre. A day prior to the exam, he further stated that the paper was leaked on the instant messaging service Telegram.

Why did the NTA deny any misconduct in the face of this evidence? Why didn’t the government investigate the claims that students in Gujarat were bribing an international education consultant between ₹20 and ₹25 lakhs? Why were English-language question papers handed to Hindi-language students at a Sawai Madhopur, Rajasthan, testing centre? The Honourable Supreme Court has questioned the validity of NEET and has mandated that 1563 candidates who received grace marks on June 23, 2024, take the exam again.This will not benefit those students who could not go to court,” he added.

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Violence in Manipur: Two abandoned Meitei houses in Jiribam are set on fire by a mob

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Imphal: In a different instance in Jiribam, Manipur, where new violence broke out last week, two Meitei abandoned houses were purportedly set on fire in the small hours of Friday by unidentified miscreants.

This occurs in spite of the fact that more security forces have been stationed in the Jiribam district following the resurgence of unrest in the Manipur border district.

The incident happened on Friday morning in Bhutangkhal, which is under the Borobekra police station, according to the police. There were no recorded casualties during the event.

Manipur’s Jiribam district, which borders Assam, is a major centre for commerce. But on June 6, a new wave of violence broke out when the beheaded body of a missing individual was discovered, putting an end to business as usual in the region.

Thousands of residents have been forced to leave to safer locations in nearby Assam and other areas of the Jiribam district after more than 70 houses belonging to both communities have been completely destroyed so far.

According to district police, more security personnel have been stationed nearby to stop any unwelcome events from happening. Additional security personnel are keeping an eye on critical areas, including Manipur Police and central forces.

The All Jiribam Muslim Welfare Society (AJMWS) limited the district’s Eid-ul-Adha celebration’s amusement and recreational opportunities in light of the current circumstances in Jiribam.

According to an announcement from the AJMWS, the decision was made during a society meeting that took place on Friday in Sonapur, Jiribam.

The AJMWS announced that Eid-ul-adha Namaz will be served at the separate Masjids of the neighbourhood, prohibiting large-scale prayer gatherings for condolences at the Eidgah of Jiribam’s Muslim neighbourhoods.

During the conference, it was also determined to limit all forms of pleasure and recreation related to the Eid-ul-Adha festival in Jiribam, with the exception of the holiday’s prayers and required activities.

Given the current state of affairs in Manipur, AJMWS has made the decision to conduct a special prayer on Eid day in hopes of bringing peace and normalcy back to the region as well as ensuring the souls of those who have lost their lives in the ongoing violence in Manipur rest in peace. Additionally, it pleaded with all of Jiribam’s Muslim brothers and sisters to refrain from making pointless motions throughout the region.

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