Ola announces its plans to begin operations in New Zealand

Ola, one of India’s largest ride sharing platform, on Tuesday, announced its plans to enter New Zealand.

Founded in 2011, Ola serves as many as a billion rides annually in India, Australia and the UK.

To build Ola’s presence locally, Brian Dewil has been appointed as Country Manager for New Zealand.

According to Bhavish Aggarwal, Co-Founder and CEO at Ola, we see a real opportunity in New Zealand to provide a fair alternative in the rideshare space for both customers and drivers.

He further said that the company has invested in understanding the New Zealand customer and devised the right strategy to meet their transport needs

“We are the rideshare brand that cares and are looking forward to creating high quality transport experiences for both passengers and drivers in New Zealand,” Aggarwal added.

Ola’s launch into New Zealand follows its successful launch in Australia in February 2018 and the UK in August 2018.

“Kiwis have had too little choice when it comes to rideshare. Ola’s arrival will create a compelling experience that puts the quality of rides first. I’m excited to build the local team and business in New Zealand and provide a healthy contribution to the nation’s local mobility infrastructure,” said Brian Dewil, Country Manager NZ at Ola.

Pakistan responsible for terror offences in Afghanistan: Indian ambassador to UN

Syed Akbaruddin, India’s ambassador and permanent representative to the United Nations (UN), on September 17 making an veiled attack on Pakistan said that terror offences in Afghanistan are perpetrated by those harboured in safe havens in the country’s ‘neigbourhood’. He said this during a UN Security Council Open Debate on ‘The Situation in Afghanistan’.

Indian envoy said that the terror groups, like Taliban and the LeT are aided by Pakistan, continue to pursue military operations, perpetrating violence in several parts of Afghanistan.

 “Taliban, aided by their supporters, continue to pursue military ops, perpetrating violence over several parts of Afghanistan. These offences are planned and launched by those harboured in safe havens in neigbourhood of Afghanistan,” Indian envoy Akbaruddin said.

He further added, “These sanctuaries have, for years, provided safety for dark agendas of ideologically and operationally fused terror networks like Taliban, Haqqani network, Daesh, Al Qaeda and its prescribed affiliates Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed.”

During the debate India also called for crippling the illicit drug trade which provides financial sustenance to these terror outfits. “By some estimates, 60% of the Taliban’s revenues are from the drug trade. Poppy cultivation is said to be the largest cash crop in Taliban-controlled areas,” he added.

While extending support to Afghanistan in its fight against terrorism, he said “India stands ready to support Afghanistan in every way we can. Our focus remains on the economic pillar of stability and reliable connectivity for the people of Afghanistan. We strongly believe that lack of connectivity directly impacts the economic, security and political situation in Afghanistan and we want to address this crucial issue for the benefit of the Afghan people.”

Odisha government launches ‘Star Rating’ system for industries to curb air pollution

The Odisha government on September 17 launched a ‘Star Rating’ system for industries to strengthen State Pollution Control Board’s (SPCB) regulatory efforts to reduce pollution.

The initiative is the first-of-its-kind in the state, to ensure transparency in compliance to pollution standards to reduce air pollution.

The programme is launched by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, and will rate the industries from 1 to 5 based on their efforts to meet the standards set by SPCB.

During the launch Chief Minister Patnaik said that the project is a joint effort of SPCB and Energy Policy Institute of the University of Chicago.

“The Star- Rating Program is an excellent example of the 3T framework Teamwork, Transparency and Technology. This programme will help the public to find out whether industries in their vicinity are fair in their environmental compliance and empower them to strengthen regulations through public participation,” CM added.

Michael Greenstone, the Milton Friedman Professor in Economics and Director of EPIC and the Tata Centre for Development at Chicago, said “The Odisha star rating programme is a pioneering initiative which will help citizens identify the sources of pollution in their neighborhood and empower them to help ensure that industries comply with existing Indian laws.”  

The chief minister while encouraging the industries to be part of the initiative said, “I convey my best wishes to all the industries of Odisha and invite them to be a part of this Star-Rating Programme to make Odisha a clean and green State and support healthy and sustainable growth.”

Congress denies reports of Maken resigning as Delhi Chief

The Congress on Tuesday denied reports that Delhi Congress committee chief Ajay Maken has resigned.

The party said in a statement that he has some health issues and has gone for a check-up and will be back soon.

Party incharge of Delhi affairs PC Chacko said, “Maken has some health problem and he has gone for a check-up. He will be back next week.”

Chacko further said, once Maken is back in India, they will like to design a working -arrangement so that the Congress leader can continue to be the Delhi party president.

Maken, who replaced Arvinder Singh Lovely as Delhi Congress chief three years ago, had resigned earlier when the party did not perform well in civic polls.

However, the party leadership had asked him to stay in his post.

Maken is currently in abroad for treatment. He has been a two-times MP and three times MLA. Maken was a union minister when the Congress was in power at the centre 

Russian IL-20 aircraft with 14 aboard goes missing from radar

A Russian IL-20 military aircraft with 14 servicemen on board went missing from radar over the Mediterranean Sea on Monday.

According to the reports, “On Monday at about 11 p.m. (Moscow time), the communication with the crew of the Russian IL-20 aircraft was lost when it was over the Mediterranean Sea, some 35 kilometers from the Syrian coast, on its way back to Hmeymim airbase,”

Sources says that the plane disappeared during the Israeli attack.

“Missiles were fired from the sea at numerous locations in the Syrian coastal city of Latakia, but were intercepted by air defences,” said by Syrian state media on Monday.

The search and rescue operation have been launched by the Hmeymim airbase.

Further details are awaited.

Jammu and Kashmir: CRPF jawan injured in millitant attack in Pulwama

Representational Image

A Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) jawan was injured on Tuesday, in a militant attack in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama district.

According to the officials, militants opened fire on personnel at the CRPF camp at Newa in Pulwama.

The injured has been identified as Moyeen Khan, official said.

The incident took place at about 1.30 am on Tuesday.

As per the sources, the militants are hiding in the same village after the attack and search operations are underway.

The area had been cordoned off by security agencies, including the Army, to track down the militants, the official said. 

Supreme Court revokes ban on sale of Saridon, two other drugs

Representational Image

The Supreme Court has temporarily revoked the ban imposed on the sale of Saridon and two other drugs after the government had banned 328 combination drugs last week.

The apex court order comes in wake of a petition filed by the drug makers.

A SC bench of Justice Rohinton Nariman and Justice Indu Malhotra temporarily allowed the sale of Saridon, and two other drugs after the drug makers and pharma associations challenged recent notification issued by the Centre prohibiting the manufacture and sale of 328 Fixed Dose Combinations (FDCs) drugs.

SC allows the sale of Piramal Healthcare’s Saridon, GlaxoSmithKline’s Piriton and Juggat Pharma’s Dart.

Major pharma companies while challenging the centre’s decision claimed that the only reason given in the government’s notification was that the combination had “no therapeutic value”. They argued in the court that they are making the medicines since 1980s.

The apex court said the stay on the centre’s notification, banning these three drugs, remains till it decides on the issue.

The SC, however, did not grant any relief to the other medicines falling in the list of 328 FDC drugs, which were recently banned by the Health Ministry.

The Health Ministry’s decision was based on the country’s top drug advisory body, the Drug Technical Advisory Board.

Pharma C&F agents charge Torrent Pharmaceuticals & Elder Pharmaceuticals with multi-crore fraud, cheating

It is alleged that Torrent in connivance with Elder Pharmaceuticals Limited, a company currently into liquidation, indulged into a multicrore economic fraud whereby defrauding many operational an other creditors including 17 Clearing and Forwarding (C&F) agents of their legitimate dues.

Giving their side of story to Tehelka, the 17 C&F agents alleged that the two companies in a most systematic and organised manner, committed a multicrore financial fraud whereby Torrent Pharmaceuticals Limited acquired almost the entire business of Elder Pharmaceuticals Limited and rendered the said company as merely a shell company. It is alleged that before the said acquisition took place Torrent Pharma was aware of the admitted pending liabilities of Elder Pharma and with the intent to siphon huge sums of money, running into several hundred crores, both companies connived to defraud several operational creditors of Elder Pharma.

To carry forward the said fraud both companies executed a Business Transfer Agreement (BTA) on December 13, 2013 and allegedly in the hindsight of the said agreement the entire business of Elder was transferred to Torrent rendering Elder as barely a shell company with no assets but huge liabilities. The 17 C&F agents were initially C&F agents of Elder Pharmaceuticals and had deposited between 25 lakhs to one crore each as refundable security deposit with the said company and their respective C & F agreements were valid upto March 31, 2015.

On the date of execution of the Business Transfer Agreement with Torrent Pharmaceuticals Limited, each of said C & F agents had huge admitted money to recover from Elder Pharma which included dues towards commission, expenses interest etc. C&F agents allege that during the time of execution of BTA, they (the C&F agents) were misguided and befooled by the officials of Elder Pharma who represented that upon execution of some Novation Deed with Torrent) by Elder Pharma, which was signed by all C & F Agents and supplied back to Elder for its execution by Torrent.

However, upon conclusion of the Business Transfer and exchange of consideration between the two companies, Torrent did not sign the Novation deed with the C&F Agents and the C & F agents were made to believe that signin or not signing the Novation deed is the discretion of Torrent and nothing could be done about the same.

Torrent in its unilateral representation before the Competition Commission of India got an approval from the said Commission against the Business Transfer (Combination). The C&F agents allege that Torrent made false representations before the Competition Commission and by playing a fraud misguided Competition commission to pass an order approving the Business Transfer.

The C&F agents under the misguided belief and understanding continued to chase Elder Pharma for their pending dues and in this regard initiated arbitration proceedings and other ancillary proceedings against the Elder. Even an Order was passed by the Bombay High Court, directing Elder to furnish a bank guarantee against the dues of the C & F Agents. That during the proceedings before the Bombay High Court, Elder maintained the stance that the dues were a liability of Elder Pharma however in the arbitration proceedings, it was for the first time that Elder indicated that Torrent was liable to discharge all liabilities of C&F Agents which accrued prior to and during the execution and conclusion of the BTA. Surprisingly, despite several orders passed by Arbitral Tribunal directing Elder to supply copy of BTA to C&F Agents, the same was not supplied and on one pretext or the other Elder Pharma evaded and avoided to supply the BTA to C & F Agents.

Allegedly as planned, within few months later Elder Pharma collapsed and slipped into liquidation resulting in stalling of all legal proceedings initiated by the C&F Agents against Elder.

The C&F agents claim that until, April 2018 the C & F Agents were unaware of the explicit terms of the BTA, the Novation Deed forming Part of BTA and the Escrow agreement, which BTA and other ancillary documents were deliberately and consciously concealed by Torrent and Elder Pharma. The C & F  Agent were able to get their hands on the BTA and other documents in April 2018 and the illegal role and modus operendi of Torrent came into light. It was learnt for the first time that Torrent had acquired the business on “SLUMP SALE BASIS” and it was under a mandatory obligation to continue the C & F business with the 17 C & F agents and execute the Novation Deed which formed part of the BTA. For all purposes, including obligation to discharge liability, Torrent had stepped into the shoes of Elder Pharma and was under a mandate of law to release the legitimate pending outstanding of the 17 C & F Agents.

As alleged, the hide and seek game of Torrent was over after discovery of the BTA by the C & F Agents, who are now aggressively pursuing the matter against Torrent and as informed are in process of filing complaints before the Economic Offence Wing of Police and also complaint to Serious Fraud Investigation office. The C & F Agent allege that in a well-designed conspiracy between the top brass of both companies and with the intention of siphoning dues of Operational Creditors, the much kept secret BTA was executed, without its terms being made known to concerned creditors and in a systematic manner Elder was deliberately pushed into liquidation with the malafide intentions to deliberate a huge multi crore fraud. After acquiring the Business of Elder Pharma, Torrent not only wiped out competition for itself but made multi fold gains by not discharging liabilities of the Business it acquired specifically the dues of the operational creditors including the C & F Agents. Allegedly in its adventure to make big fortunes, Torrent ignored and denied various requests of Elder Pharma to pay off the C & F Agents from the money lying in the ESCROW Account maintained by both companies post execution of BTA. Torrent out rightly defied the terms of the Escrow Agreement between the two companies which provided that pursuant to an order of the Court if any unsecured creditors amount is required to be paid both Torrent Pharmaceuticals and Elder Pharmaceuticals were obligated to jointly instruct the Escrow Agent to release the said amounts to the unsecured creditor. That in the case of C & F agents, the High Court had passed an explicit order for furnishing the bank guarantee, which order ought to have been complied by Torrent. However, having succeeded in keeping the terms of the BTA and other ancillary agreements under wrap, Torrent evaded the said obligation too. After discovery of the BTA it was further learnt by the C & F agents that Torrent furnished a forged and fabricated copy of the Novation Deed before the Competition Commission, which novation deed is materially different from the one which was circulated amongst the C & F Agents. It is believed that in order to secure a favourable Order from  the Competition Commission of India,such illegality was played by Torrent. The C & F agents believe that they have only discovered tip of the ice berg and their lies a mountain ofF fraud perpetrated by both the companies to cheat numerous similarly placed individuals, firms and companies who were the creditors of Elder pursuant to and during the transfer of the business of Elder to Torrent. The C & F agents believe that the matter requires thorough investigation by a specialised agency like CBI, SFIO or EOW to unearth the modus operandi and the magnitude of fraud relating to the so called business transfer of one company to the other. The C & F also raise a question of public importance “could a business of a company be allowed to be transferred without securing its liability and ensuring that its liabilities to its creditors are first met in totality?”

Tehelka sent a questionnaire to key persons at Torrent Pharmaceuticals Limited -Sudhir Mehta, Samir Mehta and Ashok Modi on July 9, 2018 and on July 27, Executive Director, Jayesh Desai sent the following reply:

Mr Ahuja,

This has reference to your letter dated 9th July 2018, received by us on 24th July 2018 (copy enclosed for reference).

Our reply to your above referred letter is as under.

Elder had appointed various C&F Agents for distributing its pharmaceutical formulations in India. It is alleged by these C&F Agents that their commission, security deposits, etc. payable under such arrangement with Elder has been outstanding and that Elder has failed to pay the same. It is clear in the Business Transfer Agreement (BTA) as well as the draft novation deed annexed to the said BTA that outstanding dues of the C&F Agents would be settled by Elder and that the liabilities till the closing date i.e. 29th June 2014, will not get transferred to Torrent. Further, please note that the obligation to obtain novation of C&F Agent’s agreement was solely that of Elder.

We would like to inform you that the said C&F Agents had also initiated arbitration proceedings against Elder and Hon’ble High Court of Mumbai in the Arbitration Petition No. 864 of 2015 of M/s. Pharma Traders & others had pronounced a judgment dated October 29, 2015. It is evident from the judgement that the liability of Elder towards the outstanding dues of the C&F Agents is not even disputed.

It is also evident that neither Elder nor C&F Agents has impleaded Torrent Pharma as a party to such legal proceedings or have stated that liability of such outstanding dues is of Torrent Pharma.

In respect of the Escrow Account referring to the Bombay High Court Order, it was a separate order which was for setting aside amount against claims of specified unsecured creditors and not against all unsecured creditors. The letter from Elder therefore to this extent was neither relevant nor in accordance with the terms of the Escrow Agreement.

Further, the material facts which the said C&F Agents are alleging to be misrepresented and concealed before CCI by Torrent Pharma, are a baseless contention.

From the aforesaid facts, you would appreciate that the allegations raised are only frivolous and baseless in nature.

Jayesh Desai
Executive Director

As some questions remained unanswered, Tehelka asked Torrent to reply and the company confirmed that Deed of Novation was part of BTA:

Dear Mr Ahuja

This has reference to your mail dated 31st July 2018. Our response is as under:-

1. Is Deed of Novation, an integral part of the BTA dated December 13, 2013 signed by you and Elder Pharma
“The draft version of Novation deed was part of the BTA”

2. The Deed of Novation was signed by the Director of Elder Pharma (Original Party) and sent to all their C&F’s (Counter Parties) who in turn signed and returned to Elder Pharma for signatures of Torrent (Acceding party). You were obligated to sign the Deed as per terms of BTA, Did you sign the Deed of Novation, if not, why?
As per the conditions of BTA, Elder was obligated to get the Novation deed signed from CFA by a particular date. Since the condition was not met, we were not obligated to pursue the same further.

3. Apart from Deed of Novation, a separate letter dated December 13, 2013 was issued for concerned authorities as an integral part of BTA and signed by you and Elder Pharma. Are you aware of the contents of this referred letter?
We would be able to comment once we see the contents of the letter you are referring.

Warm Regards
Jayesh Desai

Tehelka supplied to Torrent Pharmaceuticals, a scanned copy of the letter dated December 13, 2013 which was an integral part of BTA and signed by both Torrent and Elder as asked by Torrent. Torrent replied as follows:

Dear Mr Charanjit Ahuja,

We are aware of this letter. However, the same was subject to certain obligations on the part of the seller, details of which we have provided in response to your question number 2.

Jayesh Desai


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PU shows frailty thy name is not woman!

It is a watershed moment because it is for the first time that a girl candidate has become President of Panjab University Students Council. Being product of Panjab University myself, I understand that her election win is very significant as it is symbolic of changing direction in gender equations. Surely, the win would not be confined to PU campus but would have reverberations across the nation. In the process she defeated the candidates of the BJP, the Shiromani Akali Dal, the Indian National Lok Dal and the Congress. Her victory is rebuff to the hitherto male-dominated kakashahi brand of politics in PU. Kanupriya said, “I do not have a moustache to twirl, but by winning the top post, I have shattered few myths.” In her first statement after victory, Kanupriya had asked the vice-chancellor to not interfere with the Student Council’s work.

Kanupriya’s father, Pawan Kumar is a businessman and mother Chandar Sudha Rani is a nurse. Kanupriya has done her schooling from Sacred Heart Convent School, Tarn Taran. She joined the Zoolog Department of Panjab University in 2014 and is currently pursuing her MSc. She won convincingly by getting 2,802 votes against her opponent Rana from the University Institute of Legal Studies getting 2,083 votes.

A candidate of the Students For Society (SFS), a new outfit, Kanupriya won the hearts with her hostel-to-hostel and face to face canvassing. She never misses a chance to raise her voice for gender equality. Little doubt, voters chose her and campaigned for her without falling in the trap of temptations of booze parties, outings and gifts. The fact that she defeated five male candidates who contested with the support of ABVP, Panjab University Students Union (PUSU), Students Organisation of India (SOI), Punjab Students Union and National Students Union of India depicts the changing mood.

The change is an indicator of the emerging women power at the Panjab University where girls despite their numerical majority and achieving excellence in academics and sports had to play second fiddle. Already, Kanupriya has proved it in her maiden act by forcing the authorities to take off the notice pasted in Girls’ Hostel No. 1, which mandated girls to be “properly dressed”.

Women power

The controversial notice said, “This is to inform all residents of Girls’ Hostel No. 1 that they should be properly dressed while going to the common room, the dining hall, hostel, or office, failing which it will be considered an offence and fine may be imposed.” Kanupriya, the newly elected president of the PU Students Council asked the girls whether they should tear the notice. She asked the Dean, Students Welfare (Women), Prof Neena Caplash, that no such notice had been put up for teachers or hostel inmates anywhere else. She further questioned: “Why this is being imposed on girl inmates of PU hostels and not in boys’ hostels.”She argued that this only shows the patriarchal mindset of authorities. The Dean then agreed to take the notice off

‘Achhe Din’ at PU

The PU results are a pointer to better times not to be confused with the rhetoric of “achhe din”. However, a large number of youngsters opting for NOTA in this poll is also an indicator of the mood. Since the Panjab University has been the alma mater of several top political figures including former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, the parties should take note of the undercurrent against their candidates in this election to the student’s council.

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Who is shielding ‘rapist’ Bishop?

CHORUS IS GROWING to arrest Bishop, Franco Mulakkal, with nuns taking to streets questioning who is shielding the alleged rapist. An FIR had been registered against the Catholic Bishop of Jalandhar long back on June 28 after a nun belonging to the order of Missionaries of Jesus alleged that the Bishop raped her 13 times since 2014. In a recent letter to the Vatican’s India representative, the nun said that the bishop was using all the money and power at his disposal to derail the case and buy his way out of the charges. Sadly, even after almost 80 days, the accused has not been arrested and now only summoned to appear before police in Kerala on September 19.

The victim has alleged that she sought help of Delhi Archbishop Anil Couto and George Alencherry, head of the Kochi-based Syro-Malabar Church, but the clergy did nothing. In fact Bishop Mulakkal has been shaming the victim time and again on national television channels and newspapers claiming that the rape complaint against him is a sign of revenge for taking action against the victim. He has been making allegations against the victim and maligning her reputation. A motor mouth MLA from Poonjar, P.C.Geroge has also made deplorable comments about the nun calling her “prostitute” who “enjoyed 12 times and on the 13th time charged it is rape”. The law maker had the audacity to say that “if it was rape why she failed to lodge a complaint the first time?” The Missionaries of Jesus Congregation instead of supporting the nun, supported the bishop and alleged that the nun had “questionable relations with a local taxi driver and with a relative’s husband’’. They also alleged she attended an event with Bishop Mulakkal the day after the alleged rape.

It is not a complaint by one nun but four more nuns have come out in her support and joined protests in Kerala to press for action. While nun 1 alleged that she was raped by the Bishop 13 times, nun 2 alleged that the Bishop touched her inappropriately, nun 3 has alleged that Bishop took advantage of his exalted position, nun 4 alleged that Bishop hugged her forcefully while nun 5 wrote to Cardinal against Bishop. Today, Church is facing crisis of credibility! It is clear case where her own institution is shaming her. Well if Bishop claims that he is innocent, why doesn’t he face probe? Is Bishop bigger than law of the land? Forget the police, even the Church has refused to take action, thereby, rendering its credibility to doubt. It should come clean or else followers would stop believing in religious institutions. It is a moment of Truth for the Catholic Church!