If the government is serious about increasing tax collections, it must work on the process of issuing Permanent Account Numbers (PAN) instead of splurging money on advertisements asking people to pay up their taxes. After eight years of using a certain PAN number, I find that the government website (incometaxindiaefiling.gov.in) has no records against my name and date of birth. Similarly, senior journalist and commentator Rahul Singh was issued two PAN numbers, but his request for a clarification as to which was the correct one elicited no response. But when he used one of them on a mutual fund application, he was promptly asked to explain why he had mentioned a wrong PAN number. A widow of a senior IAS officer has been struggling for a year to have a PAN card issued to her (although she was issued a number earlier). She has now been told to re-apply because there are errors in her application. Given the confusion, she wonders if a second application will lead to another PAN number and more problems.
The NSE has now stepped up pressure on the brokerage firm Indiabulls, to settle all investor complaints. Consequently, investors from Chennai to Gaziabad are receiving settlement offers; many have opted to settle, some are demanding higher compensation (not merely the principal amount) and one has even opted for arbitration proceedings and won. But the most curious case is that of Chennai investor S. Radhakrishnan. The case, reported in these columns earlier, is of an investor whose investment of his entire ESOP allotment and more through Indiabulls has vanished. The brokerage firm has ditched the investor, accusing him of speculation, but the investor’s wife Amruta Radhakrishnan, a Chennai lecturer, has been fighting a lone and dogged battle for justice. Ironically, Indiabulls refuses to even talk to Radhakrishnan on the advice of its lawyers, apparently because she dared to file a police complaint. While it is difficult to believe that a giant firm with endless resources seems scared of a lone lady investor, it is also a fact that S. Radhakrishnan’s claim of over Rs one crore is the highest among retail complaints.
It is strange how international companies that were first spotted by Dinesh Dalmia are such Indophiles that they look for Indian buyers. While the notorious Dinesh Dalmia has finally ended up in judicial custody in connection with several fraud investigations, these firms have smoothly transited into the control of Indian owners. The first was Aegis Communications, a Texas-based outsourcing company that Dalmia tried to acquire through a BPO called Allserve Systems Corp. It was this deal that originally attracted the attention of the NY Post columnist. After Dalmia’s bid fell through, Aegis was acquired by a Essar Global along with a Deutsche Bank subsidiary. A year later, Dalmia tried to reverse-merge another of his companies called Vanguard Info-Solutions with The A Consulting Team Inc (TACT), a Nasdaq listed company. That deal also fell through under relentless exposure by the New York Post. But last week, Helios & Matheson, which is in the midst of a legal battle over its alleged acquisition of vMoksha (when it was headed by former DSQ Software chief Pawan Kumar) had announced the acquisition of a 43 per cent ‘‘controlling’’ stake in the New York based TACT. Like the vMoksha acquisition, this too is claimed as ‘all-cash’ deal worth $8.75 million.
Free VIP pass
In the last few years, this column has frequently written about how the Mumbai-Pune Expressway, a perfectly viable project on a stand-alone basis, was rendered non viable by the Maharashtra State Road Development Corp (MSRDC) and interfering politicians. First it was not allowed to put up advertising hoardings that were listed as a source of revenue. Instead, scores of hoardings have now come up beyond the fenced boundaries of the Expressway. Secondly an IT township that would have subsidised the Expressway project was unceremoniously dropped and the land acquired for it was speedily returned to the original owners. Thirdly, the entire project along with the old NH4 stretch was sold-off to a subsidiary of Ideal Road Builders, which has the mandate to maintain the Expressway and collect toll. This column has also protested about the steep 20 per cent hike in toll, within a year after the road was handed over to the private contractor. Last week I was rewarded for my trouble. Along with a response to my query about two and three-wheelers on the Expressway (near Khandala), I was sent a VIP All Toll Free Pass No A-1077. This would save me Rs 236 on every trip from Mumbai to Pune. The question is, how many VIP passes were required to ensure that nobody has seriously questioned this project, not even the BJP-Sena combine that takes credit for it?