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Bombay High Court

We all saw how just recently on December 21, 2021, the Bombay High Court in a learned, laudable, landmark and latest judgment titled Siddhivinayak Umesh Vindhe Vs The State of Maharashtra & Anr. in Criminal Application No. 647 of 2021 with Criminal Application No. 27 of 2021 asked the Maharashtra State Government to consider making offence punishable under Section 498A of IPC a compoundable offence. The Court also pointed out that Andhra Pradesh is already taking this approach. Very rightly so!

According to a Bench of Justice Nitin Jamdar and Justice Sarang Kotwal making the offence compoundable will be beneficial for courts as well as litigants. The Bench very rightly observed that, “The parties can save expenses, time and energy in approaching the High Court. It will also free up the already crowded docket of this court. Most of these connected proceedings can be put to rest and the parties can resume normal life. It would be in the interest of the parties in such matters if the offence is made compoundable with permission of the Court. Therefore, we are of the opinion that the Government of Maharashtra should consider this aspect and consider making the offence under Section 498-A of IPC compoundable under Section 320 of Cr.P.C., with permission of the Court, as was done by the State of Andhra Pradesh.”

It would be pertinent to mention that the Court made these relevant observations during the hearing of a petition that was filed by one Siddhivinayaj Virdhe and his wife who sought quashing of an FIR registered against him in Solapur. It also deserves mentioning that the couple submitted that they have resolved the dispute and requested the court to quash the FIR registered under domestic violence charges. It cannot be glossed over that the court did accept the couple’s request for quashing the FIR but remarked rightly that a large number of writ petitions and applications are filed in this court seeking to quash FIR under Section 498A of IPC by stating that parties have settled.

To start with, the ball is set rolling in para 2 of this brief, brilliant, bold and balanced judgment authored by Justice Nitin Jamdar and Justice Sarang V Kotwal wherein it is put forth that, “The Respondent No.2 is present in the Court and she is appearing in person along with her father Rajendra Manohar Deshmukh who is practicing advocate at Madha, District Solapur. Considering the affidavit tendered by the Respondent No.2 and that Shri. Deshmukh is a practicing advocate, we have permitted Respondent No.2’s father to represent her.”

Simply put, the Bench then specifies in para 3 that, “The learned counsel for the Applicants and the Respondent No.2 jointly request that the F.I.R. filed by the Respondent No.2 be quashed as the Respondent No.2 has given her consent and Affidavit to that effect is filed.”

Of course, the Bench then brings out in para 4 that, “There are two Applications seeking to quash the same F.I.R. Application No. 647 of 2021 is filed by the husband of the Respondent No.2. Application No. 27 of 2021 is filed by the Applicant No.1 sister-in-law, Applicant No.2 brother of father-in-law, Applicant No.3 father-in-law and Applicant No.4 mother-in-law of the Respondent No.2. The Respondent No.2 filed an F.I.R. alleging mental and physical cruelty by the Applicants and that she was subjected to demands of dowry.”

Going ahead, the Bench then states in para 5 that, “The learned counsel for the Applicants and the Respondent No2. state that the divorce petition has been filed bearing Marriage Petition No. 117 of 2021 in the court of Civil Judge, Senior Division, Pandharpur, wherein, consent terms have been executed. It is stated that, in the light of the same, the dispute is settled.”

Truth be told, the Bench then specifies in para 6 that, “Considering this statement made on oath and in person before us, we find that the case for exercise of extraordinary jurisdiction of this Court is made out. The dispute led to filing of an F.I.R. is a matrimonial dispute which is now resolved. It does not have repercussion on the society at large.”

To put things in perspective, the Bench then observes in para 7 that, “There is however a wider issue. We note that very large number of applications and writ petitions are filed in this Court for quashing of F.I.R. filed under Section 498A of Indian Penal Code, on the ground that the parties have settled their dispute. These proceedings are then quashed by the High Court in its extraordinary jurisdiction. We had requested the learned Advocate General to assist the Court to ascertain whether Section 498A of IPC can be made compoundable with permission of the Court. We were of this prima facie opinion, in the light of the fact that the State of Andhra Pradesh by amendment in the Code of Criminal Procedure by Act of 11 of 2003 has amended Section 320 of the Code of Criminal Procedure and inserted Section 498A of the IPC in the table appended to Section 320 of Code of Criminal Procedure.”

As we see, the Bench then points out in para 8 that, “Learned Advocate General accepted that the State of Andhra Pradesh had already made the offence under Section 498-A of IPC a compoundable offence with permission of the Court with certain stipulations.”

Most significantly, the Bench then lays bare in para 9 that, “Shri Aradhye, learned counsel for the Applicants has ably assisted the Court on legal position at short notice. He places before us the extracts from the Law Commission Reports and Committees. The relevant discussion in 243rd Report of the Law Commission is as follow:

“ There is preponderance of opinion in favour of making the offence under S.498-A compoundable with the permission of the court. Even those (individuals, officials and organizations) who say that it should remain a non-bailable offence, have suggested that the offence should be made compoundable, subject to the permission of court. Some States, for e.g., Andhra Pradesh have already made it compoundable. The Supreme Court, in the case of Ramgopal v. State of M. P. in SLP (Crl.) No. 6494 of 2010 (Order dt. July 30, 2010), observed that the offence under S, 498-A should be made compoundable. However, there is sharp divergence of views on the point whether it should be made a bailable offence. It is pleaded by some that the offence should be made bailable at least with regard to husband’s relations and in respect of the cases failing under second part of the Explanation Clause (b) to Section 498-A.

As regards compoundability, the Commission has given a comprehensive report (237 th Report) under the title of “Compounding of IPC Offences”. The Commission recommended that the offence under Section 498A should be made a compoundable offence with the permission of Court. The Commission has suggested the inclusion of the following sub-section in S.320 Cr.PC:

After the application for compounding an offence under S.498A of Indian Penal Code is filed and on interviewing the aggrieved woman, preferably in the Chamber in the presence of a lady judicial officer or a representative of District Legal Services Authority or a counselor or a close relation, if the Magistrate is satisfied that there was prima facie a voluntary and genuine settlement between the parties, the Magistrate shall make a record to that effect and the hearing of application shall be adjourned by three months or such other earlier date which the Magistrate may fix in the interests of Justice.

On the adjourned date, the Magistrate shall again interview the victim woman in the like manner and then pass the final order permitting or refusing to compound the offence after giving opportunity of hearing to the accused. In the interregnum, it shall be open to the aggrieved woman to file an application revoking her earlier offer to compound the offence on sufficient grounds.”

(emphasis supplied)

In the 154th Report of the Law Commission also there was a clear recommendation to make the offence compoundable. Justice Mallimath Committee on Criminal Justice Reform also recommended that it should be made compoundable. In the Committee of Petitions (Rajya Sabha) Report presented on 7th September 2011 regarding this issue, following were the recommendations under the heading “Making the offence under Section 498-A IPC compoundable” :

“The Committee notes that the offence under Section 498A IPC is essentially a fallout of strained matrimonial relationship for which there might be various considerations. Since there can be various causes leading to an offence under Section 498A IPC and parties to the marriage could be responsible for the same in varying degrees, it would be appropriate if the remedy of compromise is kept open to settle a matrimonial dispute. In this context, the Committee feels that in case of any marital discord which has reached the stage of a complaint under Section 498A IPC, it would be better if the parties have the option of a compromise where after they can settle down in their lives appropriately for a better future rather than diverting their energies negatively by pursuing litigation. The Committee recommends to the Government to consider whether the offence under Section 498A IPC can be made compoundable.”

(emphasis supplied)

These recommendations are eloquent. It would be in the interest of all the parties concerned if the offence under Section 498-A of IPC is made compoundable with permission of the Court with certain safeguards.”

No less significant is what is then propounded in para 10 that, “When there is a discord between husband and wife, it leads to various litigations. Invariably prosecutions are launched under Section 498-A of IPC; the proceedings under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act; the proceedings for maintenance under Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, divorce proceedings etc. On most occasions, all these proceedings are generally pending in different cities and, therefore, it is difficult and expensive for the parties to approach the High Court for getting the FIR and other proceedings under Section 498-A of IPC quashed under Section 482 of Cr.P.C. If the offence under Section 498-A of I.P.C. is made compoundable with permission of the Court, the Magistrate can interact with the parties. Parties can apply to the local Courts. Quite often Applications under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act are also filed from the same dispute, which are triable by the Magistrate. If Section 498A of IPC is made compoundable the same Court can settle the dispute comprehensively.”

Equally significant is what is then envisaged in para 11 that, “The parties can save expenses, time and energy in approaching the High Court. It will also free up the already crowded docket of this court. Most of these connected proceedings can be put to rest and the parties can resume normal life. It would be in the interest of the parties in such matters if the offence is made compoundable with permission of the Court. Therefore, we are of the opinion that the Government of Maharashtra should consider this aspect and consider making the offence under Section 498-A of IPC compoundable under Section 320 of Cr.P.C., with permission of the Court, as was done by the State of Andhra Pradesh.”

As it turned out, the Bench then mentions in para 12 that, “The learned Advocate General assured the Court that the State will ascertain whether the State of Maharashtra will also consider amendment to the Schedule appended to Section 320 of Code of Criminal Procedure to include Section 498A of the IPC as a compoundable offence with the leave of the Court. We hope and trust the State of Maharashtra will take positive steps in this regard.”

As a corollary, the Bench then holds in para 13 that, “Reverting to the Applications at hand, in the light of what is discussed above, the Applications are allowed in terms of prayer clause (b) in both the Applications.”

Finally, the Bench then concludes by holding in para 14 that, “Copies of this order be sent to the office of learned Advocate General and learned Public Prosecutor.”

In sum, the Bench of Justice Sarang V Kotwal and Justice Nitin Jamdar of the Bombay High Court have been considerate enough to take the absolutely right step of asking the Maharashtra State Government to consider making Section 498A of the IPC a compoundable offence which it must do urgently on a war footing. This will ensure that its misuse is contained to a large extent! It brooks no more delay!

It would not be incongruous to say that even the Centre should also not sit idle and similarly consider this seriously and act accordingly so that the misuse of this notorious Section 498A of IPC is minimized to the maximum possible extent! This is the crying need of the hour also! This alone explains why the Bombay High Court has been so vocal in asserting in its favour as we see while having a cursory look at this notable judgment!

Sanjeev Sirohi is an advocate

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Policy & Politics




In India more than 50 startups have the potential of entering the unicorn club in 2022 as showcased in a new study. This will take the total tally of India to well over 100 startup unicorns(those well valued over $1 billion each). The year 2022 has shaped up nicely to become a matrix and a petri-dish of startups and with each success the chances of others joining them becomes well over-precedent. The growth of startups can be attributed to various national economic policies and the ease of doing business norms. The shopping capabilities and buying parameters of the people also has to do a lot with this, the report by a consultancy firm suggested.

Amit Nawka, partner(deals and startup leader) in PwC India, which conducted the study said that, “ We can say that the base of these companies in growth stage and late-stage deals have improved have improved significantly in the calendar year 2021, depicting a stronger base of companies having the potential to reach the unicorn status. With market sentiments favourably inclined towards startups, and the large base of scaled startup companies at the end of CY21, we expect the startup’ unicorn tally to go well beyond 100 by the end of 2022.” Over $10 billion was invested in the Indian startup ecosystem in the October-December quarter alone, according to the report.

81 is the total number of startups in India as of now with a total valuation of 4274 billion. Of these 44 unicorns with a total valuation of $89 billion were born last year, shows data from Invest India, the national investment promotion agency. The PwC report shows that in the fourth quarter, startup funding crossed the $10 billion mark.

If we talk about categorisation, Fintech startups raised nearly four times more funds last year as compared to the previous year. Edtech followed closely with a growth of 86% compared to $2.2 billion raised in 2020. Software as a service came in a close third. Growth and late-stage deals comprised around 85% of the total funding. Among the most persistent and active investors were Sequoia Capital, Accel and Tiger Global. A December 2021 report by the Hurun Research Institute had mentioned that India is the third largest home for unicorns globally but trails the US and China by a wide margin.

Bengaluru and the Nation Capital Region witnessed nearly three-fourth of the total funding by venture capital and private equity funds, the report said. In its list of 50 potential unicorns it placed companies like Khatabook, Whatfix, Practo, Ninjacart, Inshorts, Pepperfry as among the candidates because of their history of having raised over USD 100 million to date.

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Policy & Politics

Effect of high rated fuel on country’s economy



High fuel taxes combined with a recovery in international crude oil rates has affected millions of people, slowing down the recovery of the country. The price of petrol and diesel hits a new record everyday. In Mumbai, petrol can be bought at Rs 109.98 per litre and diesel costs Rs 94.14 for one litre as on 18th January.

Experts have warned that rising fuel rates could severely derail India’s economy, which is already under pressure due to the impact of the second Covid-19 wave. High petrol and diesel prices have not only impacted vehicle owners, but also people who do not own a car. Rising fuel prices have resulted in a sharp rise in retail inflation, making a host of essential commodities and services costlier for citizens.

Elevated tax levels are playing a major role in the current record high prices in India. The central government had last year increased levies on petrol by Rs 14 per litre and on diesel by Rs 16 per litre to shore up revenues as the pandemic forced a sharp slowdown in the economic activity. Central and state taxes currently account for about 53.5 per cent of the pump price of petrol and about 47.6 per cent of the pump price of diesel in Mumbai

The rising crude oil prices, and the higher taxation impact, have also contributed to the prices of petrol and diesel regularly setting new record highs across the country in 2021. Petrol in nation’s capital is priced at Rs 95.41 per litre while diesel in the national capital is retailing at Rs 86.67 per litre. India has seen a faster recovery in the consumption of petrol than of diesel after pandemic-related restrictions with petrol consumption up 9 per cent in September compared to the year ago period but diesel consumption remaining 6.5 per cent below 2020 levels. Diesel accounts for about 38 per cent of petroleum product consumption in India and is a key fuel used in industry and agriculture.

India has long pushed for Middle eastern countries to remove the Asian premium that Asian countries have to pay for crude oil as key oil producers set higher prices for India than for the US and European countries. Despite a 40 cent per barrel cut in the official selling price of light crude to Asia, Saudi Arabia is still charging a $1.30 premium on the benchmark price for light crude sold to India compared to a $2.4 discount on the benchmark price for European customers.

Experts have noted that countries like India do not have much bargaining power in the current market scenario where supply is lower than demand and that India’s bargaining power may be reduced further if we try to further diversify crude oil procurement. Also, the level of output and pricing benchmarks are decided by cartels such as OPEC.

So, Experts believe that the government should cut excise duty to some extent as it will provide some relief to customers and lead to higher sales and revenues which will accelerate the economy. But economic recovery will become tricky if the government continues to ignore rising fuel prices. If the commodity becomes too expensive, it would see a sharp decline in revenue.

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Policy & Politics

India-born top the list of founders among US unicorns: Study



It is not only in India but in the US too that Indian founders are creating unicorns.

A study by Professor of Finance at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business, Ilya A. Strebulaev researched that 90 out of 1,078 founders and entrepreneurs across 500 US unicorns were born in India which signalled a significant presence of Indian-Americans in the country’s startup and tech economy. He tweeted that, “Over four out of ten unicorn founders are first gen immigrants”. Indian born founders were followed by the ones from Israel and Canada with 52 and 42 founders respectively.

Some of the Indian origin founders of prominent unicorns include: Rohan Seth of Clubhouse, Baiju Bhatt of Robinhood, Dheeraj Pandey, Mohit Aron, Ajeet Singh of Nutanix, Apoorv Mehta of Instacart, Aayush Phumbhra of Chegg, among many others.

The research undertaken by Strebulaev is ripe at the time when India based technology want to return back home. Indian immigrants in the US are increasingly leaving their American dream behind because of visa issues and also because of the allure of a thriving startup culture in the home country. America has had a history of extremely successful Indian-origin entrepreneurs including Kanwal Rekhi, Pramod Haque, Sanjay Malhotra among others. India born executives are not only fueling the startups of the US but they are the executives of the most powerful tech giants.

U.S based Kaufman Foundation 33.2% of the co-founders of technology and engineering founded by immigrants in the US were Indians. Kaufman Foundation found out that Indian immigrant contribution in tech and startup industry was the only one that increased, all other immigrant contributions saw a decline. Another finding showed that 33 of the top 50 AI companies have at least one first generation immigrant founder. And 53 of the 125 founders are first generation immigrants. India and Israel were the largest senders of immigrant AI founders followed by the UK, China and Portugal.

India has a vibrant and an ever growing startup ecosystem. A recent report by venture capital fund Orios Venture Partners said Indian startups raised $42 Billion in 2021 up from $11.5 Billion in the previous year. The newly minted unicorns include ShareChat, Cred, Meesho, Moglix, MPL, Grofers(now blinkit), upGrad, Mamaearth, Acko, Spinny and others. India with 90 unicorns is the third largest unicorn hub behind the US(487) and China(301) and ahead of the UK(39). According to the report Flipkart was the most valuable unicorn($37.6 Billion).

India has seen four decacorns(companies with a valuation of USD 10 billion and above) so far- Flipkart, Paytm, BYJU’s and Oyo Rooms. While Bengaluru was the ‘Unicorn Hub’ with 18 unicorns emerging from the city in 2021 and 35 in all. It also happens to be the seventh largest unicorn city in the world.

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Policy & Politics




Karnataka is expected to play a significant part in the economy of the country in the future. The state is home to 13,000 of the country’s 54,000 startups. The Karnataka government has taken a number of steps to stimulate the formation of new businesses. The government is providing guidance and scientific support, according to Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai.

In an online message on the occasion of ‘National Startup Day’ on Sunday, the Chief Minister stated that the notion of a New Karnataka for a New India would be realized. In accordance with the Prime Minister’s wishes, the state has commemorated Startup Day in a meaningful way. The state government will give a major boost to startups, innovation, scientific thinking, and entrepreneurship in the coming days, he added. “Thanks to the Prime Minister’s long-term goal, the number of startups, which was once about 500, has already surpassed 54,000.” He has given a tremendous boost to innovation and entrepreneurs by establishing a forum to assist them and free them from government limitations. “On behalf of the state’s youth, the Prime Minister has been the inspiration for the biggest development of startups in the state,” Bommai added, thanking the Prime Minister.

Bengaluru is home to around 180 science and research institutions in a variety of sectors.

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DA hike

According to a new study, it has been found that the wealth of the 10 richest Indians is enough to fund school and higher education of children for over two decades (approx. 25 years). When most of the country was gripped by the Covid-19 pandemic, the combined fortunes of the Indian billionaires more than doubled during this period. The superrich count in the country has now shot up to 142, rising by 39 per cent.

The annual wealth inequality survey reported presented by Oxfam India at the Davos Agenda Summit of the World Economic Forum (WEF) said that an additional one per cent tax on the richest 10 per cent can provide nearly 17.7 lakh extra oxygen cylinders to the country. None of us can forget how there was a huge rush for oxygen cylinders and insurance claims during the second wave that struck last year.

On the other hand, a similar wealth tax on the 98 most-affluent families can finance Ayushman Bharat – world’s largest health insurance scheme, for more than seven years.

The report further finds that 142 Indian billionaires together own a wealth of $719 billion (over Rs 53 lakh crore). The richest 98 amongst them have the same wealth ($657 billion or nearly Rs 49 lakh crore) as the poorest 55.5 crore populace who are placed in the bottom 40 per cent.

It was found that if all of the top 10 richest Indians go on to spend $1 million every day, then it will take them 84 years to do away with their current wealth.

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Policy & Politics

Exports target of US$650 bn within the current financial year achievable: Piyush Goyal

‘$400 Bn target of Merchandise exports is within sight and the Services sector should strive for $250 Bn exports.’

Tarun Nangia



Piyush Goyal

The Minister of Commerce and Industry, Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution and Textiles, Piyush Goyaltoday said the exports target of USD 650 Billion within the current financial year is achievable. Chairing a Review Meeting of all major Export Promotion Councils (EPCs), Goyal said the $400 Bn target of Merchandise exports is within sight and the Services sector should strive for $250 Bnexports.

Expressing his satisfaction that India achieved $300 BnMerchandise exports in the first nine months of the current FY (April-Dec, 2022), Goyal assured the EPCs that his Ministry will do whatever it takes in handholding the EPCs and resolving their issues to attain even higher export targets in the next FY.

Shri Goyal said we can set a much higher goods exports target in the current last quarter of this FY. “In December alone we touched $37 Bn goods exports despite the Omicron fear factor weighing high. This month, in 15 days till January 15th, we have reached $16 Bn.”

oyal said the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has himself set the pace by setting “transformational results” and not “incremental growth”.

The Commerce & Industry Minister urged the EPCs and entrepreneurs to avail of the Government’s initiatives towards Ease of Doing Business such as obtaining clearances through the National Single Window System. He assured the Industry representatives to pursue their demands during the various FTA negotiations.

Speaking of the government’s efforts to improve the ease of living and the ease of doing business, Goyal said that more than 25,000 compliances have been reduced.

“In December alone we touched $37 Bn goods exports despite the Omicron fear factor weighing high” – Piyush Goyal

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