Citizens' Issues
Activists urge BMC to withdraw plan asking for proofs while filing complaint

Activists and citizen have urged the Mumbai Municipal Commissioner to withdraw BMC's move asking people to submit education, occupation and residential proof while filing complaints

Angry citizens and activists have called for the Commissioner of the Municipal Corp of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) or BrihanMumbai Municipal Corp (BMC) to immediately withdraw its move asking complainants to submit education, occupation and residential proof while filing a complaint.

Shailesh Gandhi, former Central Information Commissioner and Right to Information (RTI) activist, said “The practise, which is being followed by D ward and now being advertised appears to effectively stop telephone complaints on 1916 and makes citizens go to BMC offices and give proof of their education, occupation and residence. I am unable to understand the relevance of these (proofs) for filing a complaint”.

The BMC, in an advertisement published on 19th June, proposed that while accepting the complaints, the citizen is required to submit education, occupation and residential proof. Along with that, these details will be displayed on the notice board, the advertisement says. The demand by the MCGM has been made under the Section 36 (H) of Mumbai Municipal Corporation Act, 1888.

Mr Gandhi said, people file complaints with the Municipal Corporation as they are not satisfied with activities like illegal construction, encroachments or corruption.

Considering this as a matter of complainant’s security, he said, “It appears to be designed to harass and intimidate those who wish to file a complaint and also expose them to threats, assaults and murder if they are making complaints of illegal activities. If any citizen comes to harm because of this practise we will hold the Corporation responsible for this”.

Mr Gandhi, drawing his concern over democracy in India, said,  “While India moves towards a better democracy, this move appears to be aimed at targeting and intimidating citizens who take the trouble to highlight the shortcomings and illegal activities. While the nation makes moves to protect whistle blowers, D ward appears to want to muzzle them.”

The advertisement mentions that to discuss the proposal further, MCGM has called for an urgent meeting on 24th June.


Swiss banks’ response shows that the new Indian govt is serious about black money!

The Swiss government has started preparing a list of Indians with suspected black money. This shows that the Indian government is really serious about seeking information on black money

In a major boost to India’s fight against black money, Switzerland has prepared a list of Indians suspected to have stashed untaxed wealth in Swiss banks and the details are being shared with the Indian government.


According to an official from the Swiss government, the authorities were very keen to work with the new government in India and they would also provide all necessary support to the newly set up Special Investigation Team (SIT) on black money. In May this year, the first Cabinet meeting of the Narendra Modi government resolved to form the SIT to unearth black money stashed abroad. The SIT is headed by former Supreme Court judge MB Shah and includes the Revenue Secretary, CBI and IB directors, an Enforcement Directorate official, CBDT Chairman and RBI deputy governor as members. Former Supreme Court judge Arijit Pasayat will be the vice-chairman of the panel.


While declining to be named, as he is not authorised to speak to media, the senior official from Switzerland further said the details are being shared with India on a ‘spontaneous’ basis and are different from the information sought earlier by the Indian authorities on the basis of ‘leaked’ or ‘stolen’ lists of certain banks, including the so-called ‘HSBC list’. But more about this later.


The names of these Indian individuals and entities have come under the scanner of the Swiss authorities during an ongoing exercise to identify real beneficiary owners of funds held in various banks operating in Switzerland.


“These individuals and entities are suspected to have held untaxed money in Swiss banks through structures like trusts, domiciliary companies and other legal entities based out of countries other than India,” the official said.


He refused to divulge the identity of these persons and entities, as also the quantum of funds held by them in Swiss banks, citing confidentiality clauses of the bilateral information exchange treaty between two countries.


He however dismissed claims that black money stashed in Swiss banks by Indians could be trillions of dollars, as the latest Swiss National Bank data pegs the total foreign client money across 283 banks in Switzerland at $1.6 trillion.


Asked about rise in Indian exposure to Swiss banks at 2.03 billion Swiss francs (Rs14,000 crore), he said these are the funds held by clients who have declared themselves as Indian and therefore were unlikely to be ill-gotten wealth.


It must be noted that under pressure from the OECD and the G20, the Swiss government in March 2009 decided to abolish the distinction between tax evasion and tax fraud in dealings with foreign clients. In 2013, the Swiss Parliament approved a law that allows Swiss banks to cooperate with tax authorities from the US as specified in the Foreign Accounts Tax Compliance Act (FATCA).


In October 2013, the Swiss government stated that it intended to sign an international agreement sponsored by the OECD, which if ratified by Parliament, will align Swiss banking practices with those of other countries, and in effect end the special secrecy that clients of Swiss banks had enjoyed in the past.


Earlier, Swiss banking secrecy was dealt a severe setback by the revelations made by ex-UBS banker Bradley Birkenfeld, who blew the whistle on UBS providing Americans with vehicles to hide up to $20 billion in assets to avoid taxes. In November 2008, a US federal grand jury indicted Birkenfeld's former boss, Raoul Weil, as the result of the investigation of UBS' US cross-border business. As a result of the information Birkenfeld gave US authorities, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said it had reached a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) with UBS that resulted in a $780 million fine and the release of previously privileged information on American tax evaders.


On 11 September 2012, Birkenfeld was awarded $104 million for acting as a corporate whistleblower by the US IRS Whistleblower Office. At that time, Swiss newspaper Blick wrote, “Birkenfeld was a blessing for the Swiss financial industry, in that his revelations helped accelerate the industry's transition away from its reliance on 'dirty' money by dooming the bank secrecy laws that enabled tax evasion."


This shows that if the particular government is serious, then the Swiss authorities are prepared for cooperation and sharing list of bank account holders, who may have stashed unaccounted money in that country.


In 2012, the Income-Tax (I-T) department in India, probing the secret list of account holders in the Geneva branch of HSBC Bank, had approached Swiss revenue authorities for banking data of certain individuals after investigations showed some of them reportedly had other accounts under fictitious names. India had obtained data of over 700 HSBC accounts from French government channels during that year.


The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) had said, based on observations reported in its Annual Financial Inspection of HSBC for 2012, it would take further action against the lender, which is under the scanner for alleged violations of money-laundering and KYC norms. But there has not been much action on this front.



shadi katyal

2 years ago

We understand that Swiss Govt has denied this report. So kindly give us where and when you got this wishful hope.


2 years ago

Switzerland always took India seriously. Which is why the list was concealed until the Govt asked for it.

Particle found in 2012 is the Higgs boson indeed!

The findings, published in Nature Physics, confirm that the Higgs bosons decay to fermions — a group of particles that includes all leptons and quarks — as predicted by the Standard Model of particle physics

In a breakthrough, researchers at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) have found the first evidence for the direct decay of the Higgs boson into fermions — a strong indication that the particle discovered in 2012 is the Higgs boson.


The findings confirm that the bosons decay to fermions — a group of particles that includes all leptons and quarks — as predicted by the Standard Model of particle physics.


“This is an enormous breakthrough,” said Markus Klute, an assistant professor of physics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).


“Now we know that particles like electrons get their mass by coupling to the Higgs field, which is really exciting,” he added.


In July 2012, researchers from the ATLAS and Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) experiments at the CERN, said they had observed a new particle in the mass region of 125 to 126 gigaelectronvolts (GeV).


Preliminary studies showed the new particle’s properties were consistent with those predicted for the Higgs boson by the Standard Model, but much more work was needed to confirm.


Researchers wanted to clarify whether there was a single Higgs or many different Higgs particles, as predicted by various extensions of the Standard Model, Klute said.


“What we are trying to do is establish whether this particle is really consistent with the Higgs boson, the particle we predict in our Standard Model, and not one of many Higgs bosons, or an imposter that looks like it but has a different origin,” he said.


Previous analysis of the data produced by experiments at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider, in Switzerland, has shown that like the Higgs boson of the Standard Model, the new particles have no spin, and rapidly decay by splitting into pairs of photons, W bosons, or Z bosons. But it remained uncertain whether they could also decay to fermion pairs, Klute said.


Now the team from the CMS Collaboration has demonstrated that the bosons also decay to fermions in a way that is consistent with the Standard Model Higgs.


“We have now established the main characteristics of this new particle, in its coupling to fermions and to bosons, and its spin-parity structure; all of these things are consistent with the Standard Model,” Klute said.


To determine whether the particles could decay to fermions, the researchers fired protons at each other in a 6-metre-diameter solenoid and used specialised detectors to determine which particles were produced in the resulting collisions.


The researchers were hunting for particles called tau leptons, which have a mass of around 1.7 GeV, making them around 3,500 times heavier than their little sibling, the electron.


They were able to confirm the presence of decay to tau leptons with a confidence level of 3.8 standard deviations — a one in 10,000 chance that the signal they saw would have appeared if there were no Higgs particles.


The study was published in the journal Nature Physics.


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