Citizens' Issues
AG to decide whether report on Ranjit Sinha be made public
New Delhi : The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi if the report on the meetings between former CBI director Ranjit Sinha and some accused in coal block allocation scam be made public.
 
The court sought the view of the Attorney General as the report by CBI's former special director M.L. Sharma was given to the court in a sealed cover. The report has details about the impact, if any, of the meetings that Sinha had with the accused on the investigations undertaken by the probe agency.
 
"The question is to what extent it (report) can be disclosed. Could it be the entire report, nothing or only the findings of the committee," the apex court coal bench of Justice Madan B. Lokur, Justice Kurian Joseph and Justice A.K. Sikri said at the outset of the hearing as it perused the report submitted to it in a sealed cover. 
 
Sharma in a 205-page report has also sought access to the preliminary enquiries (PE) undertaken by the investigating agency.
 
The apex court coal bench had appointed the CBI's former special director Sharma to inquire whether the meetings that the former CBI director Ranjit Sinha had with several accused in coal block allocation scam in any way impacted the investigations or their final outcome.
 
As the court after perusing the report by Sharma said that he was seeking access to the preliminary enquiry, Attorney General Rohatgi opposed it saying "As far as PEs are concerned I don't think it should be given."
 
"The CBI has filed PEs, it was examined by the CVC (Central Vigilance Commission) and the same has been accepted by the apex court," the AG told the bench saying that the report should not be shared with others. 
 
"There is no reason why this report is not given (disclosed) so long it does not compromise the investigation or anything else," said Counsel Prashant Bhushan appearing for the petitioner NGO Common Cause.
 
Saying that "first we have to decide if we have to give it at all or keep it to our self", the court told AG Rohatgi, "We will give you the copy of the report and you look into it and decide."
 
Saying that the report by Sharma runs into 205 pages, the court said: "After reading it, he (Rohatgi) will have a better view as to why he (Sharma) is asking for PEs."
 
Having said this, court gave the copy of the report to Attorney General Rohatgi in the court itself.
 
Meanwhile, the court said it would hear with the main matter the plea by former minister of state for coal, Santosh Bagrodia, seeking that his plea for stay of summons in the coal block allocation scam be tagged with that of former prime minister Manmohan Singh.
 
Bagrodia is seeking parity in relief with former prime minister Singh in whose case the court had stayed the summons for the allocation of 15 per cent of Talabira II Coal Block to Hindalco.
 
The apex court on April 1, 2015, had stayed the summons issued on March 11, 2015, against Manmohan Singh and Kumaramanglam Birla by the special court holding trial of coal scam cases. The court had also stayed further proceedings in the matter.
 
The matter would be heard on May 4 next.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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New hydrology project to predict floods, manage droughts
New Delhi : The Union cabinet on Wednesday gave the green signal to the National Hydrology Project (NHP) and establishment of a National Water Informatics Centre (NWIC) with a total outlay of Rs.3,679.76 crore for better flood and drought forecast.
 
The NHP is intended for setting up a system for timely and reliable water resources data acquisition, storage, collation and management. 
 
The system would improve the flood forecast time to at least three days in advance from one day at present.
 
It will also provide systems for informed decision making through Decision Support Systems (DSS) for water resources assessment, flood management, reservoir operations, drought management, etc. 
 
“The NHP will result in the improvement of data storage, exchange, analysis and dissemination through NWIC. The data can be accessed by any user at the state/district/village level,” an official informed.
 
“The automated systems for flood forecasting is aimed to reduce water disaster ultimately helping vulnerable population. It is people and farmer centric programme as information on water can help in predicting water availability and help farmers to plan their crops and other farm related activities,” the official added. 
 
Besides, the system would help map the flood inundated areas for use by the disaster management authorities.
 
The NHP will lead to better assessment of surface and ground water resources in a river basin for better planning and allocation of resources, improve reservoir operations through seasonal yield forecast and improve drought management, the official said.
 
Of the total outlay of Rs.3,679.76 crore, Rs.3,640 crore has been earmarked for National Hydrology Project while Rs.39.7674 crore has been kept aside for NWIC. 
 
Out of the total outlay, 50 percent of the amount would be World Bank loan which would be repaid by the Central government. The remaining amount would be central assistance from the budgetary support. 
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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India to exchange tax information with all G20 nations
New Delhi : India is set to exchange tax evasion information with all G20 countries by 2017-18, as a step to address cases like those coming out of "Panama Papers" in which over 500 Indians are said to have invested in foreign accounts, sources in the finance ministry said.
 
"By 2017-18, India will have automatic exchange of information (AEIO) with all the G20 countries. As many as 96 countries, including the UK, Germany and France, already have a consensus on AEIO and more countries will join this gradually," a government official told IANS.
 
The recently revealed cases like "Panama papers" would not have occurred, had India had an accord on the common reporting standard (CRS) under automatic exchange of information with other countries, the official told IANS.
 
Common reporting standard falls under AEIO, which allows for countries to exchange foreign investment details of its citizens, to check tax evasion and stashing of unaccounted wealth in tax havens.
 
The information exchange agreement will enable the government to clamp down on tax evasion as off-shore accounts of citizens will be curtailed substantially with information on accounts, interest payments and beneficial ownership being shared between countries.
 
India was a part of the Early Adoptor Group of this automatic information exchange framework. It joined the global efforts during an Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) meeting in October 2014.
 
The first exchange of information on new off-shore accounts opened in 2016 and at the end of 2015 will take place in 2017, as agreed upon by the Early Adoptor Group. The global standard of automatic exchange of information was developed by the OECD in July 2014.
 
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said on Monday adventurism in avoiding taxes will prove costly.
 
"This is a stern reminder to all of us that with the G20 initiatives, FATCA (Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act) and bilateral transactions in place with effect from 2017, the world is going to be a far more transparent institution," he told industry captains.
 
"The world is becoming one where adventurism, like in the past, is going to be increasingly a risky proposition," Jaitley said at the CII Annual Session. 
 
Last year, India signed a convention on administrative assistance in tax issues. In 2014, the G20 nations agreed to a new global transparency standard for around 90 countries and jurisdictions to begin automatic exchange of tax information.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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