Bombay HC adjourns hearing on Vodafone appeal till 8th July

The Bombay High Court (HC) today adjourned the hearing on appeal filed by Vodafone International in its Income Tax (I-T) dispute till 8th July, reports PTI.

The court also stayed the ruling passed by the I-T department on May 31.

The dispute centres on the tax liability of Vodafone after it acquired the stake of Hutchison International in the Hutchison-Essar in a $11.1 billion deal in February 2007.

On 31st May, the I-T department held in a ruling that it had the jurisdiction to tax the transaction. The tax liability of Vodafone is estimated to be around $2 billion.

The tax department's case is that Hutchison made capital gains in the deal, and while paying the purchase amount to Hutchison, Vodafone should have deducted tax on it.

The department first issued a show-cause notice to Vodafone in 2007, which it challenged before Bombay High Court. After the court dismissed Vodafone's petition, it went to the apex court in January 2009.

The Supreme Court sent the case back to the I-T department, to decide first whether the latter had the jurisdiction, because both Vodafone and Hutchison are based in foreign countries.

Since the I-T department held last month that it had the jurisdiction, the case will begin afresh in the high court now.
 

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US working out new India-specific export control regime

The export control regime, which will address the concerns of New Delhi, is expected to be in place before the November visit of president Barack Obama. It will also remove restrictions on export of hi-tech equipment and weapon sales to India

Anticipating a wider cooperation with India in space and defence, the US is working out a new India-specific export control regime to ease restrictions on export of hi-tech equipment, reports PTI.

Such an export control regime, which will also address the concerns of New Delhi, is expected to be in place before the November visit of president Barack Obama, a top state department official said.

The new policy will also remove restrictions on export of hi-tech equipment and weapon sales to India.

"Another India-specific review is under way," assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asia Robert Blake told reporters.

The US assurance comes as Washington is undertaking a wider view of the country's overall export control regime.

President Obama last year ordered a full review of Washington's export-control regime and the process is expected to be completed in the next few months.

"In fact we will probably split off from the wider review," Mr Blake said as he pointed out that Washington had made "a great deal of progress over the last six years or so in reducing the export controls that apply to India".

"There's been a lot of progress, but there still are some controls. So there's a reciprocal process under way to seek the necessary assurances from the Indians about the strengthening of their own export control regime that would enable us to relax our restrictions," he said.

Mr Blake anticipated that there's going to be further good progress on this.

"We had a good exchange during the strategic dialogue in which we shared ideas about how we can achieve that good progress. So I expect that there will be some positive announcements to be made before the president's visit, hopefully well before," he said.

Mr Blake said the US is having a close look at the entities list. "And many entities have already come off it over the last several years. But now there's a focus on entities like ISRO and DRDO-the Indian Space Research Organisation, the Defence Research and Development Organisation," he said.

"So again, we think that there are enormous opportunities for American companies to do more and work more with their colleagues in the space area and also in the defence area. So these are steps that would serve both of our countries. We shared ideas about how we could make progress on that. And we to see progress on that in the fairly near future," Mr Blake said.
 

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Nilekani to head Finmin's technical advisory group

The group will submit its report to the ministry within six months on the roadmap to roll out five projects—tax information network, the new pension system, the National Treasury Management Agency, the expenditure information network and goods and services tax

The government on Monday set up a committee headed by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) chairman Nandan Nilekani to advise it on various information technology (IT) initiatives taken in the areas of income tax (I-T), new pension system (NPS) and the proposed goods and services tax (GST), reports PTI.

The finance ministry yesterday announced the constitution of the Technology Advisory Group for Unique Projects (TAGUP) which will have six other members, including Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) chairman CB Bhave.

The group will submit its report to the ministry within six months on the roadmap to roll out five projects-tax information network (TIN), the new pension system, the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA), the expenditure information network (EIN) and goods and service tax.

"These five projects alone have immense transformative power and change the country's growth trajectory. The challenge is to find ways to rapidly roll out these complex systems, to achieve and sustain high levels of reliable performance," the finance ministry said in a statement, adding the constitution of the TAGUP is an effort in this direction.

The group will suggest roadmap to roll out these systems and any changes in legal and regulatory requirements for this purpose. Besides, the group has also been asked to suggest technology architecture, including the possibility of introducing open protocols, for implementing these projects.

The seven-member body will also advise the ministry on security challenges of malicious attacks on the system.

Mr Nilekani, one of the founders of IT giant Infosys, had left his job last year to join the government in its ambitious plan of rolling out a 16-digit unique identification number to all citizens.

While TIN was set up to improve tax administration and check tax evasion, NTMA is an autonomous body set up to carry out debt and cash management, besides management of contingent and other liabilities of the Centre and the states.
 

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