CBI seeks permission for Jagan's narco test

The CBI filed a petition for carrying out narco and polygraphic examination on YSR Congress chief Jaganmohan and his financial advisor V Vijaysai Reddy

Hyderabad: YSR Congress chief Jaganmohan Reddy will remain in jail for two more weeks with a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court on Monday extending his judicial remand till 25th June in a disproportionate assets case even as the agency sought permission to carry out a lie detection test on him, reports PTI.

The court order comes a day before the crucial by-poll to 18 Assembly seats and one Lok Sabha constituency in Andhra Pradesh for which Jagan's plea to be released on bail for campaign was rejected earlier by the court.

The arrest of 39-year-old Jagan on 27th May became the dominant issue during campaigning with his mother and YSR Congress party's honorary president YS Vijaya Lakshmi spearheading the canvassing.

The CBI filed a petition before the court of principal judge for CBI cases for carrying out scientific tests (narco and polygraphic examination) on him and another key accused and his financial advisor V Vijaysai Reddy.

"During the investigation it has emerged Jagan being the main beneficiary of all the ill-gotten money through various dubious methods including suspected hawala method and Vijay as the main kingpin and conspirator with Jagan to have alleged committed the offences," the CBI submitted.

Jagan, who has been sent to CBI custody twice, is the repository of entire information, document and details of alleged hawala transactions and he is keeping all the information close to his chest, the CBI said in its petition.

The agency further submitted that the investigation has revealed a chain of circumstances and multiple conspiracy with various persons, companies in Hyderabad and other parts of India and also foreign countries.

"In order to help and aid proper, just fair and fearless investigation into the matter the CBI seeks indulgence allowing the agency for using scientific ways for deriving information from Jagan and Vijaysai Reddy," CBI Superintendent of police H Venkatesh said.

"Administering the new scientific techniques does not cause any bodily harm and the information extracted by these methods will be used only for strengthening the investigation and such information may not necessarily be admitted in evidence as the time of trial," the CBI said.

The CBI contended that there is a possibility that the information extracted could lead to uncovering of independent evidence which may be very relevant.

Earlier, the court extended the judicial custody of Jagan till 25th June.

Meanwhile, Jagan accused the Andhra Pradesh government of trying to humiliate him by bringing him in a van used for transporting regular criminals without regard to his status as special class prisoner and his stature as a Member of Parliament (MP).

"My security was seriously compromised with Chenchalguda Jail authorities producing me before the court in a van," he said.

As soon as he was produced before the court of principal judge for CBI cases A Pullaiah, Jagan complained to the judge that he being an MP and President of YSR congress party was deliberately brought in a van in order to humiliate him.

Jagan also threatened to go on indefinite fast, if he was denied an opportunity to explain his stand before the judge.

"It is only with an intention to appear before the court, I did not protest or refuse to come in the van though I was aware of the 'mischief' and 'vendetta' being exhibited by the government and authorities," Jagan told the judge.

"CBI is saying witnesses are being influence by me which I have not done even before my arrest (after registration of the case in August last year) and till today. I am not a criminal and provided with Z category security but today I was brought in a van to make a spectacle.

"Everybody knows CBI arrested me to stop me from campaign for coming by-polls," he alleged.

To this, the judge said if rules permitted Jagan be provided with an exclusive vehicle and escort in view of the security and law and order situation.


Defence Ministry suspends BEML chief Natarajan

The Indian government suspended BEML's CMD VRS Natarajan following a recommendation by the CBI that he should be kept away from the post to ensure fair investigation

New Delhi: The Defence Ministry on Monday suspended BEML Chief VRS Natarajan in connection with the Tatra case on a recommendation by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) after former Army Chief Gen VK Singh levelled allegations that he was offered Rs14 crore bribe to clear a deal for 600 trucks, reports PTI.

The move comes a few days after the Defence Ministry issued a show cause notice to the BEML Chief for slapping a defamation notice against Gen VK Singh without its permission.

"The Government has put the CMD of BEML VRS Natarajan under suspension following a recommendation by the CBI that he should be kept away from the post to ensure fair investigation. The CBI is currently investigating into various charges against Natarajan," Defence Ministry spokesperson Sitanshu Kar said here.

"The charge of CMD has been given to P Dwarkanath, the senior most functional Director in BEML," he said.


FY13 to be turnaround year for Indian economy says Pranab

Following a disappointing economic growth of nine-year low of 6.5% in FY12, there have been concerns that India's expansion rate this fiscal may slip further

New Delhi: Dismissing concerns that India's growth rate may drop below 6.5%, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Monday said 2012-13 would be the turnaround year for the economy, reports PTI.

Addressing a conference of top officials of the Income Tax (I-T) Department, he said steps are being taken to put India back on path of high economic growth.

"We are taking all necessary steps to ensure that we come back to the path of the targeted GDP growth. Of course it will take some time...but from this year we expect to make a turn around," Mukherjee said.

In the Budget 2012-13, the government had pegged 2012-13 GDP growth at 7.6% (plus, minus 0.25%).

Following a "disappointing" economic growth of nine-year low of 6.5% in 2011-12, there have been concerns that India's expansion rate this fiscal may slip further.

Mukherjee said that after the 2008 economic crisis, the GDP growth slipped to 6.7% in 2008-09, but bounced back to 8.4% in the following two financial years.

Highlighting the positives in the economy, Mukherjee said interest rate cycle has been reversed and there is growth in mining sector, turnaround in investment growth rate and there are predictions of normal monsoon, besides decline in crude oil prices.

"All these factors should help in recovery of domestic growth momentum," he added.

On direct tax collection target of Rs5.70 lakh crore ($103 billion) for the current fiscal, he said it was achievable. "I do feel this target is moderate and can be achieved," he said while asking the tax officials to work "relentlessly" to improve tax collection.

In 2011-12, the direct collection at Rs4.95 lakh crore was marginally down from the revised target of Rs5.05 lakh crore.

Mukherjee said that while renewed growth momentum will help improve direct collection, there are several challenges before the I-T Department.

He expressed concern over decline in tax-GDP ratio and asked the officials to reverse the trend. The tax-GDP ratio has dropped to 10.5% in 2011-12, from 12% in 2007-08.

Mukherjee said the Direct Tax Code (DTC) Bill will be introduced in Parliament in the forthcoming Monsoon Session and would be affected from next fiscal.

"I am hoping that DTC will be effective from 1 April 2013," he said, adding that the time has come for the I-T Department to prepare itself for the transition from the Income Tax Act, 1961 to the new direct tax regime.

The Finance Minister further said the department has been striving to check the menace of black money and tax evasion, which eat into the vitals of the economy and pose threats to national security through linkages to money-laundering and terrorism.

He said the government has commissioned a study on unaccounted income and wealth and it is likely to be completed in September.

Also, a report of a committee on strengthening of existing laws relating to black money is being examined by the government.

"I hope that these two studies will help in identifying the gaps in present legislative and administrative framework and shall help us in checking the menace of black money through an effective policy response," Mukherjee added.

He also said introduction on the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act, 2011, currently being scrutinised by a Parliamentary Standing Committee, will further help in "our resolve to reduce the menace of black money".

Amid undeclared assets held by Indians abroad being a matter of "intense debate recently", Mukherjee said that to encourage and facilitate real time exchange of information on cross-border transactions with other jurisdictions, India has set up 8 more Income Tax Overseas Units (ITOUs).

After a comprehensive review of the existing network, steps are being taken to augment the reach of the ITOUs in more jurisdictions, he added.

Enlarged network of ITOUs, with an enabling legislative framework in the form of Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) and Tax Information Exchange Agreement (TIEAS), will help in receiving valuable information in future, he said.

On promoting voluntary compliance of tax laws and role of children, Mukherjee said there was a need to educate them on the importance of taxes for the nation building process.

He said the I-T Department has partnered with NCERT to introduce information in this regard in school textbooks.

He, however, expressed concern over rising litigation with tax payers and amount locked up in appeals before CIT (A), ITAT and different courts.

A whopping over Rs4.36 lakh crore was locked in about 2.59 lakh cases as on December 31, 2011.

The main reason for pendency of cases before CIT (A), he said, appears to be slower disposal rate vis-a-vis the pace of cases being filed. On an average, it takes about one and half years to dispose of a case.

"The Department needs to ensure that after proposed cadre restructuring sufficient manpower is deployed to reduce the time taken for disposal of appeals and that it is not more than six months" he added.

Mukherjee said he has been directing the I-T Department to reduce all avoidable litigation with the taxpayers as well as with employees.

"I have also asked CBDT to ensure that no charge sheets are filed on the last date of retirement," Mukherjee said.


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