Citizens' Issues
IAS officer Ashok Khemka transferred by Haryana govt again

Just six months ago Khemka was transferred after he alleged several irregularities in land deals involving businessman Robert Vadra and DLF

Government of Haryana has transferred Ashok Khemka, the senior officer from the Indian Administrative Services (IAS) on Thursday, for the second time in less than six months. Khemka was first transferred after he alleged several irregularities in land deals involving businessman Robert Vadra and realty giant DLF. Vadra is the son-in-law of Congress president Sonia Gandhi.


Khemka, currently Managing Director or Haryana Seeds Development Corporation, has been posted as Secretary, Haryana Archives, relieving Vikas Yadav of the charge, an official release said.


Khemka was shifted from the director general for Consolidation of Land Holdings and Land Records-cum-Inspector General of Registration to the Seed Development Corporation in October last year, shortly after he initiated a probe into the land dealings between Vadra and DLF.

However, this has also affected popular sedans like Maruti SX4, Toyota Corolla Altis and Honda Civic.


Speaking on the sidelines of the Hero Mindmine Summit, Patel said the SUV tax has hurt vehicles like “Sumo and Bolero, which are used in rural areas to transport people.”


Stating that he has taken up the matter with finance minister P Chidambaram, Patel said, "I suggested that any vehicle below Rs10 lakh may be brought out of the definition.”


He said the objective must be to "dis-incentivise people who use high-end cars" and for them "not to be subsidised by cheap diesel."


Patel said the automobile industry has 'merit and justification' in seeking a re-look at the higher tax on SUVs.



SEBI looking at I-T relief for RGESS investors in failed NFOs

SEBI is looking to find a process which guarantees that tax savers who invested under the RGESS are not affected by matters completely beyond their control, like an NFO failure

Market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) said it is looking at how the interests of investors in the Rajiv Gandhi Equity Savings Scheme (RGESS) can be safeguarded with regard to income tax (I-T) relief in case the fund houses return their money for failing to raise the targeted amount.
SEBI chairman UK Sinha told reporters that “We are looking into it and will soon come out with an approach paper on this. We do not want the people, who have legitimately applied in the hope of getting tax relief, to suffer. I am not saying there will be relaxations; I am just saying we are looking into it.” 
As per SEBI regulations, if a new fund offer (NFO) is not able to garner the minimum amount, the fund house has to return the money to investors within a certain period, failing which it has to pay penal interest of 15% to the investor.
However, in that case, the investors would miss income tax relief to which they were otherwise entitled.
“We have to find a process where the tax-savers are not left with disadvantages for reasons beyond their control,” Sinha said.
With some fund houses not being able to mop up the minimum subscription for the RGESS, they would be required to return the money to all those who had invested in the scheme.


Mumbai commuters fuming over another hike in auto and taxi fares from 1st May

Not that BEST and the railways have spared Mumbai commuters, but auto and taxi fares will go up on 1st May, leaving many fuming

The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Transport Authority (MMRTA), which is scheduled to meet this month, is reportedly pondering a hike in auto and taxi fare from 1st May. This has left several commuters fuming as they are already burdened with the recent fare hikes from BEST and the railways.


According to media reports, the unions of auto and taxi drivers believe that the fare would go up by at least Re1 due to increase in cost of living index from October 2012 to March 2013.


"The increase in fares has already been steep, to the extent that, where possible, commuters are avoiding autos. The deal is very unfair for passengers. Mumbai commuters' woes have multiplied manifold after the clamp down by the RTO on 'meter tampering' by auto and taxi drivers. Seeing refusals to ply and the callous attitude of the drivers, even the thought of such demands is most disturbing," said MS Mirchandani in an email.


Last year, the state government accepted the recommendation of one-man Hakim Committee, which, among other things, said that auto and taxi fares should be revised every May based on various factors, including cost of living index.


"As far as the date on which fare revisions are to be effected, it should preferably be on the first of May (since the impact of different taxes and levies imposed by the Central and state budgets will be known by then). The revision should be made on 1 May 2013, and on every 1st May thereafter," the Hakim Committee had said.


Mr Mirchandani said, "If the demands, as spelt out, are acceded to, auto and taxi drivers will be better off than most people in the organised sector. Bear in mind that though the drivers have bargaining power, they are not in the organised sector per se that they can demand long term benefits. And India is not a welfare state."


Mumbai Grahak Panchayat, a consumer organisation, had already challenged the Hakim Committee report and the matter is in court.


According to Mr Mirchandani, the demand (of auto and taxi driver unions) covers many items repeatedly. "Rightly, the Committee has dropped the demand for including 'fines' paid to the police and other authorities for violations of law. Future demands can also cover and provide for cost of idle running; LTA; inflation adjusted accounting; contribution to PF, Gratuity, NPS, ESIC and compensation for not driving an auto when ill (some kind of 'loss of profit' policy). Many other heads can be added to further boost the figures and the 'inflated' claims," he added.


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