Trade bodies are no one to pressurise on what to tax and what not to and similar retrospective amendment was made in UK last month and Vodafone was made to pay tax there, then why are they having problems in India? a senior official from the Indian government asked
New Delhi: The Indian government on Thursday brushed aside the pressure being built by the global trade bodies in the Rs11,000 crore Vodafone tax dispute case and asserted that the British telecom major cannot invoke the India-Netherlands investment treaty as the $11.2 billion deal was signed in Cayman islands, reports PTI.
"The trade bodies are no one to pressurise the government on what to tax and what not to. Similar retrospective amendment was made in UK last month and Vodafone was made to pay tax there. Then why are they having problems in India?" questioned a senior Finance Ministry official.
Several global bodies have written letters to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other ministers saying that the government's proposal to amend Income Tax Act to bring into tax net Vodafone-type overseas deals involving domestic assets would hurt foreign investment.
They have asked US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to raise the controversial issue at ongoing IMF-World Bank Spring Meetings at Washington and also with Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee during the bilateral talks.
Referring to the recent threat of Vodafone to invoke bilateral investment treaty with the Netherlands on the tax issue, the official said the arbitration clause in the Bilateral Investment Protection Agreement (BIPA) cannot apply in Vodafone-Hutchison deal as it was signed in Cayman islands.
"The deal happened in Cayman islands and they are invoking India-Netherlands BIPA," the finance ministry official said, adding "while in the Supreme Court Vodafone said that the deal happened outside India, under BIPA it is saying it has made substantial investment in India."
Earlier this week the Dutch Subsidiary of UK-based Vodafone served a 'dispute notice' to the government threatening international arbitration under the bilateral investment treaty between India and the Netherlands for retrospective amendment of Income Tax Act.
The proposed amendment in Finance Bill 2012, when approved, would bring overseas deals such as Vodafone's purchase of Hutchison under tax net and the UK-based telecom firm would be liable to pay Rs11,000 crore tax for its acquisition of Hutchison's stake in Hutchison Essar Ltd in 2007.
Vodafone, it may be mentioned, had earlier won the tax dispute case in the Supreme Court which held that the company was not liable to pay Rs11,000 crore stemming from its 2007 acquisition of Hutchison's stake in Hutchison-Essar.
Shailesh Gandhi, in a letter, underlined that transparency law has started making small difference in the "power equation between citizens and government," given hope of bringing correction, making citizens effective monitors of government, and helping to unravel corruption
New Delhi : Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi has written to Chief Justice of India (CJI) SH Kapadia about his recent remarks that irrelevant queries filed under the right to information (RTI) hampered the work of judiciary, saying this may "dampen the RTI journey" of the country, reports PTI.
In his letter to the CJI, Mr Gandhi said, "I would like to submit to you that transparency in governance is a cherished goal and all functionaries and instrumentalities of the Government should be striving for greater transparency and accountability. Your comments -- correctly reported -- may dampen the RTI journey of India."
The Chief Justice had said that while the RTI law was "good", certain information being sought such as about invitations, attending lunches and the like went beyond the limit. "There should be some limit to all these," the CJI had observed.
Contesting this, Mr Gandhi said, “Ideally there should be very few limits to fundamental rights of the citizens. These limits can only be set by Parliament which has already done this by codifying Right to Information in the RTI Act."
Mr Gandhi underlined that transparency law has started making small difference in the "power equation between citizens and government," given hope of bringing correction, making citizens effective monitors of government, and helping to unravel corruption.
"Sir, the Nation has very great respect for you, and your remarks could have significant negative impact on RTI. Various functionaries would quote your remarks to justify putting fetters on the citizen's right," he wrote.
Conceding that some people are using the RTI Act for trivial purposes, the Information Commissioner said, "this would apply to all rights and in fact to all actions of human beings in the society."
"It is possible to show cases where RTI may have been used in a trivial manner. Similarly, it would be possible to show that various progressive laws -- such as dowry Act.
Atrocities Act etc. -- may have been used in trivial manner or to harass innocent people. But all of us recognise the beneficial results of these, and do not talk of criticising them," Mr Gandhi said.
The Information Commissioner said most public authorities -- including information commissions and courts have not fulfilled the requirements of section four of the RTI Act, mandating suo moto disclosure of information, consequent to which they are then complaining about increasing RTI requests.
"The press reports claims that the time of judges is being occupied. This need not happen at all. In the information commission, public information officers (PIOs) send the information based on the records to various applicants without reference to the Commissioner. Ultimately the PIO's job is only to provide information that are available on records," he said.
The letter was in response to observations made by Chief Justice SH Kapadia during the hearing by a Constitution bench headed by him on the issue of laying down guidelines for media on covering court proceedings.
"In RTI matter, I have given all disclosures except in certain areas. Still questions are coming," he said and mentioned some of them, including invitations for lunch and his association with eminent jurist Nani Palkhivala.
"Different types of information are being sought. We have to save this institution of judiciary also and not only the press. We cannot accept all these. It is going beyond a limit. There should be some limit to all these," the CJI observed.
The introduction of Right to Service Acts by various state governments is a step in the right direction that will help in bringing about transparency, accountability and efficiency in public service, thereby reducing corruption in public places
“Government work is God’s work” so proclaims the entrance to the Vidhana Soudha, the seat of the government of Karnataka in Bangalore. In pursuance of this objective, the state government recently passed the Karnataka Guarantee of Services to Citizens Act, 2011, under which delivery of 151 services to citizens of the state have been made mandatory to be rendered in a time-bound manner with effect from 1 January, 2012.
This service is named as ‘Sakala’ in Kannada meaning ‘On Time’, and eleven government departments, namely local authority, transport, revenue, food and civil supplies, rural panchayat raj, home, education, health & family welfare, labour, women & child welfare and finance are required to provide services to the citizens within the time stipulated under the Act, failing which penalties will be levied on the employees who are responsible for the delay.
Services like birth and death certificates are to be delivered within three to seven days, caste certificates, age certificates, tax clearance certificates, identity cards for senior citizens, etc, are to be delivered within 21 days, driving licence, learner’s licence, ration cards, etc, are to be delivered within seven to 30 days according to the time stipulated under the rules. As per the Act, if these services are not delivered within the stipulated time, the government will compensate the applicant for the delay/default in rendering the services at the rate of Rs20 per day with a maximum of Rs500 per case. This compensation will be collected from the employee concerned who is responsible for such delay or default. A comprehensive methodology has been laid down in the Act with regard to claiming compensation, filing appeal against rejection, etc and if it is scrupulously followed, it will make life a little easier for the citizens of this state.
The purpose of this enactment is two-fold, i.e. to provide time-bound service to the citizens and to ensure that the need to give a bribe is totally avoided. The actual impact will be known only after sometime and hopefully, if it succeeds, it would be a great improvement over the present state of affairs in this state. Besides Karnataka, many other states, too, have introduced such enactments and the common framework of all these legislations in various states is granting of ‘right to public services’ and any failure to provide such service will result in levying penalty on the public servant for dereliction of duty. Madhya became the first state in India to enact the Right to Service Act on 18 August 2010. As per the information available on the Internet, the following states have introduced such enactments during this year