Taxation
Key differences in two bills on Goods, Services Tax
The original bill to amend the Constitution for introducing a pan-India Goods and Services Tax regime was moved by the United Progressive Alliance government in 2011. This bill lapsed. Here're the key differences between the lapsed bill and the one that was passed by the Lok Sabha on Wednesday:
 
- The original bill of 2011 was silent on the issue of compensating the states for the loss of revenue on account of a unified indirect tax regime. The new bill of 2014 wants the states to be compensated for five years.
 
- The amended version of the bill calls for a one-percent additional tax for a period of five years as additional compensation to go exclusively to the states where the said good is manufactured. The original bill has no mention of this.
 
- The original bill wanted exemptions from the unified Goods and Services Tax for specific petroleum products and alcohol, so as to leave it to the states to impose taxes on them. The new bill seeks to exempt not only alcohol and petroleum fuels, but also tobacco.
 
- The quorum set for the proposed Goods and Services Tax Council, under the chairmanship of the finance minister, has ben enhanced to one-half of the members from one-third earlier.
 
- On voting at the council meetings, the new bill says the decisions can be reached if one-fourth members are in favour, while the original bill was for decisions based entirely on consensus.
 
- The original bill called for a dispute settlement authority to be set up under a retired judge of the Supreme Court or the chief justice of a high court. The new bill deletes the provision and leaves it for the council to preside over such matters.
 
- The original bill was listed as the 115th amendment to the Constitution, while the new one passed by the Lok Sabha on Wednesday is for the 122nd amendment.

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RS passes Bangladesh land boundary bill
The Rajya Sabha on Wednesday passed the bill to operationalise the Land Boundary Agreement with Bangladesh, and the entailing exchange of enclaves between the two countries.
 
The Constitution (One Hundred and Nineteenth Amendment) Bill, 2013, was unanimously passed by the upper house, with 180 votes in favour and none against it.
 
Moving the bill for passage, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj clarified that no movement of population was necessitated by the exchange of enclaves.
 
"If Indians in Bangladeshi enclaves want to stay there, they will be given Bangladeshi citizenship and if Bangladeshis living in Indian enclaves want to stay, they will be given Indian citizenship," she said.
 
The bill, which the Bharatiya Janata Party, Asom Gana Parishad and Trinamool Congress had opposed when it was brought by the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government in 2013, amends the First Schedule of the Constitution to give effect to an agreement entered into by India and Bangladesh on the acquiring and transfer of territories between the two countries on May 16, 1974.
 
In 2011, then prime minister Manmohan Singh and Bangladeshi Premier Sheikh Hasina had signed the land swap deal known as the Land Boundary Agreement (LBA).
 
The constitutional amendment bill to operationalise the agreement was introduced in the Rajya Sabha in 2013 but could not be passed due to stiff opposition.
 
When the Narendra Modi government came in power, the bill was again sent to the standing committee on the external affairs ministry, and a report was presented in December 2014.
 
The First Schedule defines the area of each state and union territory which together constitute India.
 
The bill to operationalise the agreement with Bangladesh includes exchange of territories in Assam, West Bengal, Tripura and Meghalaya, and was cleared by the union cabinet at a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Modi on Tuesday.

 

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Court summons Jindal, Koda in coal block case
A court here on Wednesday issued summons to industrialist Naveen Jindal, former Jharkhand chief minister Madhu Koda and others in the coal block allocation case.
 
The others, who were issued summons, included former union minister of state for coal Dasari Narayan Rao and former coal secretary H.C. Gupta. 
 
Special Judge Bharat Parashar issued the summons against Jindal, Koda, Rao, Gupta and 11 other accused in the case and asked them to appear on May 22. 
 
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on April 29 filed a chargesheet against Jindal, Koda, Rao, Gupta with six other individuals -- Gyan Swaroop Garg, Suresh Singhal, Rajeev Jain, Girish Kumar Juneja, R.K. Saraf and K. Ramakrishna. 
 
Five private companies -- four based in Delhi and one in Hyderabad -- have also been named in the chargesheet.
 
The companies named in the chargesheet are Jindal Steel and Power Ltd., Gagan Sponge Iron Pvt. Ltd., Jindal Reality Pvt. Ltd., New Delhi Exim Pvt. Ltd. and Sowbhagya Media Ltd.
 
The CBI has formally charged them with criminal conspiracy, cheating and various provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.
 
The case relates to the allocation of Jharkhand's Amarkonda Murgadangal coal block to Jindal Steel and Gagan Sponge.
 
The agency said the Amarkonda Murgadangal coal block allocation was recommended by the 35th screening committee.
 
"It was alleged that two steel and iron companies based in Delhi misrepresented facts to get coal blocks. Also, there was alleged investment in a Hyderabad-based firm from the group of companies based at Delhi," said a CBI official.
 
Rao was the union minister of state for coal between 2006 and 2009 when the irregularities allegedly took place.
 
According to the official, searches were conducted on June 11, 2013 at 19 locations in Delhi and Hyderabad in connection with the case.

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