Maharashtra to scrap Local Body Tax
Maharashtra Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar on Wednesday announced the scrapping of the contentious Local Body Tax (LBT) while presenting in the state assembly a Rs.198,000 crore budget for 2015-16 that has a deficit of Rs.3,070 crore and a plan size of Rs.54,999 crore.
The LBT is scheduled to be scrapped from August 1 and the loss of around Rs.6,875 to the civic bodies, barring Mumbai, will be compensated by enhancing the Value Added Tax (VAT) rate across the state, he said.
Presenting a budget with focus on infrastructure, irrigation and tackling the agrarian crises in the state, Mungantiwar refrained from imposing any significant tax burden on the people.
However, he announced a premium on the additional floor space index availed by builders for construction purposes.
An allocation of Rs.109 crore has been made for the proposed Mumbai Metro 3 Project, which is currently facing stiff opposition from the people likely to be displaced and apprehensions of cutting down many trees in the city.
The minister said the budget was not based on expenditure but was target-oriented and important for tribals, farmers and minorities, poor and downtrodden.
Among the major highlights of the proposals are: freeing 223,000 farmers who have availed private loans from moneylenders, completing on priority 38 pending irrigation projects with an allocation of Rs.7272 crore, seed bank to preserve seeds traditionally used by the farmers in the state and Rs.1,000 crore allocation for water conservation projects to combat drought under Jalyukt Shivaj Yojana.
Mungantiwar announced a Rs.2,413 crore project to build rural roads in the state, an Aadmar Adarsh Gaon Yojana on the lines of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's scheme of each MPs adopting villages and plans to overhaul the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation.
For Mumbai, an amount of Rs.100 crore has been allocated for the grand memorials for Chhatrapati Shivaji in the Arabian Sea off the city coast and another for Dr. B.R. Ambedkar in central Mumbai, free WiFi at certain places in Mumbai under a tourist promotion scheme, a 1000-bed super-speciality hospital to be constructed in the campus of Sir J.J. Group of Hospitals and constructing a war memorial for Paramvir Chakra winners.
The state will construct 100,000 homes costing Rs.884 crore for the poor, an amount of Rs.268 crore would be spent on the Smart Cites Project, a skill development scheme named after the late Pramod Mahajan to come up, a school of planning and architecture in Aurangabad, special schemes for minority-dominated towns of Bhiwandi, Miraj and Malegaon.
Women earning upto Rs.10,000 per month will be exempted from paying profession tax, a five percent tax will be levied on mixed spices, taxes on labbooks, workbooks and graphbooks for students waived off, tax on LED bulbs slashed from 12.5 percent to five percent.
A biometric system of monitoring attendance for students and teachers in government-aided schools has been proposed and a state-evel 'Mazi Kanya, Bhagyashree' on the lines of the centre's 'Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao Scheme' will be introduced.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis welcomed the budget proposals terming them as growth oriented and with many positive schemes for the farming community.
Maharashtra Congress President Ashok Chavan criticised the budget for making a shower of empty promises, questioned how the growth rate which stood at 8-10 percent for 15 years came down to 5.7 percent in the 138 days of the BJP-Shiv Sena rule.



Nifty, Sensex moving sideways; Bank Nifty in an uptrend still – Wednesday closing report

Nifty should close above 8,700 to gain momentum


We had mentioned in Tuesday’s closing report that the NSE’s CNX Nifty may record more gains if it manages to close above 8,750. The 50-share index opened below this level and moved lower. It tried reviving which made it reach yesterday’s close. However, the benchmark lost its strength and moved lower. Nifty managed to stay above the previous day’s low.
The S&P BSE Sensex opened at 28,767 while Nifty opened at 8,743. Sensex moved in the range of 28,547 and 28,807 before closing at 28,622 (down 114 points or 0.40%). Nifty moved from the level of 8,664 to 8,747 and closed at 8,686 (down 37 points or 0.43%). Bank Nifty continued closing in the green today. Bank Nifty opened at 19,080 and hit a high of 19,234 from the low of 18,937 and closed at 19,147 (up 89 points or 0.47%). NSE recorded a volume of 92.14 crore shares. India VIX rose 2.55% to close at 15.5125.
Telecom spectrum auction, which started on 4 March 2015 has fetched the Indian government Rs1.07 lakh crore up to 17 March 2015. Majority of service areas are going at a premium over reserve price. There is still spectrum, which is yet to be sold.
Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had said that the Narendra Modi government’s commitment to broadening access to formal finance to all segments of the population through the ambitious Jan Dhan Yojana is impressive and so are the results, which were achieved in just a few months.
Minister of State for Civil Aviation Dr Mahesh Sharma in a written reply in Rajya Sabha stated said that the Government is concerned over financial health of all airlines since fuel constitutes about 40-50% of cost of operation of an airline. Ministry of Finance was requested to include aviation turbine fuel (ATF) under declared goods, Sharma said. State governments have also been requested to reduce VAT on ATF in their respective states, he added.
Improvement in the asset quality of Indian banks and growth in credit offtake is likely to take more time as the problems in mining and infrastructure sectors are yet to be resolved, rating agency S&P said today.
The Business Outlook survey, conducted by financial information provider Markit, showed that companies in India do not seem to be very optimistic about production growth in various sectors over the next year. According to a survey conducted in February, their confidence has grown at the lowest pace in a year.
The Indian government may announce a 10% cut in domestic natural gas price to $5.02 per million British thermal unit (mmbtu) effective 1st April, in line with the global decline in the price of liquefied natural gas.
India's exports grew marginally by 0.88% to $286.58 billion during the April- February period of the current fiscal, government said today.
Market regulator SEBI plans to change the rule that will make it easier for home-grown start-ups to list their shares on local bourses, helping domestic investors to bet on the country's booming online economy. One of the main items that could be scrapped is the need to detail the use of proceeds from the initial public offering of shares, they said.
The government has decided to divest its stake in BHEL next fiscal. Other state-run companies, which are on the block, include NMDC, NALCO and IOC, with 10% stake sale proposal each. This is a step towards raising of Rs41,000 crore stake sale target for 2015-16.
Coming back to Indian stock markets, Suzlon Energy (10.90%) was the top gainer in ‘A’ group on the BSE. PMC Fincorp (9.63%) was again the top loser in ‘A’ group on the BSE today.
Reliance Industries (1.39%) was the top gainer in the Sensex 30 pack. BNP Paribas upgraded it to “buy” from “hold” and made an upward revision in the target price.
NTPC (3.11%) was the top loser in Sensex 30 stock. According to media reports, government is in the process of selling 10% stake in NTPC. 
On Tuesday, US indices closed mostly in the red. The Federal Reserve may soon lay the groundwork for its first interest rate hike in nearly a decade, as it continues to weigh whether the US recovery can hold up against collapsing oil prices and a soaring dollar.
US housing finance companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac could require more bailouts from US taxpayers as risks are rising due to shrinking reserves, an internal watchdog for the firms' regulator said on Wednesday. These two firms had been bailed out in 2008 financial crisis.
Asian indices showed mixed performance. Shanghai Composite (2.13%) while NZSE 50 (0.99%) was the top loser.
European indices were showing mixed performance while US Futures were trading in the red.


CIC bows before ‘stubborn’ political parties

Once again the audacity and brazenness of six major political parties in not appearing before the CIC hearing on 16th March came to light 


When the wrong doers remain stubborn about not following laws, should they get away by the concerned authority throwing up its hands although it has the right to put them in place? Well, the jury of the Central Information Commission (CIC) has exactly done that with the six major political parties, who refused to be declared as public authorities and be embedded in the Right to Information (RTI) Act as per its 2013 order, being let off.
In a shocking decision on 16th March, on Monday, the Commission observed in its order that the RTI Act does not provide the CIC with ample powers to deal with the cases of contempt and non-compliance. The jury comprising information commissioners - Manjula Prasher, Sharat Sabharwal and Vijai Sharma has sent a copy to the Department of Personnel & Training (DoPT) asking it to check out the way to overcome the problem of political parties not legally bound to CIC decision as they are not government department and also that, they cannot be penalised. (see Box for the verbatim extract of the CIC decision).  
The CIC did not take any action against the political parties – Indian National Congress (Congress), Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Communist Party of India (Marxist)-CPI (M), Communist Party of India (CPI), Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). It has merely reminded in its order that its 3 June 2013 order which declared political parties as public authorities and therefore bound by the RTI Act is “legally correct, and final.”
CIC also recommends that “complainants are at liberty, in view of the facts and circumstances of this case, to approach the higher courts for appropriate relief and redressal.”

RTI activist Subhash Agrawal and the Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR) had persistently followed up the issue through RTI documents and thorough investigations of how the major political parties are majorly funded by the government. They had gone into second appeal to the CIC which has time and again called the political parties for hearings but they have unanimously stayed or remained absent.
ADR in a release said that it would file a petition in the court. The statement says, “ADR is going to file a petition in the Court asking for action against these six National Political Parties for non-compliance and contempt of the 3 June 2013 order as well as its implementation; CIC’s decision that law is silent on non-compliance is not correct. CIC should go by the spirit of the law and not the letter; Preamble of the RTI act as well the Sections 18, 19 and 20 gives ample powers to CIC to take action on non-compliance by the way of levying fine and awarding compensation, CIC therefore through this order is only abrogating its own power and authority. CIC is not a court of law. It is only a quasi-judicial body. Therefore, it should not go into the technicalities of the law.’’
Venkatesh Nayak, research scholar and member of Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) opines that the CIC has shown spinelessness through its decision and it is a big blow to the transparency. In a note put up in public view, he states, “The CIC's decision unwittingly or otherwise ends up creating an impression that it lacks the power (or 'mettle' or 'spunk' or 'spine' whichever expression you prefer) to ensure compliance with its orders.’’
Nayak says this is not the first instance where the CIC was faced with a situation of non-compliance. In 2009 when the CIC faced a similar situation where the DoPT persistently refused to comply with its order regarding providing access to "file notings", in accordance with the provisions of the RTI Act. Nayak says “the CIC issued notice about launching criminal action against the DoPT under the following provisions of the Indian Penal Code: Section 166 - Public servant disobeying law with intent to cause injury to any person; Section 187 - Omission to assist public servant when bound by law to give assistance; and; Section 188 - Disobedience to order duly promulgated by a public servant. These offences invite fines and a prison term from two months to one year. When threatened with legal action, the DoPT fell in line. Incidentally, the RTI applicant in this case is also a complainant in the current political parties' non-compliance case. Strangely, the CIC does not seem to have adopted such a course of action in the current case.’’

CIC decision of 16th March

The following is decided:
(a) the respondents are not in compliance with the Commission's order of 03.06.2013 and the RTI Act. The respondents, as public authorities, have not implemented the directions contained in the Commission's order and there is no evidence of any intention to do so;

(b) the submissions made by the complainants for the imposition of penalty and the award of compensation are not allowed in view of legal considerations;

(c) the prayer for making recommendations to public authorities, reference para 68(6), above, is not allowed;
(d) a copy of this order be sent to the Department of Personnel and Training, Government of India, for taking action as deemed appropriate for addressing the legal gaps and issues that have come to light during the hearings, including those mentioned in para 68(7) above, with a view to ensuring compliance of this Commission's orders;

(e) the complainants are at liberty, in view of the facts and circumstances of this case, to approach the higher courts for appropriate relief and redressal. It is ordered that an authenticated copy of this order be sent to the parties through registered post. With this order of the Commission, the case is closed.

(Vinita Deshmukh is consulting editor of Moneylife, an RTI activist and convener of the Pune Metro Jagruti Abhiyaan. She is the recipient of prestigious awards like the Statesman Award for Rural Reporting which she won twice in 1998 and 2005 and the Chameli Devi Jain award for outstanding media person for her investigation series on Dow Chemicals. She co-authored the book “To The Last Bullet - The Inspiring Story of A Braveheart - Ashok Kamte” with Vinita Kamte and is the author of “The Mighty Fall”.)




Parimal Shah

2 years ago

The more the political parties try to hide the more their slip shows.

Ajay Chaudhary

2 years ago

There is no mention of AAM AADMI PARTY in the article then where is the need to show them in the photo. Is this deliberately done to show AAP in a poor light. We expect better and unbiased journalistic standards from Moneylife.

Ajay Chaudhary

2 years ago

There is no mention of AAM AADMI PARTY in the article then where is the need to show them in the photo. Is this deliberately done to show AAP in a poor light. We expect better and unbiased journalistic standards from Moneylife.


2 years ago

The first perk of joining India's acronymous (IAS/IPS/MLA/MP/SC/ST/LLB/MBBS etc) ruling scum is being above the law.

Dr V S Prasanna Rajan

2 years ago

Submission of some suggestions with regard to the recent order of CIC conceding to the non-compliance of its order by the Political Parties

With reference to the suggestions mentioned above and I hereby submit some of my suggestions for a way out of the non-compliance of the order of the CIC by the political parties.

An appeal u/s 19(9) of the RTI act, 2005 can be filed by the complainants, before the CIC , to review its recent order conceding to the non-compliance of its order by the political parties along the following lines-

1. Sections 19(7), 19(8)(a), read with section 22 of the RTI Act, 2005, permits the Central Information Commission to take appropriate legal steps to ensure the compliance of its order issued within the scheme of the RTI act.

2. Section 14 of the General Clauses Act, 1897, empowers the CIC, to use such legal provisions as per the facts and circumstances of the case, to ensure the compliance of its orders, which
has attained finality in law.

3. It has been held by the Honorable Supreme court in Sakiri Vasu vs State of UP in paras.18-22 that -

" 18. It is well-settled that when a power is given to an authority to do something it includes such incidental or implied powers which would ensure the proper doing of that thing. In other words, when any power is expressly granted by the statute, there is impliedly included in the grant, even without special mention, every power and every control the denial of which would render the grant itself ineffective. Thus where an Act confers jurisdiction it impliedly also grants the power of doing all such acts or employ such means as are essentially necessary to its execution.

19. The reason for the rule (doctrine of implied power) is quite apparent. Many matters of minor details are omitted from legislation. As Crawford observes in his Statutory Construction (3rd edn. page 267):-

If these details could not be inserted by implication, the drafting of legislation would be an indeterminable process and the legislative intent would likely be defeated by a most insignificant omission .

20. In ascertaining a necessary implication, the Court simply determines the legislative will and makes it effective. What is necessarily implied is as much part of the statute as if it were specifically written therein.

21. An express grant of statutory powers carries with it by necessary implication the authority to use all reasonable means to make such grant effective. Thus in ITO, Cannanore vs. M.K. Mohammad Kunhi, AIR 1969 SC 430, this Court held that the income tax appellate tribunal has implied powers to grant stay, although no such power has been expressly granted to it by the Income Tax Act.

22. Similar examples where this Court has affirmed the doctrine of implied powers are Union of India vs. Paras Laminates AIR 1991 SC 696, Reserve Bank of India vs. Peerless General Finance and Investment Company Ltd AIR 1996 SC 646 (at p. 656), Chief Executive Officer & Vice Chairman Gujarat Maritime Board vs. Haji Daud Haji Harun Abu 1996 (11) SCC 23, J.K. Synthetics Ltd. vs. Collector of Central Excise, AIR 1996 SC 3527, State of Karnataka vs. Vishwabharati House Building Co-op Society 2003 (2) SCC 412 (at p.432) etc."

4. Sections 166,174 of the IPC empowers the CIC to invoke such provisions to ensure the attendance of the respondents in compliance with its summons as well as to make the delinquent respondents accountable for the non-compliance of its orders.

5. Moreover, the CIC, did not invoke the powers conferred u./s 195(1)(a)(1) CrPC to file a compliant through its secretary / registrar to the jurisdictional magistrate court for the offences u/ss 166,174,188 IPC committed by the delinquent respondents.

6. Hence, the aforementioned facts can be highlighted in the appeal u/s 19(9) of the RTI act, 2005 before the CIC, to review its recent order conceding to the non-compliance of its order by the political parties.

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