A bench headed by Chief Justice Altamas Kabir agreed to hear on Thursday the PIL, filed by retired woman lady IAS officer Promilla Shanker for setting up fast track courts across the country for speedy trial of rape cases
New Delhi: Agreeing to examine the issue of proper safety to women and stopping gender discrimination, the Supreme Court on Wednesday issued notices to the Centre and all states and also decided to hear another plea for creating fast-track courts for speedy trial of all rape cases, reports PTI.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Altamas Kabir will hear tomorrow a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking establishment of fast-track courts for trial of rape cases and for suspension of Members of Parliament (MPs) and Members of Legislative Assembly (MLAs) who have been charge-sheeted for crime against women.
Meanwhile, another bench of justices P Sathasivam and Ranjan Gogoi issued notices to the Centre and all the states and sought their responses to another PIL by advocate Mukul Kumar, seeking safety measures for women.
Kumar, in his PIL, demanded creation of women police stations in every town to investigate complaints of rape and sexual assault against women and implementation of UN convention on elimination of all forms of discrimination against women.
The court asked the Centre and the states to file their replies within four weeks.
In the backdrop of the nation-wide outrage over 16th December brutal gangrape and murder of a 23-year-old woman in Delhi, who died in a Singapore hospital on 29th December, a bench headed by Justice Altamas Kabir agreed to hear tomorrow the PIL, filed by a retired woman lady IAS officer Promilla Shanker for setting up fast track courts across the country for speedy trial of rape cases.
Promilla in her petition also demanded that cases of rape and crime against women and children be investigated by lady police officials and trial be also conducted by lady judges.
Promilla, in her petition, submitted that the apex court should intervene in the issue as one woman is raped every 40 minutes in the country and most of them remain unregistered.
"As per reports one woman is raped every 40 minutes in different parts of the country despite 90 percent of the cases remaining unregistered. After the ghastly gang rape incidence, more than 61 women and children are missing in Delhi and 9,000 young girls are reported to be victim of human trafficking and sex trade in Chhattisgarh which has gone unnoticed in the present national debate," the petition said.
"Punitive actions are being taken only after incidents were reported by media, but no preventive, reformatory or systematic improvements are being made by governments. People are increasingly getting frustrated by absence of deterrent effect of law on criminals and innocent people are suffering due to misuse of police power at behest of political system," she said.
She submitted that no effort is being made to address the deep-rooted problem on implementation of existing laws and empowerment of civil and judicial system.
The other petitioner, Kumar submitted that the plight of women in the country exposes the shortcomings that have beset the laws and they have to be removed.
"It is undisputed that women find the outside atmosphere increasingly unsafe. Even travelling on public transport is fraught with risks too, in addition to general discomfort.
Atrocities against women cannot be interpreted as just isolated instances of failing law and order," he said in his petition.
"In spite of international agreements, the denial of women’s basic human rights is persistent and widespread. As per a study, conducted by the Centre for Social Research (CSR), 18 women were tortured every hour in some way or the other across the country," the petition said.
He also submitted that in cases of honour killings, the concerned panchayat should be penalised and concerned persons be tried for murder charges.
The move comes in the backdrop of moderate growth in the indirect tax collection and the urgency to contain the fiscal deficit to the targeted 5.3% of the GDP
New Delhi: In a stern warning to evaders of excise, customs and service tax, the Indian government on Wednesday asked them to either pay the dues or face penal action which could include arrest, prosecution and property attachment, reports PTI.
"We are keeping a very close watch on such elements. They are advised to come forward and pay all taxes and avail of the benefit of reduced penalty," Revenue Secretary Sumit Bose told reporters.
Those who fail to pay excise duty, he warned, should be prepared to face consequences which would include "provisional attachment of property, arrest and prosecution, suspension of Cenvat credit and 100% penalty and interest".
The move comes in the backdrop of moderate growth in the indirect tax collection and the urgency to contain the fiscal deficit to the targeted 5.3% of the GDP.
The Indian Revenue Secretary said government would urge all assesses to ensure they make timely and correct payment of customs duty, excise duty and service tax for continued trade facilitation.
"It has been observed that a number of central excise assesses continue removing goods clandestinely, sometime even without registration, misusing Cenvat credit or simply not paying central excise duties which are due to the government in disregard of the law," he said.
With regard to Service tax, Bose said, it is also noticed that more than half of the service providers who are registered are not filing returns while a number of service providers who should be paying service tax now have not yet registered themselves.
"The Department has also gathered information that a number of service providers are collecting service tax from receivers of service but not depositing the tax with the government," Bose said.
"Let we warn them all such service providers will not only be liable to pay the service tax along with interest and penalty which may be equal to the service tax evaded, but they can also be prosecuted for these offences. Money due to them from a third party can be appropriated by the government," he added.
All services are taxable from 1 July 2012, except those in the negative list and exempted services.
On the customs side, Bose said, "We have seen that some importers and exporters are indulging in under-invoicing on import or over-invoicing in exports and mis-declaration of goods and are misusing exemptions and various incentive schemes, to evade customs duty".
When 70% of the consignments are being cleared by customs on self assessment basis, without any assessment and examination by Department, it is incumbent upon the importers or exporters to discharge their correct duty liability, he said.
Highlighting some unscrupulous elements are already on the radar of DRI (Directorate of Revenue Intelligence) and intelligence wings of customs houses, he said, such importers and exporters should be ready to face legal consequences including arrest and prosecution, besides payment of duty with interest, fine and penalty upto 100% of duty evaded.
"The only window for them is to come forward and deposit the duty now and avail of the benefit of reduced penalty," he said.
Indirect tax collection grew at a moderate rate of 16.8% to Rs 2.92 lakh crore in the April-November period as against the annual growth target of 27%.
The government in the current fiscal had proposed to collect from customs, excise and services tax Rs5.05 lakh crore, an increase of 27% over realisation in the previous fiscal.
The Finance Minister said the union government may be left with no choice but to make it a little more expensive to import gold as it is affecting foreign exchange reserves
"Demand for gold must be moderated... We may be left with no choice but to make it a little more expensive to import gold. The matter is under government consideration," he told reporters.
The CAD, which represents the difference between exports and imports after considering cash remittances and payment, has widened to $38.7 billion or 4.6% of the GDP during the first half of the current fiscal, he said.
This was mainly contributed by gold imports which amounted to $20.25 billion.
Had the gold imports been half of the actual level, Chidambaram said, "our foreign exchange reserves would have increased by $10.5 billion" as against the marginal accretion of $0.4 billion during April-September.
The country, the Minister said, "cannot afford to spend so much on importing gold. Nobody says gold within the country should not be used for whatever purpose. There is enough gold within the country. But import of gold is huge strain on the current account".
During 2011-12, gold imports stood at $56.2 billion.
On reports of smuggling of gold, Chidambaram said, it is mostly speculative. "May be some smuggling has taken place but whatever level of duty, there is always smuggling."
In order to curb demand of gold, the then Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee in his Budget last year had doubled the basic customs duty on standard gold bars to 4% and on non-standard gold to 10%.
There has been moderation of gold imports as a result of government policies during the first half of the current fiscal.
In value terms, gold imports at $20.2 billion in the April-September reflects a decline of 30.3% over the corresponding period a year ago.
The decline can partly be attributed to increase in customs duty on gold imports by government in January and March 2012.
As more is needed to be done, Chidambaram appealed to the people "moderate the demand for gold which leads to its large imports".
The main contributors to the widening CAD, Chidambaram said, were declining exports which slipped by 7.4% during the first half of the current financial year and rising imports which went up by 4.3% in the same period.
The gap in export and import, he added, was partly made up "by an increase in services exports of 4.2% and, consequently, surplus in services which amounted to $29.6 billion and remittances of $32.9 billion".
The CAD, the Minister said, was financed without drawing on country's foreign exchange reserves, mainly because of adequate inflows of FDI ($12.8 billion) and FII ($1.7 billion).
The net result, Chidambaram said, is that "we have not drawn on the foreign exchange reserves and, in fact, there is a marginal accretion of $0.4 billion to the reserves."