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Supreme Court to hear petitions over Article 370 from Nov 14

The court did not grant urgent hearing on the pleas saying that it is unreasonable to think that decision would be taken before October 31.

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New Delhi, Oct 1 : The Supreme Court on Tuesday said that it will hear the pleas challenging the decision to abolish the Constitution’s Article 370 that granted special status to Jammu and Kashmir from November 14, while granting four weeks time to the Centre to file a response on the batch of petitions.

A five-judge constitution bench, headed by Justice N.V. Ramana, also granted time to Jammu and Kashmir to file a response on the pleas and thereafter granted one week time to the petitioners to file a rejoinder on the government’s response.

Attorney General K.K. Venugopal and Solicitor General Tushar Mehta sought time to file a counter-affidavit on the pleas, saying that they need more time to file responses. They also told the court there are 10 writ petitions with different averments.

At this, the bench observed that reasonable time should be given to the Centre and Jammu and Kashmir administration to file their counter response to commence the further hearing in the issue.

The petitions have challenged the Constitutional validity of the Centre’s decision and subsequent Presidential orders on scrapping the provisions of the article, which actually made it a dead letter in the Constitution. They have also challenged the bifurcation of the state into Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.

Meanwhile, the top court also directed the registry not to entertain any fresh pleas challenging the revocation of Article 370. “We can’t have an unending process of filing of writ petitions in the matter. Whatever has been filed has already been filed,” the bench said.

However, it clarified that there is no bar on entertaining petitions dealing with other issues related to Article 370. The bench also asked the Registrar to verify and report to it on the pending petitions dealing with similar issues when it was apprised by some of the counsel that they had filed pleas challenging the existence of provisions of Articles 370 and 35-A much before the Centre’s decision to remove it.

Meanwhile, the petitioner’s lawyers seeking urgent hearing and status quo on Jammu and Kashmir issues told the court that as per new legislation, the state of Jammu and Kashmir would become two separate Union Territories on October 31.

The petitioner also said that the process will be irreversible and the petitions must not be rendered infructuous.

However, the court did not grant urgent hearing on the pleas saying that it is unreasonable to think that decision would be taken before October 31.

The court also pulled up advocate M.L. Sharma, saying that he cannot be entertained first as he was the first to approach the court.

The court also pointed out that there was nothing in his petition, which was only being entertained due to other pleas challenging the decision. The court said it does not believe in the concept of fastest finger first.

India

No Material Found Against P Chidambaram In 63 Moons Case, Says CBI

CBI lawyer Hiten Venegavkar told a division bench of Justices Sadhana Jadhav and N J Jamadar that the complaint filed by the firm has been forwarded to the Chief Vigilance Officer of the Department of Economic Affairs.

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chidambaram

Mumbai: The CBI on Thursday told the Bombay High Court that it did not find any material to substantiate the allegations made by 63 moons technologies against former finance minister P Chidambaram and two others.

CBI lawyer Hiten Venegavkar told a division bench of Justices Sadhana Jadhav and N J Jamadar that the complaint filed by the firm has been forwarded to the Chief Vigilance Officer of the Department of Economic Affairs.

The court was hearing a petition filed by the Jignesh Shah-promoted company, earlier known as Financial Technologies Ltd, questioning “delayed” action by the Central Bureau of Investigation against Chidambaram and bureaucrats K P Krishnan and Ramesh Abhishek.

On February 15, 2019, 63 moons technologies filed a complaint with the CBI. It alleged that the senior Congress leader and the other two abused their official positions and caused damage to the company when the multi-crore payment default scam at National Spot Exchange Limited (NSEL) came to light.

Mr Chidambaram was finance minister, Abhishek was chairman of the Forward Markets Commission and Krishnan an additional secretary and joint secretary in the Ministry of Finance when the scam came to light in 2012-13.

The trio took “malicious and malafide” action against it, the company alleged. Advocate Venegavkar said the CBI verified the complaint, but “we have not found any material as of now to substantiate the allegations made by the petitioner”.

The CBI also said in an affidavit that the petitioner did not submit any supporting documents.

“In the absence of any supporting documents in support of the allegations and due to the technical nature of the complaint, the same has been forwarded to the Chief Vigilance Officer, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance for expert examinations,” the affidavit said.

“It was informed in the letter dated February 25, 2020 that the matter may be reverted to CBI along with due approval of the competent authority under section 17 (A) of the Prevention of Corruption Act for taking up formal investigation,” it said.

Till then, the agency cannot conduct any probe, the affidavit added.

Senior counsel Aabad Ponda, appearing for 63 moons, argued that as the complaint alleges corruption and criminal conspiracy at high level, an inquiry must be conducted.

The hearing was adjourned for three months.

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NIA questions 2 Delhi University teachers in connection with Elgaar Parishad

This comes just over a fortnight after the NIA arrested a DU teacher – associate professor Hany Babu M T, who teaches English – citing his alleged involvement in the same case.

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DU P K Vijayan

Two Delhi University (DU) teachers – P K Vijayan from Hindu College and Rakesh Ranjan from Shri Ram College of Commerce (SRCC) – were questioned on Friday by the National Investigating Agency (NIA) in connection with the Elgaar Parishad case.

This comes just over a fortnight after the NIA arrested a DU teacher – associate professor Hany Babu M T, who teaches English – citing his alleged involvement in the same case.

All three were involved in the Committee for the Defence and Release of G N Saibaba, a former Political Science teacher of DU convicted of having Maoist links. Their membership of the committee was also allegedly in focus during the duo’s questioning.

According to Vijayan, both of them were summoned at 10 am and were allowed to go around 8.30 pm. He said Ranjan was interrogated first, and he was made to wait until Ranjan’s questioning got over.

“My interrogation began around 4 pm; then he was made to wait. Their focus was on the Bhima Koregaon violence and my role in the Saibaba defence committee,” Vijayan said. The NIA investigators, Vijayan said, told him that their names had come up during the probe – “so they just wanted to us to clarify.”

Ranjan, who teaches Economics at SRCC, did not respond to calls and texts.

Student groups of both colleges released statements condemning the questioning.

The NIA is investigating the connection between “provocative speeches” made at an Elgaar Parishad event on December 31, 2017 and the caste violence in Bhima Koregaon in Pune the following day.

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‘Tax Terrorism’, ‘Raid Raj’ are hallmarks of Modi govt alleges Congress

Congress has alleged that ‘honouring the honest’ scheme is yet another ‘amnesty scheme’ to ‘honour the dishonest’ and said that the Bharatiya Janata Party’s legacy is amnesty schemes for tax evaders and converting black money to white.

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Randeep Surjewala

New Delhi: A day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the new taxation scheme and launched the ‘Transparent Taxation – Honouring the Honest’ platform among other reforms.

Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala in a statement said, “Prime Minister Narendra Modi yesterday re-published the speech he delivered on February 14, 2020. Except for managed news headlines, PM’s announcements ended up being a ‘Zero-Sum Game’. Income Tax arrears under dispute have increased by 129 per cent in the last five years – and the stark reality of Modi government’s ‘Transparent Taxation’ is that income tax arrears have surged many fold.”

Citing the Budget 2020, the Congress said Rs 9,40,000 crore worth of ‘direct tax’ amount is under dispute. Of this, demands related to corporate tax amount to Rs 4,88,000 crore while taxes on income and other heads amount to Rs 4,50,000 crore. In contrast thereto, direct tax arrears as on March 2014 were only Rs 4,10,000 Crore, total increase of 129 percent in five years.

The party said the demands relating to “indirect taxes” of commodities/services amount to Rs 1,69,000 crore, taking total outstanding to Rs 11,09,000 cores. Is this “transparent taxation” or “insurmountable taxation”? asked Surjewala.

The party in a statement said “target based” tax collection is the new “tax terrorism”. Due to the target based tax collection system, Income Tax Receivables (ITR) that are under dispute have reached Rs 6,23,539 crore (according to the documents of the interim budget 2019-20). Of these, taxes due by companies or corporation tax, have touched nearly Rs 4,00,000 crore.

Questioning the government’s intention, Surjewala said, “Is announcing ‘three amnesty schemes’ back to back honouring the honest? Repeated voluntary disclosure schemes are only meant to serve the ‘dishonest’ at the cost of the ‘honest’. These are convert “black money into white” schemes.”

The Congress said for Government that came to power promising to bring back Rs 80,00,000 crore worth of ‘black money’ from abroad, these ‘amnesty schemes’ expose the jumlas sold to the people, he added.

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