Yashwant Sinha quits BJP

Former Finance Minister and BJP leader Yashwant Sinha, who has had a running battle with his party over several issues – his battle with current Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is well known – has finally quit the party. He made this announcement in Patna and said that he was taking “sanyas” from politics as well. The 80-year-old Sinha, whose son Jayant is the current junior minister in the finance department of the Union government, said: “Today I am ending all ties with the BJP”. Though he has said that he would not be having any truck with any political party, he also said that democracy in India was under threat. He was speaking at an opposition rally in the state capital. —India Legal Bureau…
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Patiala House Court to hear defamation suit against Kumar Vishwas related to his remarks against Jaitley

The Patiala House Court will hear a civil defamation case against AAP leader Kumar Vishwas on May 11. The case pertains to his alleged derogatory remarks against Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in connection to his tenure as the President of the Delhi & District Cricket Association (DDCA). Earlier, Vishwas had disagreed to write a letter to Jaitley asking for reconciliation while his other  party members such as Arvind Kejriwal, Sanjay Singh, Ashutosh, Deepak Bajpai and Raghav Chadha  had written the letters tendering a sincere apology to Jaitley. —India Legal Bureau…
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Delhi HC allows Kejriwal and Jaitley to “settle” one of the two civil defamation suits filed over the alleged defamatory statements

The Delhi High Court on Monday (April 3) allowed Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal to “settle” one of the two civil defamation suits filed over the alleged defamatory statements made against Jaitley by Kejriwal taking the note of the letter in which Delhi CM apologised for his remarks. The bench headed by Justice Manmohan also noted that Union Finance Minister has accepted the apology tendered by the Chief Minister by way of a letter. The bench said that both the party shall be bound by their settlement. In view of the letter written by Kejriwal to Jaitley, the bench disposed of the defamation suit filed over the alleged scandalous remarks made by AAP leaders’ ex-lawyer Ram Jethmalani.On April 2, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and four of his Aam Aadmi Party leaders had tendered a “sincere apology” to Arun Jaitley, conceding that the allegations made by them over the union finance minister’s alleged corruption during his 13-year stint as head of the Delhi and District Cricket Association were “unfounded and unwarranted”. In the apology letter, Kejriwal had said: “I had made certain statements about you and your family in December 2015 and thereafter in connection with your tenure as the President of the Delhi and District Cricket Association.…
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A Sorry Sight

~By Dilip Bobb Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal launched the trend by a flurry of apologies to various people he had insulted, then we had Navjot Singh Sidhu saying sorry to former PM Manmohan Singh for some unkind cuts he had essayed in his earlier BJP avatar. Who else needs to say sorry? Actually, it’s quite a long list. Mark Zuckerberg to Ravi Shankar Prasad: The founder and CEO of the social media giant must be quaking in his sneakers after being threatened by Ravi Shankar Prasad, who reminded Zuckerberg, one of the world’s most influential and richest tycoons, that he was India’s IT Minister, and therefore needed a more abject apology than others, and not on Facebook but in person, since, mark his words, he could be summoned to India. If only Prasad could do the same for Mallya, Nirav, Choksi and the many other absconders living abroad on public money, we would all fold our hands in gratitude. Kejriwal to Whosoever is Concerned: At last count, there were 33 individuals (not counting Delhi’s Chief Secretary) who the CM has apologised to, or has sent IOUs to. He is doing so at the rate of around one a day so he should be through in a month, trying to save himself from defamation cases in various courts, not to mention legal costs and damages if found guilty.…
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Modi tweets the “benefits” of demonetisation

Above: Congress activists during a protest on the first anniversary of demonetisation, at Youth Congress office in New Delhi on November 8, 2017. Photo: UNI; (inset) Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Photo: PIB A year after his stunning announcement on demonetization shook the country Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday (November 8) took to Twitter to declare his effort a success. In a seven-minute video post he detailed the “benefits of demonetisation” even as he claimed that 125 crore Indians had “fought a decisive battle and won”. On this day, a year back, Modi had declared the then existing Rs 500 and 1,000 notes as illegal tender from midnight that day and had given the public a small window to get their currency notes changed at bank. With 86 percent of the currency in circulation suddenly out of reach of the public, the entire nation was left in a quandary and in dire straits, spending their time queuing up at banks and in front of ATMs which, in any case had no money. It not only led to hardship but several deaths and the result of all has been a two percent dip in the GDP and millions out of jobs. On Wednesday, however, the PM claimed that demonetisation had served its intended purpose of fighting and curbing corruption.…
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Defamation Suits: The Chilling Effect

Civil and criminal defamation laws are mainly used to silence criticism and intimidate the press. They need urgent review By Neeraj Mishra in Raipur       Arvind Kejriwal versus Arun Jaitley, Subramanian Swamy against Rahul Gandhi and now Jay Shah and The Wire’s editors. They all reflect the reality behind defamation cases in India—a majority are to do with political rivalry or an attempt to curb freedom of the press and free speech. Last May, Justice Dipak Misra (who is now the Chief Justice of India) headed a bench which delivered a judgment upholding the constitutional validity of Section 499 of the IPC which criminalises defamation and provides for a jail term of upto two years. Yet, as the latest defamation suit announced, not by the litigant, but on his behalf by Union Minister Piyush Goyal shows, the issue has many grey areas. In legal and media circles, “chilling effect” is the term used to describe the impact criminal defamation cases have on freedom of expression. Jay Shah’s threat of a Rs 100-crore suit against a fledging, non-profit news organisation certainly falls in that category, never mind the fact that his father, BJP President Amit Shah, is the second most powerful person in the country.…
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Relief on the GST front, but this will hardly let the MSME sector breathe easy

Above: Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, MoS (Finance) Shiv Pratap Shukla, Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subramanian and others attending the 22nd meeting of the Goods and Service Tax Council in New Delhi on October 6.Photo: UNI ~By Sujit Bhar The government has finally allowed some relief to small businesses in GST. It has also recognized that exports are actually a vital component of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Make in India drive, and sidelining and burdening exporters was not a bright idea. These changes had been generally predicted by India legal in its cover story “Looking at a New Roadmap”. While the basic idea of GST was to simplify the generally complex tax regime of India and provide uniformity, it also intended to provide a system which everybody can understand and comply with. In reality, the opposite had happened. Following the disaster of demonetisation, the highly complex GST had heads spinning within the MSME sector, which employs nearly 70 percent of working Indians. Many are near bankruptcy. It was incomprehensible how a certain category of goods, which drew, say, a 14 percent tax in the VAT and CST regime, suddenly jumped to 18 percent in the GST regime. The cost of input changed (more GST on input), the cost of manufacturing went up with inflation, and yet there was no way the manufacturer could raise his or her price without affecting business negatively.…
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Goods and Services Tax: Looking at a New Roadmap

Above: The GST Council meeting in progress on October 6, to look into some gray areas. Photo: UNI Prime Minister Narendra Modi is quite used to taking criticism in his stride. He either ignores it, or dismisses it as the rants of opponents who have nothing better to do than to throw darts at him. But when the venerable Reserve Bank of India supports a negative assessment of his government’s key economic initiatives, he has no option but to sit up and listen, as well as to act. Well before the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST)—described by the government’s spin doctors as the mother of all big bang tax reforms—doubters had sprung up from within the academic community, chartered accountants, and tax lawyers who advised caution and gradualism. Among them was India’s most notable tax and corporate attorney Arvind P Datar who predicted at Hyderabad’s NALSAR that the scheme was headed for serious trouble. In his talk on “Constitution, Federalism and GST” before students of the prestigious law university, Datar warned that a “terrible” thing was about to happen to the country. “It is not known whether the software has been tested. In order to avoid chaos, the GST regime should be implemented in phases.…
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Ministry for Happiness

~Dilip Bobb The idea is not borrowed from Arundhati Roy’s book—she is up there with Dawood and Hafeez on the NDA’s list of public enemies—but from Shivraj Singh Chouhan. The Madhya Pradesh chief minister set up the Rajya Ananda Sansthan, the country’s first Department of Happiness. Now, sensing growing unhappiness among the janta, the Centre has set up a Ministry Aimed at Spreading Happiness (MASH). It follows the MP playbook where volunteers go around spreading happiness according to an instruction manual. Here’s how it has worked so far. Small Time Trader: Hey Ram, my life is over. Demonetisation has destroyed my business which was all in cash, now I am broke, suffering from depression, my wife has left me and taken the kids, my relatives ignore me and my friends have unfriended me. I have this urge to hang myself from the nearest… MASH Volunteer: Hang on, there’s no need for all that. Look on the bright side. Trader: There is a bright side? MASH Volunteer: Of course, demonetisation was always meant to produce long-term benefits, how long only Arun Jaitley knows, but I am here to spread happiness and my orders are to give you a hug so things will look better.…
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Aadhaar Database: A Risky Revolution

The government’s move to link one billion of these numbers to bank accounts and mobiles is fraught with security risks. Studies say that digital security must be beefed up before this happens Alarm bells have been ringing in the ministry of electronics and information technology (MeitY). This was ever since Union finance minister Arun Jaitley announced on August 28 that the linking of one billion Aadhaar IDs with bank accounts and mobiles is very much on the cards. The minister, speaking at a function to mark the completion of three years of the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojna, said that the linkage would ensure “financial inclusion” which will be “nothing short of a social revolution”. Officials in MeitY, are a worried lot. The ministry has been entrusted with the onerous task of ensuring cyberspace security in the country and managing the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) which deals with hacking and related crimes. More importantly, it is also directly responsible for the functioning of the Unique Identity Authority of India (UIDAI) which operates the Aadhaar database. It will have an important role to play once the linkage referred to by Jaitley covers all Aadhaar cards—virtually the entire adult population in the country.…
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Delhi HC fines Kejriwal Rs 5k for late filing of statement

Above: Arvind Kejriwal The Delhi High Court, which had earlier come down heavily on Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal for suggesting that the court was going too fast in the defamation cases that Union Minister for Finance Arun Jaitley had filed against him, on Monday (September 4) imposed a Rs 5,000 fine on Kejriwal for late filing of his “written statement”. The court ordered that the cost will have to be deposited in the Army Welfare Fund for Battle Casualties. Arvind Kejriwal’s written submission This is the additional defamation suit of Rs 10 crore that Jaitley has filed against Kejriwal, an offshoot of the previous defamation case (also Rs 10 crore) that Jaitley had filed against Kejriwal and some members of his Aam Aadmi Party for trying to implicate Jaitley in a DDCA scam. This additional suit evolved during the cross-examination of Jaitley where Kejriwal’s then counsel, senior advocate Ram Jethmalani, had called Jaitley a “crook” and had insisted that his client had asked him to use that word. This is not the first fine. At the last date of hearing on July 26 the court had imposed a cost of Rs 10,000 on Kejriwal, also to be deposited in the same Army fund for not filing his written submissions (response). …
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Cabinet reshuffle likely on weekend: a few big changes on the cards

Above: While taking decisions on cabinet rejig, Modi and Amit Shah will have to keep in mind the BJP’s strategy for the 2019 LS polls and assembly elections due over the next year With an eye on 2019 elections, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to make mega shifts in his council of ministers before he leaves for the BRICS summit ~By Punit Nicholas Yadav A slew of resignations tendered in by Union ministers like Uma Bharti, Rajiv Pratap Rudy, Faggan Singh Kulaste, Mahendra Pandey and Radha Mohan Singh over the past 24 hours, has put in top gear Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s plan of effecting a mammoth cabinet reshuffle that is likely to take place on the weekend. The cabinet reshuffle, sources say, “will not be a cosmetic exercise meant purely to fill the many vacant positions in Modi’s council of ministers”. Instead, as a senior BJP leader pointed out, it will be extensive, “with an emphasis on performance and also keeping in mind the party’s strategy for nearly a dozen elections to state assemblies that are due over the next year in the run up to the all important Lok Sabha polls in 2019.” Uma Bharti and Rajiv Pratap Rudy Clear pointers to the cabinet reshuffle had begun emerging on Thursday with Union finance minister Arun Jaitley indicating at a press briefing that he may not hold the additional charge of the defence portfolio for very long.…
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