Current Affairs

Morning Brief: Major Judicial Reforms Push; High-Stakes Gujarat RS Polls Today, I-T Returns Soar 25 Per Cent

Swarajya Staff

Aug 08, 2017, 06:15 AM | Updated 06:14 AM IST

The Supreme Court of India.
The Supreme Court of India.

Good morning, dear reader! Here’s your morning news and views brief for today.

Major Judicial Reforms On Way: In what is seen as a major judicial reform, the government and the Supreme Court are pushing for a new judicial mechanism – courts of appeal – that will be set up to help clear the huge backlog of pending cases. The idea that an alternative mechanism was needed to hear all statutory appeals and therefore, decongest the legal system was firmed up at a recent top-level meeting attended by senior officials from the Prime Minister’s Office, the cabinet secretary, and secretaries from ministries of finance, department of personnel and training, law and NITI Aayog. Judges for these new courts will be recruited from among the “brighter members” of the cadre of district court judges as well as from the Bar.

Army Foils Infiltration Bid, Kills Five Terrorists: Indian Army on Monday foiled an infiltration bid and gunned down five terrorists in Machil sector of Jammu and Kashmir. The gunfight came a day after police confirmed Lashkar’s hand in an attack on a bus carrying Amarnath pilgrims. Eight people were killed when a group of militants fired on the bus on 11 July. The Machil gun battle is the latest in a series of such exchanges with the government hardening its stand against militants after a recent spurt in violent street protests and attacks on security forces. A Pakistani Lashkar-e-Taiba militant Umer was killed in an overnight encounter in Pampore’s Sambora, police said on Monday. He belonged to the Abu Ismail group of the Pakistan-based outfit.

Automobile Industry Upset Over GST Cess On Luxury Cars: Makers of sports utility vehicles (SUVs) and luxury cars are up in arms against GST Council’s plan to raise the cess on such vehicles from 15 per cent to as much as 25 per cent, warning that the move will lead to production cuts and job losses and dent the ‘Make in India’ initiative. Under the new GST regime, cars attract the top tax rate of 28 per cent. On top of this, a cess of 1-15 per cent is levied on them to create a corpus to compensate states for loss of revenue from GST implementation. If the cess is indeed increased, prices of some of the top luxury cars are expected to go up by between Rs 72,000 and Rs 2.58 lakh. The industry is not happy with the government's stand, saying that abrupt and frequent changes to tax rates negatively affect investment planning as well as market outlook.

High-Stakes Gujarat Rajya Sabha Polls Today: Gujarat is all set to witness one of the most exciting Rajya Sabha elections in its history on Tuesday. As many as 176 members of the 182-strong Gujarat Assembly would vote to elect three representatives to the Upper House of Parliament. While the Opposition Congress seeks to elect Ahmed Patel, political secretary to party president Sonia Gandhi, the BJP has party president Amit Shah, Union Minister for Textiles Smriti Irani and former chief whip of the Congress in Gujarat Assembly-turned-BJP man Balwantsinh Rajput in the fray. The BJP, with a strength of 122, would find it easy to send two of its candidates to the Rajya Sabha. Though Rajput did not have sufficient numbers, recent trouble within the Congress has raised hopes of Rajput that he may be able to prevent Patel from reaching the Upper House for his fifth term in a row.

LPG Subsidy For Poor To Stay, Says Oil Minister: Union Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said the subsidy on LPG cylinder for domestic use for the poor will continue. “We have no plan to withdraw subsidy on LPG for domestic use. Subsidy on LPG and kerosene will continue for the poor and common people,” Pradhan said. To tackle the LPG crisis in the North-East, Pradhan said the ministry has taken up with Bangladesh the laying of a pipeline to carry natural gas from Chittagong to Tripura. “We are laying a pipeline for transportation of diesel from Siliguri in West Bengal to Parvatipur in Bangladesh. There is a pipeline for carrying diesel from Numaligarh oil refinery in Assam to Siliguri,” he said.

I-T Returns Surge 25 Per Cent Post Demonetisation: The positive effect of demonetisation is getting more pronounced as the number of income tax (I-T) returns filed for 2016-17 year grew by 25 per cent to 2.82 crore, the tax department said. “As a result of demonetisation and Operation Clean Money, there is a substantial increase in the number of Income Tax Returns (ITRs) filed,” the department said. The I-T department had then launched operation clean money to clamp down on unaccounted money funnelled into bank accounts post demonetisation. Advance tax collections of personal income tax (other than corporate tax) as on 5 August showed a growth of about 41.79 per cent over the corresponding period in 2016-17. Personal income tax under self assessment tax grew at 34.25 per cent over the corresponding period in 2016-17.

Congress Facing Existential Crisis, Says Jairam Ramesh: Senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh on Monday admitted that the grand old party is currently facing an “existential crisis” and called for “a collective effort” by party leaders to overcome the challenges. He said the Congress had faced “electoral crisis” from 1996 to 2004 when it was out of power. The party had also faced “electoral crisis” in 1977 when it lost the elections held soon after the emergency. “But today, I would say that the Congress is facing an existential crisis. It is not an electoral crisis. The party really is in deep crisis,” he said, when asked whether the threat of “poaching” of MLAs posed by the BJP in Gujarat had forced the party to transport its MLAs to Karnataka to ensure party leader Ahmed Patel’s victory in the Rajya Sabha polls.

Jamaat-ud-Dawa Forms Political Outfit: The Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) has entered politics by setting up a new party, its members said on Monday. The new Milli Muslim League party will follow the ideology of the JuD, which the United States accuses of being a front for the anti-India Lashkar-e-Taiba that staged the 2008 Mumbai attacks, and is run by Hafiz Saeed, the alleged mastermind of the 2008 attacks that killed 166 people. Milli Muslim League president Saifullah Khalid said: “We have decided to make a new political party, so that Pakistan is made a real Islamic and welfare state.” Tabish Qayoum, a JuD activist who will work as spokesman for Milli Muslim League, said the group had filed registration papers for a new party with Pakistan’s electoral commission.


Why Alan Greenspan Is Wrong Again: Bubbles are a reflection of optimism gone to excessive levels. Alan Greenspan has said there is a bubble in bond prices, not stock prices, and that this is not discounted in the marketplace. This column contests his conclusion.

Rise Of A New BJP Is The Big, Quiet, Political Change Now Taking Place: The truth is that if 2014 represented a fundamental shift of the centre of gravity of Indian politics, the new BJP in 2017 is the edifice built around that new core. Any structural change, appointment or rejig from here on will eventually, and in due course, have to mirror this shift.

RBI Surveys A Wake-Up Call For The Narendra Modi Government: The RBI survey for June 2017 shows the percentage of people who said their income growth was lower than in December 2013 and March 2014, when the disenchantment with the UPA government was at its peak.

Protectionist China’s Quantum Leap: One thing is for certain: the byte based AI we already fear today will explode in capability, and the Chinese will control a large swathe of it. China could soon become a serious contender for the number one slot in the next generation of pervasive technologies.


Why It’s A Bit Premature To Presume That Modi Will Win Hands Down In 2019: It is advisable for the BJP to curb its triumphalism, and focus on delivering jobs. It would help if the party softened its political rhetoric and made genuine efforts to engage with the opposition parties on big issues.

We hope you enjoyed reading our morning brief. Have a great day ahead!

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