Latest Current Affairs 15 September 2021


GST Council may consider bringing petrol, diesel under GST

The GST Council might on Friday consider taxing petrol, diesel and other petroleum products under the single national GST regime, a move that may require huge compromises by both central and state governments on the taxing of these products. The Council, which comprises central and state finance ministers, in its meeting scheduled in Lucknow on Friday, is also likely to consider extending the time for duty relief on COVID-19 essentials, according to sources in the know of the development. GST is being thought to be a solution for the problem of near-record high petrol and diesel rates in the country, as it would end the cascading effect of tax on tax (state VAT being levied not just on the cost of production but also on the excise duty charged by the Centre on such output). In June, the Kerala High Court, based on a writ petition, had asked the GST Council to decide on bringing petrol and diesel within the goods and services tax (GST) ambit. The sources said bringing petrol and diesel within GST would be placed before the Council for discussion in the light of the court asking the Council to do so. GST is being thought to be a solution for the problem of near-record high petrol and diesel rates in the country, as it would end the cascading effect of tax on tax  When a national GST subsumed central taxes such as excise duty and state levies like VAT on July 1, 2017, five petroleum goods – petrol, diesel, ATF, natural gas and crude oil – were kept out of its purview for the time being. This is because both central and state government finances relied heavily on taxes on these products. Since GST is a consumption-based tax, bringing petro products under the regime would have meant that states where these products are sold get the revenue and not ones that currently derive the most benefit out of them because of their being the production centre. Simply put, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar with their huge population and a resultant high consumption would get more revenues at the cost of states like Gujarat. With central excise and state VAT making up for almost half of the retail selling price of petrol and diesel currently, levying GST on them would mean charging a peak rate of 28% plus a fixed surcharge going by the principle of the new levy being equal to the old taxes.

T.N. withdraws 5,570 cases against protesters who peacefully opposed controversial projects, CAA

The Tamil Nadu government has formally withdrawn 5,570 cases registered those who protested peacefully against the three Agricultural Amendment Laws and Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) as well as controversial projects such as the Salem-Chennai eight lane expressway, methane extraction, Neutrino and Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant. Cases registered by the erstwhile AIADMK regime against the media have also been withdrawn. This follows Chief Minister M.K. Stalin’s announcement in the Assembly on June 24 that cases against media and protestors would be withdrawn. Home Secretary S.K. Prabakar in his order on September 4 said the Director General of Police had furnished details of cases registered for consideration of withdrawal. There are 26 cases against media, 2,831 cases against those who protested against the farm bills, 2,282 against the CAA protestors, 405 cases against Eight lane, Methane and Neutrino protests and 26 cases against Kudankulam protesters. The public prosecutor had opined that in cases where the investigation was still pending or charge sheet not taken on file, further action may be dropped by the police concerned. In cases where the cases are pending trial, the assistant public prosecutors in charge of respective cases may be directed to move an application under section 321 of the CrPc for withdrawal of prosecution and follow the procedure prescribed therein.

LJP MP Prince Raj Paswan booked for rape, party calls it ‘political conspiracy’

Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) MP Prince Raj Paswan, a cousin of Chirag Paswan, has been booked on rape charges in New Delhi following a direction by a court, police said on Tuesday. A complaint was filed three months ago by the alleged victim, who is a party worker, and the case was registered under sections related to rape, criminal conspiracy and destruction of evidence, they said. LJP spokesperson Shravan Kumar defended Prince Raj and claimed that the allegations against him are a political conspiracy to malign him. He said the MP had lodged a complaint of extortion and blackmailing with Delhi Police on February 10 against the woman who has accused him of rape. The alleged rape took place in 2020, according to the complaint. The court’s direction came on September 9 and a case has been registered under relevant sections at the Connaught Place Police Station, a police officer said. Police said that an investigation is underway and nobody has been questioned in this regard yet. Without naming anyone, Shravan Kumar alleged that it was a political conspiracy and said the police should swiftly probe the case lodged by the Samartipur MP. We have absolute faith in the judiciary, he added. Without elaborating, he said cases of honey-trapping also frequently happen. LJP leader Chirag Paswan was also mentioned in the FIR, police said. The victim alleged that Chirag pressured her not to file the complaint against Prince, the police said. Chirag Paswan had earlier said that he had spoken to his cousin and the complainant when the matter was brought before him. He had asked both of them to pursue the matter with police, he had said. Chirag Paswan and Prince Raj are estranged now, with the latter joining the party faction headed by their uncle and Union Minister Pashupati Kumar Paras. In her complaint, the victim claimed that she met Prince first at the party office. They later met on many occasions and at one such meeting, the accused allegedly gave her something to drink. When she became unconscious, he made physical relations with her, the police said. When she confronted him later, he showed her a video recorded by him in which he was seen making physical relations with her. She also alleged that he proposed to marry her and threatened her that he would put the video on the internet, they said. She also alleged that Prince then started visiting her at odd hours.

Trinamool Congress nominates Sushmita Dev to Rajya Sabha

The Trinamool Congress on Tuesday nominated Sushmita Dev for the Rajya Sabha. Dev is a former president of the Mahila Congress who joined the TMC only a month ago. We are extremely pleased to nominate @SushmitaDevAITC to the Upper House of Parliament. @MamataOfficial’s vision to empower women and ensure their maximum participation in politics shall help our society to achieve much more! the TMC tweeted from its official handle. Dev, who represented the Silchar Lok Sabha seat in Assam and had joined the TMC on August 17, thanked party chairperson Mamata Banerjee for the opportunity. I am overwhelmed. I thank my leader @MamataOfficial from the bottom of my heart. Her conviction to see more women in Parliament is exemplary. To give someone from northeast is path breaking. I will do my very best, Dev tweeted. The Rajya Sabha seat fell vacant due to the resignation of Manas Ranjan Bhunia, who won the Assembly poll. Elections to six seats from five States are scheduled on October 4. The nomination of Dev assumes significance as it is crucial to the TMC’s plans to extend its footprint in the northeast. According to sources in the TMC, Dev is crucial for the campaign in Tripura where elections are scheduled in 2022. She has been visiting Tripura regularly with senior party leaders from West Bengal. Her father, veteran Congress leader Santosh Mohan Dev, represented the Tripura West Lok Sabha seat in the 1990s and Dev is the best face for the party in the State. Political observers say Dev is among the few from outside West Bengal nominated to the Rajya Sabha by the Trinamool. Earlier, the TMC nominated industrialist K.D. Singh and a few months ago, retired bureaucrat Jawhar Sircar, to the Upper House

Yogi Adiyanath’s language changed as BJP is set to lose in U.P.: Akhilesh Yadav

Samajwadi Party (SP) president Akhilesh Yadav on Tuesday targetted Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath for his abba jaan jibe, saying the BJP leader changed his language as the saffron party was destined to be wiped out in the 2022 assembly polls. The BJP is destined to go. That’s why the ‘mukhiya’ [head] of the government has changed his language. The people want change and prosperity, Yadav said in a press conference in Lucknow. Though he did not directly mention the abba jaan remarks made by Adityanath on Sunday, Yadav referred to the Chief Minister’s trip to Kushinagar where he made the controversial comment. People are asking questions. So they are deliberately changing their language. It’s certain the BJP is going to be wiped out in U.P., he asserted. On Sunday, Adityanath said that prior to his government’s formation in 2017, the ration meant for the poor would get ‘digested’ by those who uttered abba jaan. This led to a reaction on social media. Several users condemned his words and accused him of making communal references and shared posts about their fathers. In several parts of India, Muslims use the phrase abba jaan to refer to their fathers or as an endearment. However, in the recent context in the State’s politics, Adityanath’s remark was also seen as an attack on Akhilesh Yadav and his father, Mulayam Singh Yadav, whom the right-wing led by BJP-RSS have for decades accused of minority appeasement, especially in the context of the firing on ‘karsevaks’ trying to break into the Babri Masjid enclosure in Ayodhya under his government in 1990. Speaking at an official function in Kushinagar, Adityanath, while taking a swipe at the alleged appeasement by previous governments, had said that now the BJP did not look at anyone’s face before providing them benefits likes toilets or grains. Are you getting ration? Did you get this ration prior to 2017? Back then, those who say ‘abba jaan’ would digest all the ration. Kushinagar’s ration would end up in Nepal and Bangladesh. If today anyone tries to swallow the ration of the poor, that person will land in jail, he claimed. The SP ruled U.P. from 2012 to 2017. In a recent interview to a television channel, when asked about the work done in the State since 2017, Adityanath took a swipe at Mulayam Singh Yadav and referred to the firing on the ‘karsevaks’ in 1990 under his tenure when the Ram Janmabhoomi movement was at its peak, and the ongoing construction of Ram temple in Ayodhya. His ‘abba jaan’ would say that he would not allow even a bird to fly [around the Babri Masjid enclosure], Adityanath said, boasting that the BJP had fulfilled its promise of building a Ram mandir.

Owaisi dares Centre to declare Taliban a terrorist outfit under UAPA

The All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul-Muslimeen (AIMIM) chief Asaduddin Owaisi on Tuesday dared the Central government to declare the Taliban a terrorist organisation and put it on the list of outfits banned under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). Addressing the media in Patna, Owaisi said, If the Central government has courage, it should declare the Taliban a terrorist organisation. Since 2013, I’ve been saying that the Taliban’s emergence could be a sign of concern for India and it might benefit China and Pakistan but for the BJP all Muslims are Taliban asked if the AIMIM will be contesting U.P. Assembly poll next year, Owaisi said his party was willing to contest on 100 seats. There is no tie-up yet for the poll but we can also go alone, Owaisi added. Those who accuse us of helping any party in elections should explain what happened during the parliamentary poll when AIMIM was not in the fray. In Bihar we contested on 19 seats and won five. We’re making expansion to ensure that Muslims should get their deserved rights, he said.


Sri Lanka slams external initiatives at HRC

Sri Lanka on Tuesday said it rejects any external initiatives established by UN mechanisms, envisaged in the resolution adopted by the Human Rights Council in March, claiming that domestic processes are vigorously addressing questions of accountability and justice lingering from the civil war years. The March 2021 UN resolution on Sri Lanka, adopted with 22 of the 47 memberstates of Council backing it, underscored the persistent lack of accountabilityof domestic mechanisms, and decided to strengthen the capacity of the Office of the High Commissioner to collect, consolidate, analyse, and preserve information and evidence and todevelop strategies for future accountability processes for gross violations of human rights and international humanitarian law in Sri Lanka. Delivering a statement a day after the UN Human Rights Chief’s oral update on Sri Lanka, in which she sought close attention on, and concrete actions from Sri Lanka, Foreign Minister G.L. Peiris said external initiatives will polarise our society. The Council must adhere to its founding principles. External initiatives embarked upon without the cooperation of the country concerned cannot achieve their stated goals, and will be subject to politicisation, he noted, adding that Sri Lanka is committed to achieving tangible progress on the entire range of issues relating to accountability, reconciliation, human rights, peace and sustainable development. Govt. initiatives The Minister further outlinedinitiatives taken by the Rajapaksa administration, in regard to enforced disappearances, reparations, reconciliation efforts and institutional reform. Survivors of the country’s 30-yearlong civil war have repeatedly stated that the existing domestic mechanisms are yet to inspire faith, or deliver on past promises on truth, accountability and justice. Minister Peiris also pointedtoa Cabinet sub-committeetasked with evaluation and possible reform of the country’s anti-terrorism law, widely criticised as draconian. In her oral update on Monday, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet sought an immediate moratorium on the use of the Act, and a clear timeline for its comprehensive review or repeal.

Britain delays full post- Brexit border checks from EU. 

Britain on Tuesday said it would push back its implementation of full post-Brexit borders checks on goods from the European Union, as the pandemic, red tape and new immigration rules fuel supply problems. Plans to introduce full controls in areas such as the import of food and animal products had been due from next month but would now start from January next year under a pragmatic new timetable, Downing Street said. Britain will still introduce fullcustoms declarations and controls on January 1, 2022, as planned. Certification and physical checks on foodand animal goods designed to protect against diseases, pests and contaminants – due to be introduced on January 1 – will now be introducedinJuly 2022. Requirements for Safety and Security declarations will be also be pushed back to July. We want businesses to focus on their recovery from the pandemic rather than have to deal with new requirements at the border, which is why we’ve set out a pragmatic new timetable for introducing full border controls, said Minister David Frost. Businesses will now have more time to prepare for these controls which will be phased in throughout 2022. The pandemic and the effectsof leaving the EU single market have left Britain short of truck drivers,causing supply problems, particularly in the food and drink sector.

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