Twenty years ago there was no Service Tax. Constitution was amended and Service Tax was brought in. It began at 5% on some items. Later it went up to 8%, 10% and 12%. After the depression of 2008 it was brought down to 10%. Now it is back to 12%. More items came under Service Tax. Now all items except 17 in the negative list are covered by Service Tax. All Indians pay Service Tax directly or indirectly. Most Indians own mobile phones and they pay Service Tax when they recharge or pay bills.
On 29/12/2011 Rajya Sabha was to vote on the Lokpal and the Lokayuktas Bill, 2011. It was adjourned sine die without vote. Parliament was called to sit on 27, 28 and 29 of December 2011 to pass Lokpal Bill. Lok Sabha passed it. Rajya Sabha did not.
Winter session was supposed to end on 22/12/2011. Anna Hazare had announced his three days fast beginning on 27/12/2011 if the bill had not been passed by then and thereafter three days of jail bharo andolan. If the Parliament passed Lokpal Bill by 22/12/2011 India Against Corruption would have observed gratitude day and held thanksgiving party on 27/12/2011. Winter session saw many disruptions and waste of many days. Many parties changed their positions on Lokpal Bill. There were 17 dissent notes in the standing committee report. There was all party meeting.
India needs judicial reforms. Cases drag on for years from lower courts to Sessions Courts to High Courts to Supreme Court. Adjournments and stay orders delay justice. Appeals are allowed long after the expiry of the period granted for appeal. Cases decided by arbitration are appealed in High Courts. There are various tribunals whose judgments can be appealed.
Cases of murder, rape, abduction, hijacking and such high crimes must be tried by a court having three judges and the decision should be first and last. There should be no appeal, only mercy petition in case there is punishment. Minor crimes may be tried by one judge. Civil matters may be tried by one judge or three judges depending on the amount involved and there should be no appeal.
Where there is will there is a way. If Congress wants to pass a strong Lokpal Bill it can do. If it does not want to pass a strong Lokpal Bill it finds ways avoid it. In that case the passing of Lokpal Bill depends on how strong is the will of people who want a strong Lokpal Bill. If their will is stronger than that of Congress they will succeed. Anna Hazare Group wants Lokpal Bill passed in the winter session of Parliament which gets over on 22/12/2011. Otherwise he will start his indefinite fast on 27/12/2011 and has asked people to fill jails and sit in front of houses of MPs from 1 January 2012 onwards. This time the fast is to be from Azad Maidan where his previous fasts were successful.
There is a debate on how to get back black money held abroad by Indians. Some want it to be declared a national asset. Some say it is red money acquired through crimes like drug trade. Some say there is more black money in India than abroad. The amount of black money is a conjecture. Some mention 25 lakh crore rupees. BJP blames Congress for not doing enough to get back black money and wants the names of 782 account holders given by France revealed. Congress blames BJP that it did nothing when it was in power. Some say getting money is more important than knowing names.
There were reports that CBI will not oppose Kanimozhi â€˜s bail plea. The Supreme Court questioned CBI on the reports and CBIâ€™s lawyer Harin Raval said it would certainly oppose Kanimozhi â€˜s bail plea.
Karunanidhi came to Delhi and met Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh on 22/10/2011. On 24/10/2011 CBI did not oppose bail for Kanimozhi, Asif Balwa, Rajiv Aggarwal, Karim Morani and Sharad Kumar. It opposed bail for R. K. Chandolia and Shahid Balwa. On 31/10/2011 Supreme Court judges G. S. Singhvi and H. L. Dattu questioned Harin Raval â€œIs is true that during the hearing the CBI counsel said that he has no objection to bail for five out of the 14 accused?â€ and directed him to confirm the next day. On 1/11/2011 Harin Raval confirmed that U. U. Lalit representing CBI had not opposed bail for five accused.
Gang of Four originally meant Jiang Qing, Wang Hongwen, Zhang Chunqiao and Yao Wenyuan who were powerful during the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) in China. Anna Hazare spoke of Gang of Four in UPA government without mentioning names. One of them is P. Chidambaram. Second is likely to be Kapil Sibal. Who are the other two? Some talk of Digvijay Singh and Manish Tewari but they are not ministers.
India should have been self-sufficient in all respects of defence. USA, UK, Russia and France sell weapons. In India many years and thousands of crores of rupees were spent on developing main battle tank and light combat aircraft. There was talk of allowing private sector to manufacture what is required for defence but nothing seems to have happened. May be imports are a lucrative way to get bribes, commissions and kickbacks. Foreign companies may be allowed to manufacture warplanes, warships, arms and ammunition in India and India should buy only what is made in India.
CAG is a constitutional authority. He is not a servant of the government of the day. If he finds any subordinate not doing his job properly he has the right to overrule him. In judiciary there are various courts but the decision of the Supreme Court is final. It can overrule High Court or other courts. High Court can overrule Sessions Court. In Supreme Court judges on the same bench disagree and judgments are by majority. There is nothing strange about CAG overruling DG.
Why is it that Sheila Dikshit continues as chief minister when there were three occasions when she should have quit? Did she threaten that she would not go down alone but take Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi with her? Did she bribe or threaten BJP members or other politicians? What did she do to silence TV channels about her?