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Govt creates elite unit
to probe financial crimes

NEW DELHI, May 19: Faced with a plethora of frauds and scams, the Finance Ministry has decided to set up a specialised wing to probe financial crimes like terror financing, money laundering and trail black money...more

India, Pak to resume
talks on Sir Creek
boundary dispute

ISLAMABAD, May 19: India and Pakistan will resume talks on the Sir Creek boundary dispute here tomorrow after a gap of four years...more

Sushma slams Govt
on expired warrant
against Kim Davy

NEW DELHI, May 19:Senior BJP leader Sushma Swaraj today slammed the Government for sending a CBI team in Denmark to extradite Kim Day, prime accused in the 1995 Purulia arms drop case, with an expired warrant saying it is "another blunder" and "big embarrassment" for the country......more

Sonia’s advice to PM
on national policy
for domestic workers

NEW DELHI, May 19:NAC Chairperson Sonia Gandhi has written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh advising that the proposed national policy for domestic workers should ensure remuneration without sex discrimination and protection against sexual harassment...more

Shilpa Shetty denies
pregnancy rumours

NEW DELHI, May 19:Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty has taken to Twitter to deny pregnancy rumours, saying that she is "sick and tired" of the media speculation about her personal life....more

Four Pak youths
swim into Indian
territory

PATHANKOT, PB, May 19:Four Pakistani youths taking bath in Jalalia rivulet entered into the Indian territory near Jaitpur Post in Bamial sector and were arrested by BSF jawans....more

India, Pak to resume
talks on Sir Creek
boundary dispute

ISLAMABAD, May 19:India and Pakistan will resume talks on the Sir Creek boundary dispute here tomorrow after a gap of four years....more

Goutam Ghose to make
documentary on ‘Didi’

KOLKATA, May 19:Mamata Banerjee’s journey from being a firebrand politician leading up to the chief minister’s chair will be captured on celluloid by filmmaker Goutam Ghose.Apart from chronicling the extraordinary tale of a simple middle class girl with a burning political ambition who unseated the 34-year-old Left Front government almost singlehandedly, the documentary would stress on the humane side of her personality, Ghose said. ....more

 

Mamata Banerjee resigns as Railway Minister....

Yeddyurappa leaves for Vaishno Devi temple .....

Bihar’s ‘absconding’ minister resigns.....

Lokpal drafting process slow: Shanti Bhushan.....

 

Govt creates elite unit to probe financial crimes

NEW DELHI, May 19: Faced with a plethora of frauds and scams, the Finance Ministry has decided to set up a specialised wing to probe financial crimes like terror financing, money laundering and trail black money.

The specialised wing—Directorate of Criminal Investigation (Income Tax)-- will be manned by hand-picked officers who are experts in financial and forensic investigations.

The IT department, which has unearthed about Rs 30,000 crore blackmoney in the past two years, has begun putting necessary infrastructure for the new unit.

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee gave his approval for the creation of the new unit earlier this month and this has come as a ‘shot in the arm’ for the department which is currently probing some very high-profile and big-ticket financial transactions in the country and abroad.

This is on the lines of the action plan, called ‘Vision 2020’ unveiled by Mukherjee earlier this year.

The document, among other things, focuses on the department’s efforts to unearth black money.

Under the provisions of the new Direct Taxes Code (DTC) which is set to replace the IT Act by next year, the department, with the operationalisation of this elite unit, will have powers to investigate and summon for evidence on the lines of the Enforcement Directorate and the CBI.

The new unit will enable the department to deploy additional intelligence and investigation tools to detect and combat terror financing, money laundering, offshore tax evasion and other illegal trades which impact national security.

"The department has begun putting the infrastructure in place for the new directorate which will have enhanced powers than the present investigation and intelligence units of IT.

"The new unit will function under the provisions of the Income Tax Act but will have additional resources to check terror financing and financial proceeds of crime," a senior IT officer said.

The creation of the new unit comes in the backdrop of a new plan of action developed by the Finance Ministry for the IT department keeping in view the multitude of financial scams in the country and ramifications of national security through illegal funding and Hawala dealings.

"Income Tax department intends to use innovative methods to supplement its traditional enforcement tools in order to reduce the tax gap during the strategic plan period 2011-15. A conscious effort will be made to move towards non-intrusive targeted enforcement tools," the ‘Vision 2020’ document of the department said.

According to the document, the IT is currently probing a host of high-profile financial irregularities from and to overseas destinations and is of the view that the "next decade" will see an increased role (of IT) in scrutinising such transactions and fund flows.

"This will require the income tax department to deploy considerable resource and energy on criminal investigation.

"Effective criminal investigation will necessarily include a comprehensive international strategy to combat offshore tax evasion, and fund flows that threaten security of the country," the official document said.

The document, which will undergo a mid-term review in 2013, aims at taking forward the strategic planning of the department and its policies from 2011-2015 along with the new Direct Taxes Code (DTC) which is proposed to replace the current Income Tax Act from next fiscal.

The roadmap seeks to strategise the policies of the department as new technological development, accelerated globalisation, exchange of information between revenue authorities and the new Direct Tax Code offer both challenges and opportunities.

The department also proposes to hone its cyber forensic skills, keep tab on fund flow relating to money laundering, narcotics and terror and "ensure exemplary enforcement against abusive schemes and corporate tax frauds."

The IT department accounts for 60 per cent of the central revenue. (PTI)

India, Pak to resume talks on Sir Creek
boundary dispute

ISLAMABAD, May 19: India and Pakistan will resume talks on the Sir Creek boundary dispute here tomorrow after a gap of four years.

An Indian delegation arrived in Pakistan today for the

Talks as part of the bilateral dialogue process that was recently revived after a gap of over two years in the wake of the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

The eight-member delegation led by Surveyor General of India S Subba Rao will hold two-day talks with a Pakistani team led by Additional Defence Secretary Rear Admiral Shah Sohail Masood.

The Indian delegation was received by senior officials of Pakistan’s Defence Ministry at the Wagha land border crossing this morning.

The delegation will also call on Defence Secretary Syed Athar Ali.

During the last round of talks on the Sir Creek issue four years ago, the two countries made significant progress in resolving the dispute over the 96-km estuary in the Rann of Kutch separating India’s Gujarat state from Pakistan’s Sindh province.

At that time, Indian officials had said there was convergence "up to a great degree" over demarcating the maritime boundary based on maps finalised in a joint survey conducted in early 2007.

Pakistan and India had also exchanged maps of Sir Creek, marked with their respective claims over the marshy strip and their respective demarcations of the maritime boundary.

Unlike the military standoff in the Siachen glacier, experts on both sides say a deal on the Sir Creek issue is "doable".

The talks on the Sir Creek issue follows parleys earlier this year between the Home and Interior Secretaries, the Commerce Secretaries and the Water Secretaries.

Indian members of a joint Judicial Committee on Prisoners visited Pakistan to discuss ways to speed up the release of prisoners held in each other’s jails. (PTI)

Sushma slams Govt on expired warrant
against Kim Davy

NEW DELHI, May 19:Senior BJP leader Sushma Swaraj today slammed the Government for sending a CBI team in Denmark to extradite Kim Day, prime accused in the 1995 Purulia arms drop case, with an expired warrant saying it is "another blunder" and "big embarrassment" for the country.

Ms Swaraj said on twitter that the Government has committed "another blunder" after the goof-up in India’s 50 most wanted fugitives list given to Pakistan.

"Here is another blunder. CBI reached Copenhagen with an expired warrant for Kim Davy. Big embarrassment for the country," she added.

Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha asked, "Is anybody accountable in this Government."

Further criticising the Government she said, "They say expired warrant is an oversight. Oversight in CVC papers. Oversight in India’s Most wanted list. It is an all time excuse."

The CBI team was left "red-faced" after Davy’s counsel pointed out during the court proceedings that the arrest warrant, issued by a special CBI court in Kolkata in October 2010 against him, had expired in January this year.

The Denmark High Court was hearing the plea of the Denmark Government which challenged a lower court order against the extradition of Davy to India.

The CBI then got issued a fresh warrant and the same was sent to the team, comprising a CBI officer and a lawyer, which left for Denmark on May 16. (UNI)

Sonia’s advice to PM on national
policy for domestic workers

NEW DELHI, May 19:NAC Chairperson Sonia Gandhi has written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh advising that the proposed national policy for domestic workers should ensure remuneration without sex discrimination and protection against sexual harassment at work place to the target group.

The National Advisory Council had made the recommendations on the national policy at its meeting on April 28. Sources said that Gandhi wrote to the Prime Minister about NAC recommendations soon after the meeting following which, the PMO wrote to the Labour Ministry to take the move forward.

Labour Secretary P Chaturvedi said, "The letter had come to use from the PMO ten days back. We have adopted a two-pronged strategy. One is welfare of domestic workers under the various social security schemes and the other is preparing the guidelines for the policy for domestic workers."

Sources said the Labour Ministry has already sent a Cabinet note for inclusion of domestic workers under Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana.

They said a task force was earlier constituted to suggest measures for the welfare of such workers.

"A number of measures have been initiated to bring the domestic workers under the social security net," sources in the Labour Ministry said.

Noting that the Government was engaged in the exercise of formulating a National Policy for Domestic Workers, the NAC had made a number of recommendations with regard to ‘essential elements’ of such a policy.

The NAC in its communication to the government had said that the policy should affirm the equity of domestic workers with other wage workers, so that domestic workers are treated no less favourably.

The NAC had recommended that the national policy should have measures to ensure protection to domestic workers against sexual harassment at the place of work and protection against forced labour or trafficking, by regulation and registration of recruitment agencies as well as right to remuneration without discrimination based on sex.

The NAC wanted the policy to have a "larger labour rights framework", where the state shall take effective measures to include domestic workers in the existing labour legislations.

"And where such inclusion is not possible, or where such inclusion would not amount to equivalent rights for Domestic Workers, due to the specific nature of their work, the national policy shall place on the central government the obligation to design additional legislative mechanisms to ensure that Domestic Workers rights as workers can be exercised comprehensively," it said.

It also felt that the policy should specify elements that comprise the comprehensive exercise of domestic workers ‘rights as workers’, including right to receive at least the minimum wages as applicable under the Minimum Wages Act, 1948.

The NAC suggested that the policy should also have provisions to ensure right to regulated conditions of work, including working within the defined normal hours of work with suitable daily and weekly rest.

Entitlement to paid annual leave and sick leaves and coverage under social security as provided in the Unorganised Sector Social Security Act 200 including maternity benefits are some other recommendations.

The NAC also advocated that domestic workers should be recognised and registered as workers with the state labour departments and have right to establish their own organisation or join workers’ organisations or trade unions or associations and engage in collective bargaining process.

It said that such workers should also have access to schemes and benefits which are available or will be made available to other categories of workers.

It said that under the national policy, steps should be taken to protect migrant domestic workers, including the provision of adequate pre-departure training, information, and written contracts specifying conditions of work, and complaint mechanisms.

"The National Policy should further outline the steps that the central and state Governments may take to meet these requirements, and thereby ensure that domestic workers in India can enjoy the full measure of rights due to them within the shortest possible time-frame," the NAC said. (PTI)

Shilpa Shetty denies pregnancy rumours

NEW DELHI, May 19:Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty has taken to Twitter to deny pregnancy rumours, saying that she is "sick and tired" of the media speculation about her personal life.

The 36-year-old actress who is married to NRI businessman Raj Kundhra, has rubbished reports claiming that the couple have already prepared a nursery for their "bundle of joy".

"Sick and tired of all the congratulatory msgs and calls, so for the last time ‘I am not pregnant’. All this is so annoying (sic)," the actress wrote on the micro-blogging website.

Shilpa who is the co-owner of the IPL team, Rajasthan Royals, along with her husband of two years, added, "To all my followers ‘If how and when I want to make any personal announcement, is entirely my (not the press) prerogative! As of now there’s none to make (sic)."

The actress also requested the press to respect her privacy.

"I do know I am in the public domain, and everyones curious, but these are sensitive issues, hence wud appreciate the press respects my privacy (sic)," she tweeted. (PTI)

Four Pak youths swim into Indian territory

PATHANKOT, PB, May 19:Four Pakistani youths taking bath in Jalalia rivulet entered into the Indian territory near Jaitpur Post in Bamial sector and were arrested by BSF jawans.

The incident occurred last evening, a senior official said today.

The youths were identified as Aslam, his brother Mohammed Zohib Khan, Mohammed Shahib Khan and Mohammed Adil Khan - all residents of Shakargarh town in Pakistan.

Gurdaspur BSF DIG D S Bains said the four Pakistani youths had told them that they were taking bath in Jalalia rivulet and swam into the Indian side in the absence of any demarcation.

He the BSF and other security agencies were questioning them.

Bains said during preliminary inquiry, BSF authorities found that they had "inadvertently" entered the Indian territory and in case they were found to be innocent and if the officials were convinced that they had not made a forced entry into the Indian side, they will be handed over to the Pakistan Rangers.

So far, Pakistani authorities have not made any formal request for getting them back, Bains added. (PTI)

India, Pak to resume talks on Sir Creek
boundary dispute

ISLAMABAD, May 19:India and Pakistan will resume talks on the Sir Creek boundary dispute here tomorrow after a gap of four years.

An Indian delegation arrived in Pakistan today for the

Talks as part of the bilateral dialogue process that was recently revived after a gap of over two years in the wake of the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

The eight-member delegation led by Surveyor General of India S Subba Rao will hold two-day talks with a Pakistani team led by Additional Defence Secretary Rear Admiral Shah Sohail Masood.

The Indian delegation was received by senior officials of Pakistan’s Defence Ministry at the Wagha land border crossing this morning.

The delegation will also call on Defence Secretary Syed Athar Ali.

During the last round of talks on the Sir Creek issue four years ago, the two countries made significant progress in resolving the dispute over the 96-km estuary in the Rann of Kutch separating India’s Gujarat state from Pakistan’s Sindh province.

At that time, Indian officials had said there was convergence "up to a great degree" over demarcating the maritime boundary based on maps finalised in a joint survey conducted in early 2007.

Pakistan and India had also exchanged maps of Sir Creek, marked with their respective claims over the marshy strip and their respective demarcations of the maritime boundary.

Unlike the military standoff in the Siachen glacier, experts on both sides say a deal on the Sir Creek issue is "doable".

The talks on the Sir Creek issue follows parleys earlier this year between the Home and Interior Secretaries, the Commerce Secretaries and the Water Secretaries.

Indian members of a joint Judicial Committee on Prisoners visited Pakistan to discuss ways to speed up the release of prisoners held in each other’s jails. (PTI)

Goutam Ghose to make documentary on ‘Didi’

KOLKATA, May 19:Mamata Banerjee’s journey from being a firebrand politician leading up to the chief minister’s chair will be captured on celluloid by filmmaker Goutam Ghose.

Apart from chronicling the extraordinary tale of a simple middle class girl with a burning political ambition who unseated the 34-year-old Left Front government almost singlehandedly, the documentary would stress on the humane side of her personality, Ghose said.

"I will try to delve into the humane self of Mamata, the way she interacts with the masses, the way she conducts herself in the elite business circles and the way she pursues her interets at home like painting or Rabindrasangeet," Ghose told here today.

"Remember how she was derided once by the urban class who made fun of her English accent, her sartorial tastes and earthy image at cocktail circuits. I was very shocked at this and tried to protest. But now see how everybody is lapping up her every word," he added.

Ghose said he would discuss with Mamata how to film her life once things settle down after the swearing-in which would also feature in the documentary.

He said he was told by the legendary Bengali poet, late Subhas Mukhopadhyay, once a Left sympathizer, during a chat that the ‘girl’ had sincerity and a dream and was destined to rise.

The poet described her as ‘Banglar Agnikanya’ (Bengal’s firebrand daughter).

Ghosh said he would take up the project amidst other pending projects.

Referring to his documentary on late Marxist patriarch Jyoti Basu, Ghose said, "I think that was also part of my endeavour to capture an important phase of our country’s political history of which Jyotibabu was an integral part".

"Not all he said about his party was very praiseworthy in tone and I do not know why I did not get the chance to have a public screening of the documentary at that time."

"The same Bengali channel, which has asked me to do a docu on Mamata, telecast the Basu documentary in full after his death and helped me reach the public."

About some footage on Mamata already shown on the same channel, Ghosh dubbed it as a "curtainraiser which has been compiled by the channel’s own creative team with Ghose only overseeing as an adviser."

"But the full documentary on Mamata will be my own work," he clarified. (PTI)

Mamata Banerjee resigns as Railway Minister

KOLKATA, May 19:Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee, set to take over as West Bengal Chief Minister tomorrow, resigned as Railway Minister today.

Railway sources said Banerjee sent her resignation to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Banerjee took over as Railway Minister of UPA-II government in May, 2009. She had also held the ministry for less than two years in the NDA government.

Trinanool Congress General Secretary Mukul Roy, currently Minister of State for Shipping, is being seen as the front-runner for taking over the Railway Ministry.

Banerjee, who engineered the landslide victory of the Trinamool Congress-Congress combine, will be sworn in as West Bengal’s first woman Chief Minister tomorrow. (PTI)

Yeddyurappa leaves for Vaishno Devi temple

BANGALORE, May 19:In the wake of political uncertainty triggered by Governor H R Bhardwaj recommending dismissal of Karnataka Government, Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa today left for Vaishnodevi temple in Jammu to seek divine intervention.

Yeddyurappa left the city by a special flight and reach the temple by a helicopter, sources in the Chief Minister’s Secretariat told.

Yeddyurappa has been visiting Vaishno Devi temple whenever he faced political crisis or threat to his chair.

He visited the temple in 2009 and 2010, when BJP rebels upped their ante demanding change in leadership. (AGENCIES)

Bihar’s ‘absconding’ minister resigns

PATNA, May 19:Under pressure from Opposition parties, Bihar Cooperative Minister and BJP leader Ramadhar Singh, declared an absconder by a court 16 years ago, resigned from the Nitish Kumar Cabinet.

Singh sent his resignation to Chief Minister Nitish Kumar late last night, officials at the CM’s office said today.

Singh told PTI today that the allegation against him of being an absconder since 1995 was true.

"Therefore, I decided to put in my papers. I was not aware of a court declaring me as an absconder in this case," he said.

"If I was aware, I would have approached the court for bail. Even my lawyers did not inform me about this," he claimed.

"After coming to know about being declared as an absconder in this case, my first duty was to resign before taking legal remedy," he said.

Singh’s move comes after the Opposition RJD demanded that he be dropped from the cabinet.

A RJD delegation led by state party chief Ramchandra Purve and Leader of the Opposition in Assembly Abdul Bari Siddiqui had yesterday called on Governor Devanand Konwar seeking Singh’s immediate dismissal.

The RJD delegation alleged that a case had been registered against Singh over a communal speech he made in Aurangabad district in 1992.

"Singh was declared an absconder by a court in May 1995 after he repeatedly failed to appear before it in connection with the case," they had said.

They further alleged that Singh had concealed the cases against him in the affidavit while filing nomination from the Aurangabad assembly seat in 2010 polls that he won on a BJP ticket. (PTI)

Lokpal drafting process slow: Shanti Bhushan

NEW DELHI, May 19:Terming as "slow" the drafting of Lokpal Bill, joint panel co-chair Shanti Bhushan today expressed doubts over completion of the process by the deadline of June 30 and urged the government to communicate to the civil society its position on issues of divergence.

In a letter to Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, heading the joint drafting committee, he also demanded that after May 30, the meetings of the drafting committee should take place at least thrice a week if not on a daily basis.

"The deadline for drafting Jan Lokpal Bill is June 30. The progress so far has been slow. I, as co-chairperson, am worried whether we will be able to meet our deadline," he said in the letter.

Pointing out that the May seven meeting had discussed seven points of basic principles of Jan Lokpal Bill, he said Home Minister P Chidambaram had informed which of the seven points were straightaway acceptable to the government.

"Discussions started on those points where there was some divergence. I suggest that in the next meeting to be held on May 23, let the government first present its views on all the balance points in basic principles," he said.

Bhushan said the government should present its "concerns" and "possible solutions" on each of the points on which it differ.

He also noted that the government should communicate whether it wish to add any point to the basic principles presented by the civil society. "Once these are presented, we can go ahead with discussions on issues of divergence," he said.

He also reiterated the demand for video recording of the committee meetings. "In the meeting held on May two, you (Mukherjee) had said that you would consult your colleagues and let us know your decision.

"I would again argue that the proceedings should be video-recorded and released to the public after the law has been finally drafted," he said.

The representatives of the government and civil society had agreed on basic principles of the proposed law on anti-corruption ombudsman like transparency in selection process and autonomy but inclusion of Prime Minister and judiciary in the the ambit of the Lokpal was a sticking point.

There was agreement on various issues like transparency in the process of appointment of the Lokpal, the autonomy of the ombudsman and financial independence for such an office in the meeting.

However, government made it clear to civil society that more discussions were needed on having state-level Lokpals as consultations need to be held with state governments on the issue. (PTI)



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