Godhra verdict: 11 get death

The Gujarat High Court, established in the yea...

The Gujarat High Court

11 convicts in the Godhra train burning case were on 1st march 2011 handed down death sentence while 20 others were given life imprisonment by a special court in the 2002 Godhra incident incident.

In 2002, the coach (S-6) of the train Sabarmati Express coming from Bihar (Darbhanga) destined to Gujarat (Ahmedabad) was burned in Godhra (Gujarat) . About 58 people were burned to death, which consists of mostly Hindu Pilgrims.

This event triggered a widespread communal violence in Gujarat that resulted in deaths of about 790 to 2000 Muslims and about 254 Hindus.

In the very first police FIR after the incident, the incident was viewed as an unplanned mob fury.

But, a special investigation team (SIT) of Gujarat state police put forth an argument that the act was pre-planned by a Muslim Group. It was said by the police that they had stockpiled about 140 liters of petrol a day before the attacks had to take place and the very purpose of these attacks was to kill the Kar-Sewaks.

In 2004, Railway Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav appointed Justice U C Banerjee to investigate Godhra incident.The Railways Ministry setup a commission that reported in 2005 that the fire was an accident. The Gujarat high court ruled the formation of this inquiry commission as “illegal” and “unconstitutional”. At present, all the reports of the commission by Railways stand invalid. Moreover, the outcome of this report has been questioned by BJP as politically motivated as its findings coincide with elections.

Special judge P. R. Patel considering this case as “rarest of rare” pronounced death penalty for 11 out of the 31 convicted in the case while 20 others were sentenced to life imprisonment.

“The court looking into their active role in the conspiracy and setting afire the S6 coach of Sabarmati Express train near Godhra, gave death penalty to 11 people,” public prosecutor J. M. Panchal said.

The court also slapped punishment on them under various other sections, which will be concurrent to their life term.

The prosecution had sought death sentence for all the 31 convicts, saying that it was a heinous act.

A special fast track court convicted 31 accused in Godhra train burning case.

Another 63 people were acquitted in the Godhra train burning conspiracy.

The special fast track court was appointed by Gujarat High Court after orders from the supreme court of India.

Mint Reports

Defence counsel I. M. Munshi said the convicts will definitely appeal against the punishment awarded to them.

“It (the punishment) is very difficult to swallow. Till we get the copy of the judgement, we cannot comment much,” Munshi said.

We definitely don’t what is more difficult to swallow – The killing of innocent people or the death sentence to those killed innocents. I think its the former.

Godhra Train Burning Results

Godhra verdict: Death for 11, life term for 20 – Economy and Politics – livemint.com.

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Union Budget 2011: Tax Expectations

Pranab Mukherjee, Indian politician, current F...

Pranab Mukherjee

Union Budget 2011: Tax Expectations.

Our finance minister Pranab Mukherjee will have to walk the tightrope by curbing inflation and boosting growth while addressing concerns over black money.

There are indications that the finance minister will announce increase in tax exemption but at the same time increase service tax and excise duty on manufactured products such as cars and TV sets to plug the fiscal deficit.

There is an indication that to cushion the tax blows, he may help ease petrol and diesel prices a bit by announcing tax cuts on the fuels.

There can be a tax immunity scheme that could help draw out concealed incomes to turn them into something productive.

Mukherjee may have some good news for the salaried class, with the government considering a marginal rise in the income tax exemption limit to Rs 2 lakh per year from the existing Rs 1.60 lakh to give people more money to offset inflation.

Presently, the existing annual tax exemption limits stand at Rs 1.6 lakh for men, Rs 1.9 lakh for earning women and Rs 2.4 lakh for senior citizens.

Pranab walks the tightrope – Hindustan Times.

Union Budget 2011 : A precursor

Union Budget of 2011-12 faces many challenges. There three main problems that this budget will have to tackle and mold its strategy to are

  1. Checking inflation and enhancing agricultural productivity
  2. Lifting supply-side constraints to economic growth
  3. Executing the long overdue fiscal correction.

Moreover the current political situation will not help the government in taking concrete steps for uplifting the economy. Like Mamata Banerjee, the politics of appeasement is expected to show at the union budget.

In the politics of appeasement, there is going to greater allocation to Rural India. The FMCG sector appears favourably positioned to gain from the coming Union Budget.

Fiscal deficit – poor quality of fiscal consolidation in FY12 will follow owing to the political scenario.

The congress led coalition has seen a dip in its popularity and it will try to boost its reputation by appeasing the masses. It is all set to take the populist card, just like Mamata Banerjee in the Railway Budget 2011.

Read More on Railway Budget.

Rail Budget 2011 : Economic Focus with Human Face

Railway Budget 2011- Causes for Indian Rail financial crisis

Rail Budget 2011 : The financial issues

The future growth of Indian Railways is to be increasingly subjected to the discipline of the capital market, including those overseas, even as

This time, the railway budget promised a dividend of Rs4,104.50 crore in this fiscal. It is 26% lower than Rs6,608.46 crore proposed in Mamata Banerjee’s 2010 budget.

It did this partly by cutting the back money dedicated on maintaining tracks and rolling stock.

Another feature of this budget was that it maintained the passenger fares constant. It has been the eight such year when the budget has not touched upon the passenger rates.

Moreover the freight rates too were kept constant.

Where will the money for new projects come from ?

Railways is looking to the debt market to finance its new projects especially infrastructure related projects.

Rail Budget 2011 : Economic Focus with Human Face

Mint Reports

The budget documents showed the railways had lowered the money transferred to its depreciation reserve fund by Rs1,900 crore for 2011-12 as compared with Banerjee’s projection last year. The fund is used to maintain and replace its assets.

Other than a lower transfer to the depreciation fund, Sahai said revamping the product mix during the fiscal to capitalize on the increasing magnitude of coal imports into India protected its receipts. Typically, two-thirds of receipts come from freight, primarily coal.

The Long Term issues

This year’s capital spending is to be financed partly through some of the railways’ reserve funds. These funds have seen a significant decline in net accretions over the years.

Mint Reports “In 2009-10, the last year for which final numbers are available, the aggregate closing balance of all funds fell by more than two-thirds in a single year to Rs5,032.06 crore.”

This railway budget has been silent on the big projects such as the Dedicated Freight Corridor. It has not indicated where the money for it will come and how long will it take to complete it. We discussed the case of Dedicated Freight Corridor and the concerns about Indian Railways Financial Health

Railway Budget 2011 – Dedicated Freight Corridor Project

The proposed Plan

Mint Reports, “In the budget estimates for 2011-12, the Plan outlay of Rs57,630 crore is to be met from Rs20,454 crore of market borrowings, including Rs10,000 crore of tax-free bonds.

Railways is in a position where it can no longer fund its projects through internal accruals of cash flows. The market borrowings are to funded through Indian Railways Finance Corp Ltd and it will carry an unwritten sovereign guarantee.

Railway Budget 2011- Causes for Indian Rail financial crisis

The total receipts of the railways in 2011-12 are projected at Rs1.09 trillion.

The dividend proposed is Rs6,734.72 crore.

The operating ratio (ratio of working expenses to gross earnings) is projected to improve marginally to 91.1% from around 98%.

The budget documents show that Indian railways expects to increase its contribution to the depreciation reserve fund by 23%.

Mamata going to market for money – Home – livemint.com.

Rail Budget 2011 : Economic Focus with Human Face

Mamata Banerjee,IMG 0276

Indian Railways Minster: Mamata Banerjee

Highlights of Railways Budget 2011-12

  • No hike in passenger fares
  • No hike in freight rates
  • Introduction of 9 non-stop Duronto Trains
  • Introduction of 3 Shatabdis
  • Reduction in the senior citizen age for women from 60 years to 58 years
  • Concession on senior citizens (Men above 60 years) from 30% to 40%
  • Announcement of a metro coach factory in Singur (West Bengal)
  • Announcement of Rail Industrial Park in Jelligham
  • integrated suburban network for Kolkata and 34 new services for the Kolkata metro

Her announcements for the state evoked protests from members including those from Bihar, UP and Kerala, but she appealed to them to be patient for her other announcements. Read more of this post

2G Scam: Telecom policy sound; Problem is faulty implementation

Manmohan Singh, current prime minister of India.

Dr Manmohan Singh

Opposition charged the government saying that the ministry of finance and telecom were not on the same page on 2G spectrum allocation .

Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh in his reply appeared to blame A Raja for the faulty implementation of the telecom policy. He said that these problems will now be looked into by the JPC, they are being looked into by the PAC and if there are any criminal aspects, they are looked into by CBI.

ET Reports

Dr Manmohan Singh said he was “categorically” assured by Raja that the policy of first-come first-served was being implemented appropriately. “Subsequent developments suggest that this was not the case.” Singh said the “public impatience” over action against the guilty was understandable but the government must follow the due process of law. “We are making every effort. Those found guilty will be dealt with under law,” he asserted.

The ministry of Finance earlier had different views but they were later narrowed down and sorted with regard to 2G spectrum pricing. Hence there is no reason to question allocation

Telecom policy sound; fault lies in its implementation, says PM – The Economic Times.

Railway Budget 2011 – Dedicated Freight Corridor Project

The Indian Railways is facing a severe financial crunch. Mamata Banerjee has attributed it to the change in accounting practices by Lalu Prasad Yadav, which they have reversed. Moreover, the costs on salaries have invreased due to the sixth pay commission. THE Dedicated Freight Corridor project (DFC) is facing the wrath of the financial crunch. It was announced in 2005 to create dedicated corridors for freight that would help Indian trains, both passenger and freight travel at their maximum speeds. It was expected to complete in 2012, but looking at the current scenario, it does not seem possible.

(Read about the causes of Indian Railways financial crunch here)

The consequences of this financial crunch on the DFC project

  • The Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC) project, is expected to cost around Rs. 77,000 crore. This includes the costs of borrowing and inflation.
  • The DFC project is being banked on heavily to remove the congestion in the rail network and allow trains to move at the maximum 140 Kmph. Read more of this post