Citizen Interference is A Must


We have disorders in our political governance which enormously delay our development, because the citizens are not adequately and directly participating. Our experience so far shows that to have good governance, it is not at all sufficient to going to vote once in five years. Now, we have the means, enough Information & Communication channels available to watch, suggest, propose and even to participate in the process of decision-makers, whether they are our Representatives and Administrators.

Here are several ways to stay engaged with the lawmakers. These suggestions are made by Subhash Chandra Agarwal and you can write to appropriate authorities for action.

  1. Uniformity in applicability of levying GST on lawyers and other professionals is required. Presently, lawyers are exempted from being under the purview of Goods and Service Tax (GST), while other professionals including consultants in various fields come under purview of GST. This discrimination between lawyers and other professionals is unfair.
  2. What is the Relevance of Revenue Stamps? At present, Revenue-stamp is required for receipts of amounts 5,000 rupees or above, even though payment is made through banks. Union government should do away with this requirement.

3. Mega-merger of public-sector banks should pave the way for banking on all the seven days of the week. Merging banks to just 12 from earlier 29 should be utilized to make all the bank-branches work on all the seven days of the week. Resulting surplus banking-staff may be used for this purpose.

4. Expenses for treatment of Covid should be exempted under Section 80DDB of Income Tax rules. Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has provided Income Tax exemption on the amount received by a taxpayer for medical treatment from employer or from any person. At the same time, CBDT should include Covid-19 as a specified disease, so that the expenses by an individual may be exempted. Rather, such an exemption should be extended for family-members having spent for medical expenses of other family-member.

5. Abolish the Useless practice of having Oath Commissioners and Notary Public. Power of attestation should be given to lawyers, chartered-accountants, medical-practitioners, officers of government and public-sector-undertakings and other such responsible categories of persons. Also to the Station-House-Officers (SHOs) of police-stations. The concept of Self-Attestation which has been recently-introduced, may be increased further for other documents.

6. Re-constitute Prime Minister National Relief Fund. It was constituted by the first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru in 1948. Since Congress was the only dominating political party at that time, the Congress President was made a permanent member. Now, the Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha may take that place. It is also not necessary to have the Deputy Prime Minister as one of its members. Further, there was a permanent nominee from Tata Trustees because the Tatas were the leading-most industrial giant in the country at that time. To be fair to each industrial-group and to get additional-contributions to PMNRF, one might enlarge the representation from the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industries (FICCI).

A New Income Tax Act should replace six decades old Income Tax Act of 1961, which became very cumbersome with too many Amendments. Further, the British legacy of April-March fiscal-year should be changed to the calendar year of January to December, to be in tune with most countries in the world, as recommended by LK Jha Committee. All exemptions including on agricultural income, donations and contributions to political parties now need to be abolished altogether, beyond  rupees five-lakhs. Highest tax-slab of 30-percent should be restored with a permanent Voluntary Disclosure Scheme.

7. RTI Replies should be made more reliable. It is reported in ‘Bar and Bench’ in July that a Supreme Court Bench observed that the RTI replies are not very reliable. Observation was also generic. The Supreme Court, High Courts and the lower courts should direct authorities to take action against the concerned officers for giving unreliable RTI replies. The RTI fees should be uniform for all public-authorities at rupees 50 for the first 20 copied-pages of reply, at no charge for Appeals.

8. Too many Raj Bhawans in a state is a sign of monarchy. Some States are spending lavishly on maintaining Raj Bhawans (Governor Houses) in more than one city in the state; some of which are spread over several hundreds of acres. Even President of India also has a similar royal facility of Rashtrapati Nilayam at Hyderabad. Time has come that all these surplus Governor houses and Rashtrapati Nilayams be disinvested through open auction, with a pre-condition to maintain their heritage characteristics. Likewise Hyderabad House in New Delhi should also be disinvested. Developing of a Central Vista is likely to eliminate the need for such extra large government ministerial bungalows in Lutyen’s zone and other places in New Delhi.

Uniform pricing of all petroleum products is necessary by bringing these under GST system with net payable prices in round figures and it is better to do weekly price-revision rather than daily. Oil companies had once decided to replace old iron-cylinders by transparent plastic cylinders to check usual incidents of pilferage. However new plastic gas-cylinders should be in 20 kg packing to be in true spirit of metric-packaging and for lasting long. LPG subsidy should be gradually abolished, and even presently it should be provided only to the families earning less than rupees ten lakhs in total. Prices once increased should not be reduced even after reduction in global crude-prices. Such saving should be kept in reserve to avoid future increase in case of further global price-rise of crude. All public-sector oil companies marketing in petrol, diesel and LPG should be merged to avoid unnecessary overheads.

 9. The Supreme Court should intervene to prevent anti-national economic policies by the Governments to appease voters. Let’s make people more self-reliant  rather than promising freebies for electoral purposes. Providing free water, electricity, bus-travel for women, medicines in government hospitals are nothing but vote-bank politics which ultimately prove a big burden on honest and productive middle-income tax-paying families. Urban citizens want better services and not free services. There must be some minimum charges to pay for everything that costs something to produce.

Limit the number of pages in court-verdicts or else, issue a precise-version simultaneously to be posted on website on date of judgement itself. Courts especially Supreme Court are giving very lengthy judgements at times running into hundreds or thousands of pages. Like in other countries, there should be a limit on number of pages of court-verdicts.

Bombay High Court follows the Supreme Court in allowing A-4 size paper, a practice which should be adopted by all courts, with production of legal-size paper altogether stopped.

10.Time-bound verdicts are necessary at High Courts and Supreme Court. Rules must be made to fix some reasonable time-limit for judgements and for hearings. Moreover, when a Single or Division Bench of High Court or Supreme Court desires matter to be heard by a larger bench, then such a decision should be taken compulsorily within one month.

Printing of one-rupee notes should be discontinued because of its short life and high printing cost. Where are the new varnish-coated 100-rupee notes as promised by The Union Ministers of Finance Anurag Thakur in 2020 and Namo Narain Meena in 2013?

Central government should merge all public-sector companies for general insurance into one unified General Insurance Corporation of India so as to reduce unnecessary overheads, delays and to lower premiums.                                                                     --- From Madhu or Subhash Chandra Agarwal, New Delhi. Tel: 9810080011 email: https://www.facebook. com/madhuguinness.

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