When Jaitley sparred with Chidambaram

The Rajya Sabha witnessed a spirited debate over the Finance Bill, with finance minister Arun Jaitley facing some tough rebuttals from former finance minister P Chidambaram

GN Bureau | March 30, 2017


#Rajya Sabha   #Arun Jaitley   #Chidambaram   #finance minister   #finance bill  

This is what Arun Jaitley had to say:

 
We want to take action which may either want to have an assault on what is the shadow economy or the parallel economy itself. Let us take this example of what everybody has commented on Section 132. Section 132, in simple, is a provision which has existed long time. All it says is that there must be a satisfaction note prepared which must give details before you can search or seize a property. So, if there is a tax search, a satisfaction note must exist.
 
This was always the law and this will continue to be the law. So, nobody can enter the premises and start searching without a satisfaction note.
 
As regards political funding, historically, we have seen a situation where we made several changes in the past, and, those changes have produced only limited results. In the Budget this year, by a primary amendment to the Income Tax Act, we have made a provision where political funding in four different manners is made permissible.
 
The first is that anybody can donate money to a political party by cheque. Obviously, the donor will declare it in his accounts and the political party will declare it. And, there is complete freedom both for the donor and the recipient to receive that money. This is a practice which is in vogue since the year 2001-02. Obviously, our experience has been that there has only been limited success in this area and the reason for this limited success is that the donors have conventionally been reluctant, even when political parties have been willing, to encourage it by cheque, for reason of disclosure of identity and consequences that may fall on them.
 
But as far as tax evasion is concerned, the present Bill says, either give your Aadhaar number or give proof of the fact that you applied for it, that is all, in your tax assessment so that the possibility of a person committing tax frauds, filing through different pan cards, all that can be eliminated. Why should we not allow this technology which was created in larger public interest to be utilized for this particular purpose? Sir, these are broadly some of the main points as far as the taxation proposals are concerned. I may only say this that while encouraging more and more people to join the tax net, the lowest slab we have reduced to 5 per cent and the idea is that more people should feel attracted enough to join.
 
And this is what Chidambaram had to say:
 
The Income Tax Act is of 1961. It is now 56 years that this Act has been in operation. It is nobody's case that no raids have taken place in the last 56 years; it is nobody's case that sources have not given information; it is nobody's case that reasons have not been recorded; and, it cannot be the Finance Minister's case that in specific cases, those reasons have been challenged and I am sure the Finance Minister, as a lawyer, has, on  occasions, challenged those reasons and the Courts have struck down those reasons. The Commission can struck down the reasons. The Appellate Tribunal can say that this action was illegal because the reasons were either illusory, non-existent or unjustified.
 
All that Mr. Sibal argued is that the settled law is that reasons must be given to the assessee and the assessee must have the freedom to challenge it before an appropriate authority. Let the Finance Minister protect the source. In no case, is a source given. I have dealt with this Department. I have dealt with this subject as a lawyer. In no case, is a source given; only the reasons have to be given. If the reasons are bad, we have a right to challenge them. Let the Finance Minister say that all that he wants to protect is the source, but the reasons will be given to the assessee whenever he wants to challenge it.
 
We are grateful that you have acknowledged that Aadhaar was the initiative of the previous government and you have expanded it. The question is, one, the purpose of Aadhaar. Aadhaar was an instrument to extend services and benefits, especially, subsidies.
 
Aadhaar was never intended to be tagged to income tax returns and bank accounts. But if your Government has taken a decision to tag it to income tax accounts and bank accounts, so be it. I accept it, for the time being, that maybe there are some benefits by asking it to be tagged to income tax accounts and bank accounts. The larger question, that is being raised, and I think you should answer is, how will you protect the privacy of transactions in bank accounts? How will you protect the privacy of facts, material in the income tax returns? The Pentagon has been hacked, and five hundred million accounts have been hacked by somebody sitting in some country of Europe. What is the guarantee that you have the technology to prevent hacking of bank accounts, hacking of income tax accounts through the Aadhaar number? The complaint of Mr. Mahendra Singh Dhoni's wife is that her Aadhaar number is being made public. Now, if Aadhaar numbers are available to a large number of authorities, what is the guarantee that using the Aadhaar number route, these accounts will not be hacked and the privacy that is required to be maintained by these accounts will not be breached? That is the question.
 

Comments

 

Other News

How about flagging candidates with criminal past on ballot?

The concept of the ‘Rule of Law’ is the basic structure of our constitution. It becomes imperative to observe the rule of law in order to run the country according to the constitutional provisions. However, in reality, often politicians with criminal records get elected and even become part of

Advocating for Cities Where the Poor and Women Count

The Citymakers: How Women Are Building a Sustainable Future for Urban India, published by Hachette India this month, narrates the genesis and journey of the Mahila Housing SEWA Trust (MHT), set up in 1994 to respond to t

‘Media worst affected with massive job losses’

Coming down heavily on the government for economic de-growth and job losses, Congress national spokesperson Supriya Shrinate has said that even before the Covid pandemic struck, the economy  had been falling down for eight consecutive quarters. The former journalist said that while the

Covid-19: Maintain caution, say new MHA Guidelines

The ministry of home affairs (MHA) on Wednesday issued an ‘Order with Guidelines for Surveillance, Containment and Caution’, effective for the month of December, noting that “to fully overcome the pandemic, there is need to maintain caution and to strictly follow the prescribed containmen

Lakshmi Vilas Bank to be amalgamated with DBS Bank India

The scheme of amalgamation of Lakshmi Vilas Bank Limited (LVB) with DBS Bank India Limited (DBIL) has been approved by the union cabinet on Wednesday. On November 17, to protect depositors’ interest and in the interest of financial and banking stability, on RBI’s application und

Changing landscapes of govt schools in rural India

Education is one of the primary requisites that contribute to the holistic development process of self and society. Article 21A of the Constitution considers “free and compulsory education of all children in the age group of six to fourteen years as a Fundamental Right.” In India, the majority

Archives

Current Issue

Opinion

Facebook    Twitter    Google Plus    Linkedin    Subscribe Newsletter

Twitter