Current Affairs Today - Current Affairs 2014

CBDT sets up panel to recommend steps to reduce litigation

In an unprecedented move, the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT)set up a six-member panel to examine the “efficacy” of the existing primary litigation mechanism in the Income Tax (IT) Department. The step has been taken in the wake of an estimated Rs 4 lakh crore of tax revenue locked up in litigation. The empowered committee, under the chairmanship of senior IRS officer and Chief Commissioner of Income Tax office in Ahmedabad Rani S Nair, has also been mandated to suggest steps to reduce legal cases at the IT department’s two dispute resolution forums and asked to submit its report within 8 weeks.

The panel has been constituted with an objective to evaluate the efficacy of existing dispute resolution forums of Commissioners of I-T (Appeals) and Income Tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT) and to recommend steps to reduce litigation before these forums.

Currently, there is a four-stage grievance redressal and litigation mechanism available to a taxpayer. It starts with an appeal to the Commissioner of I-T Appeals called CIT (A), further up to the ITAT and subsequently to the High Court and the Supreme Court.

CBDT, the topmost policy making body of the I-T department, has also assigned the new committee with the task of undertaking a fresh initiative and categorize and examine select assessment orders issued by I-T officers across the country under various income groups (returned income).

The categories defined by CBDT include income under Rs 25 lakh, income between Rs 25 lakh-Rs 1 crore, between Rs 1 crore-Rs 10 crore and above Rs 10 crore.

German World Cup-winning captain Philipp Lahm retires

Philipp Lahm, the captain of Germany’s football team, announced his retirement from international football. His retirement announcement comes just five days after Germany led by him bagged its fourth football World Cup defeating Argentina in the final of the 2014 FIFA World Cup held in Brazil.

Lahm is the country’s fourth most-capped player behind Lothar Matthaus (150), Klose (137) and Lukas Podolski (116).He is also the 4th Mannschaft captain to win the World Cup Trophy, after Fritz Walter in 1954, Franz Beckenbauer in 1974 and Matthaus in 1990.

Typhoon Rammasun (Glenda) hits Philippines

Even as the Philippines was trying to recover from the destruction caused by super typhoon Haiyan last year, another typhoon Rammasun smashed large parts of the Philippines killing one person and forcing hundreds of thousands to take shelter in evacuation centres. Typhoon Rammasun (also known as Glenda) hit south of Manila on the Philippine island of Luzon before moving west toward China’s Hainan Island.

Sustained wind speeds were estimated at over 230 kilometers per hour, making Rammasun a Category 4 storm (and just short of being officially classified a “super typhoon”). Rammasun, which is Thai for “God of Thunder”, is now heading into the South China Sea and is likely to hit South China.

The Philippines was recently hit by Super Typhoon Haiyan in November 2013 and devastated Samar and adjoining Leyte island, killing up to 7300 people in one of the nation’s worst natural disasters.

Malaysia Airlines aircraft MH17 crashed in Ukraine

In a tragic and shocking incident, Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 (MH17/MAS17), a commercial aircraft on its scheduled flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, crashed in east Ukraine.

It is suspected to have been shot down with a BUK surface-to-air missile. The aircraft crashed near Hrabove (area under military control of Donbass People’s Militia) in Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine about 40 km (25 miles) from the Ukraine–Russia border.All 283 passengers and 15 crew on board the Boeing 777-200ER airliner died.

The aircraft crashed in the conflict zone of the ongoing Donbass rebellion, in the area controlled by pro-Russian rebel groups. A BUK missile smashed the plane at an altitude of 10,000 m (33,000 ft).

The BUK missile system is a class of self-propelled, medium-range surface-to-air missile systems developed by the Soviet Union and its successor state, the Russian Federation, and designed to counter cruise missiles, smart bombs, fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft, and UAVs.

SC notice to all states and UTs on the issue of legalizing euthanasia

The Supreme Court has issued notice to all states and Union territories on a plea for legalizing passive euthanasia. The apex court issued the notice on a petition filed with it, saying the question of passive euthanasia (mercy killing) needs a comprehensive examination as there was no authoritative judicial pronouncement on the issue.

A Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice RM Lodha, Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar, Justice J. Chelameswar, Justice AK Sikri and Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman issued the notice on a plea filed with it, saying the question of passive euthanasia (mercy killing) needs a comprehensive examination as there was no authoritative judicial pronouncement on the issue.

The Centre is strongly opposed to the idea of legalizing passive euthanasia as it considers it as a form of suicide which is an offence in the country. It is also apprehensive that if euthanasia is legalized, then it will be misused.