Punjab Current Affairs
Northern states of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Union Territories of Delhi and Chandigarh have agreed to fix uniform tax rates on petroleum products, amid rising fuel prices. Besides, these states and UTs also have agreed to bring uniformity in taxes on liquor and registration of vehicles and transport permit. This decision will lead to increase in government revenue and at the same time curb black marketing. It will also help to curb diversion of trade.
Decision in this regard was taken at meeting finance ministers of five states and officials of UT Chandigarh held in Chandigarh to deliberate on fixing uniform rate of taxes on petrol and diesel. The meeting was initiative of Haryana Finance and Excise and Taxation Minister Captain Abhimanyu.
In this meeting it was decided to bring uniformity in VAT rates on petrol and diesel in order to provide relief to consumers. It was also decided to have uniform policy for state transport so that there should be no loss of revenue from registration and permit fees because of different tax rates.
The participating states also decided to constitute a sub-committee, which would give their recommendation with regard to uniformity in tax rates in next fifteen days. Committee of officials has also been set up for excise and transport, which will send report to their respective state governments on the uniformity of rates.
Punjab Legislative Assembly has unanimously passed Indian Penal Code (Punjab Amendment) Bill, 2018 and Code of Criminal Procedure (Punjab Amendment) Bill, 2018 to make sacrilege of all religious texts punishable with life imprisonment. This comes week after State Cabinet chaired by Chief Minister Arminder Singh approved the amendments. Besides, Justice (retired) Ranjit Singh Commission report on incidents of desecration of religious texts was also tabled in the assembly.
These Bills amends Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) to add necessary provisions. IPC (Punjab Amendment) Bill, 2018 inserts section 295AA to IPC which says that whoever causes injury, damage or sacrilege to holy religious texts with intention to hurt religious feelings of people, will be punished with imprisonment for life. The main objective of making sacrilege of religious texts punishable offence with life imprisonment is to preserve communal harmony in the society.
Previously Punjab assembly in 2016, when the previous SAD-BJP government was in power, had also passed Indian Penal Code (Punjab Amendment) Bill, 2016 and Code of Criminal Procedure (Punjab Amendment) Bill, 2016. The amendments at that time were approved to seek life imprisonment for desecration of Guru Granth Sahib, holy book of Sikhs which is considered as a living guru in Sikhism. President had refused to grant assent after Centre had raised objections to these Bills. Centre had raised objection, saying punishment of life imprisonment could not be limited to desecration of holy book of just one religion and should instead be for all religions. Both of these earlier bills now stand withdrawn with passage of new Bills.