The Centre has armed itself with sweeping powers to ban strikes in essential services. An ordinance promulgated on July 26 empowers a police officer to arrest without warrant any person “reasonably” suspected of having committed any offence under it. The ordnance makes liable to penal action and disciplinary proceedings including dismissal from services not only workers joining an “illegal” strike but also those instigating or inciting others to join such a strike or giving financial support to it. The ordinance, branded by trade unions and Opposition leaders as “draconian”, was approved at a hastily convened meeting of the Union Cabinet shortly after the return of Indira Gandhi from Srinagar. Though the ordinance gives a long list of essential services brought within its purview, the powers conferred on the Centre are wide enough to include any other service connected with matters on which Parliament has powers to make laws.
Sikar district and 10 villages in Bharatpur district have come under the grip of severe floods in Rajasthan following rains in these areas. With this, seven districts have come under floods affecting about 53,000 families and 650 villages. The Rajasthan government has asked the Centre to send a team of officers for a preliminary assessment of the damage caused by the flood. It’s planning to seek Central assistance to tide over the crisis.
The Union Finance Minister R Venkataraman promised relaxation in income tax rates, provided the response to the government’s efforts at promoting voluntary compliance was “adequate” and subject to voluntary compulsions. The demand for lowering tax rates, both corporate and non-corporate, has been raised by several members of the direct tax advisory committee. The Assocham head has also supported the proposal.
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