Held on arrival: on Karti Chidambaram’s arrest
Having arrested Karti, the least the CBI is obliged to do is flesh out the case against him
Whether the arrest of Karti Chidambaram, son of former Union Minister P. Chidambaram, will result in some forward movement in a criminal investigation that has been going on for a long time remains to be seen. The action by the Central Bureau of Investigation comes as many as nine months after it registered an FIR, which raises the question about why it was necessary to seek his remand now. In its FIR of May 2017, the CBI accused Mr. Karti of being part of a conspiracy (कपट प्रबंध) with the promoters of a media company to help them get around legal issues related to foreign direct investment. Details available suggest that the primary violations of FDI norms were allegedly (अभिकथित रूप से) committed by the companies involved, INX Media (P) Ltd. and INX News (P) Ltd. The Foreign Investment Promotion Board had cleared the inflow of ₹4.62 crore to INX Media. However, the company made a downstream investment in another company, INX News, which received ₹300 crore by allocating shares at a premium to investors. The FIPB’s stand was that such downstream investment required separate clearance. The FIR alleges that in order to avoid penal action, INX Media roped in Mr. Karti to influence “public servants of the FIPB Unit in the Finance Ministry by virtue of his relationship to the then Finance Minister”. The charges against him flow from the claim that a company said to be linked to him received ₹10 lakh as “management consultancy charges towards FIPB notification and clarification” and that other companies in which he allegedly had interests billed INX Media to the tune of ₹3.50 crore in the name of providing media content and consultancy. New charges of Mr. Karti accepting $1 million from INX Media have been used to secure his remand.
That the allegations are serious and deserving of a thorough (विस्तृत) probe is not in doubt. The question is whether there is need to arrest someone in a case like this — where the evidence is largely, if not entirely, documentary; where the risks of influencing the investigation or tampering with evidence are remote, if not non-existent; and where there is no apprehension of him fleeing the country and evading the law. The arrest closely follows that of his chartered accountant and the interrogation of Indrani Mukherjee, who was the co-founder of INX Media and its former CEO. As things stand, the CBI will be aware that its case against Mr. Karti will add up to something only if it is able to furnish (सुस्सजित करना) specific details to establish that he was part of a conspiracy to influence FIPB approvals along with officials of the Finance Ministry. If one leaves aside the ₹10 lakh payment, the other details in the FIR are of a somewhat (कुछ-कुछ) general nature and need to be backed up with documentary evidence. Failure to do so will only result in lending greater credibility to those who dismiss the case against Mr. Karti as political vendetta (प्रतिशोध), and raise further questions about the necessity of and the motives for having him arrested.
- Conspiracy: a group involved in secret or criminal activities
Synonyms: cabal, crew, gang, Mafia, mob, ring, syndicate
- Allegedly: Used to convey that something is claimed to be the case or have taken place, although there is no proof.
Synonyms: reportedly, supposedly, reputedly, purportedly, ostensibly, apparently, by all accounts, so the story goes, putatively, presumedly, presumably, assumedly, declaredly, avowedly
- Thorough: having no exceptions or restrictions
Synonyms: absolute, all-out, arrant, blank, categorical (also categoric), clean, complete, consummate, cotton-picking, crashing, dead, deadly, definite, downright, dreadful, fair, flat, flat-out, out-and-out, outright, perfect, plumb, profound, pure, rank, regular, sheer, simple, stark, straight-out, thoroughgoing, total, unadulterated, unalloyed, unconditional, unmitigated, unqualified, utter, very
Antonyms: doubtful, dubious, equivocal, qualified, questionable, restricted, uncertain
- Furnish: to provide (someone) with what is needed for a task or activity
Synonyms: accoutre (or accouter), equip, fit (out), gird, outfit, provision, rig, supply
Antonyms: deprive, dispossess, divest, strip
- Somewhat: to some degree or extent
Synonyms: enough, fairly, kind of, like, moderately, more or less, pretty, quite, rather, relatively, something, sort of
Antonyms: awfully, beastly, deadly, especially, exceedingly (also exceeding), exceptionally, extremely, frightfully, greatly, heavily, highly, hugely, mightily, mortally, particularly, surpassingly, terribly, very
- Vendetta: A prolonged bitter quarrel with or campaign against someone.
Synonyms: feud, blood feud, quarrel, argument, falling-out, wrangle, clash, altercation, dispute, fight, war
E-way bills redux: next step for GST Council
This next step in the GST regime must factor in industry and States’ reservations
The group of ministers assessing (आँका जाना) technology issues related to the Goods and Services Tax regime has proposed rolling out on April 1 the e-way bill system to track inter-State movement of goods above the value of ₹50,000. A final decision on the launch of the system will now be taken by the GST Council at its next meeting. A plan to start it on February 1 had to be abandoned (अतिदुष्ट) after the IT network to create the bills crashed in its first few hours after generating about five lakh bills. The government decided to defer its roll-out till the technical glitches (विधारी), like those businesses faced while filing online returns on the GST Network initially after its July 1 roll-out last year, were removed. For intra-State goods movement, the government had said all States must launch their own e-way bill systems by June 1. Now the ministerial group headed by Bihar Finance Minister Sushil Modi has proposed that instead of bringing all States and Union Territories on board together, introducing intra-State e-way Bills in four or five at a time is better. For businesses with operations across the country, this proposal will pose a fresh compliance (अनुरूपता) headache as some States may require e-way Bills for internal movement of goods while others will not. Industry already has several reservations about the e-way bill regime, including the norm that such bills are generated for all goods travelling 10 km from the point of origin.
The government’s haste (चाल) is understandable, given its fiscal compulsions. After a monthly inflow of over ₹90,000 crore in the first three months of the tax regime, revenue collections dipped. From a peak of ₹92,283 crore in July 2017 — that the Centre reckoned (अनुमान करना) was adequate to deal with its revenue targets and compensate States for revenue losses — GST collections between October and January averaged ₹84,294 crore per month. This may be partly because of the large-scale rationalisation of tax rates carried out recently, but registered taxpayers are also finding ways to avoid tax dues. Data for January bear this out — about 69% of the over one crore registered businesses filed returns, with wide variations across territories. In Punjab, 83% taxpayers filed returns, while industrially developed States, including Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu, didn’t fare as well. This disparity (अन्तर) must be factored in by the GST Council when it considers proposals for a staggered (विचलता) launch of the intra-State e-way bill system. Boosting compliance is critical for further rationalisation of multiple GST rates, the Finance Minister has said. To achieve that goal, it must be ensured that States and industry are comfortable with the e-way bill regime, and that the IT backbone doesn’t crash this time.
- Assessing: to make an approximate or tentative judgment regarding
Synonyms: appraise, estimate, evaluate, guesstimate, rate, set, valuate, value
- Abandoned: left unoccupied or unused
Synonyms: derelict, deserted, desolate, disused, forgotten, forsaken, rejected, vacant, vacated, void
Antonyms: reclaimed, recovered, redeemed, rescued, retrieved, salvaged, saved
- Glitches: A sudden, usually temporary malfunction or fault of equipment.
Synonyms: crash, breakdown, fault, failure, defect, flaw, collapse, impairment
- Compliance: the following of a custom, rule, or law
Synonyms: abidance, adherence, conformance, conformity, keeping, obedience, observance, observation
Antonyms: breach, contravention, infraction, infringement, nonobservance, transgression, trespass, violation
- Haste: excited and often showy or disorderly speed
Synonyms: hastiness, hurry, hustle, precipitation, precipitousness, rush
Antonyms: deliberateness, deliberation
- Reckoned: to have as an opinion
Synonyms: believe, conceive, consider, deem, esteem, feel, figure, guess, hold, imagine, judge, suppose, think
Antonyms: distrust, doubt, mistrust, question, suspect
- Disparity: the quality or state of being different
Synonyms: contrast, difference, disagreement, discrepancy, disparateness, dissimilarity, dissimilitude, distance, distinction, distinctiveness, distinctness, diverseness, diversity, otherness, unlikeness
Antonyms: alikeness, analogousness, analogy, community, likeness, resemblance, sameness, similarity
- Staggered: to move forward while swaying from side to side
Synonyms: careen, dodder, lurch, reel, teeter, totter, waddle