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Rahul Gandhi ask people to contribute towards Kerala relief fund

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Kerala flood

New Delhi | Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Thursday expressed concern over the flood situation in Kerala and took to Twitter to make a fervent appeal to people for help by contributing to the Chief Minister’s relief fund.

He also tagged the link of the Chief Minister’s relief fund to his tweet asking people to contribute, and said “it is time to step up and help”.

“I am deeply concerned for the people of #Keralatonight, as the flood waters rise. Thousands are stranded. Relief camps full. Many have lost their loved ones. It’s time to step up & help. Please contribute generously to the CM’s relief fund,” he said on Twitter tagging the link.

The death toll in the current phase of monsoon fury in the southern State has touched 72. Rise in flood waters in Periyar River due to the rains and opening of all shutters of all major dams including Mullaperiyar, Cheruthoni, part of Idukki reservoir, and Idamalayar, have severely affected lives of people in downstream areas.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan once again called up Prime Minister Narendra Modi and apprised him of the flood situation in the State. The State has also sought the services of additional Army personnel and helicopters and the Prime Minister has assured all help, Mr. Vijayan said.

Kochi Metro suspended operations this morning after flood waters entered the Muttom yard near Aluva and train services have been affected in various parts of the State with cancellation of many passenger trains and partial cancellation of some long distance train.

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India, Spain discuss cooperation in defence, counter-terrorism

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Sushma Swaraj is warmly received by Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell Fontellas at the Viana Palace, Minister’s official residence

Madrid | India and Spain on Tuesday discussed cooperation in trade, defence and counter terrorism as External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj held talks with her Spanish counterpart Josep Borrell.

On behalf the government, Swaraj also accepted the prestigious Grand Cross of Order of Civil Merit conferred by Spain in recognition of India’s support in evacuating 71 Spanish nationals during April 2015 Nepal earthquake.

Swaraj was warmly received by Borrell at the Viana Palace, his official residence, ahead of the meeting. This was their third meeting in five months.

“EAM Swaraj and Spanish Foreign Minister held detailed talks over a working breakfast. Took stock of relationship across the spectrum, specially in trade & investment, defence & security, counter terrorism, culture and tourism,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar tweeted.

Swaraj, who arrived in Spain on Monday, also interacted with the Indian community in Spain and thanked them for their contribution in diverse fields and promoting India-Spain relations.

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Appellate Tribunal scraps ₹ 2,000 crore tax demand of Harshad Mehta 17 years after his death

Ali Azar

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The original “big bull” or as some articles stated “raging bull” of the Indian stock market from way back in the late 1980’s and early 90’s – Harshad Mehta, who also happens to have perpetrated the biggest stock market scam, which is pegged to be in the vicinity of 4,000 to 5,000 crores in the 90’s, is back in the news again, some 17 years after his death, at the age of just 47, during custody.

There is good news for the late Harshad Mehta and his family which includes his wife Jyoti and his brother Ashwin. After 27 years of an intense battle involving claims, couter-claims and cross appeals, an Income Tax demand on him and his family members, of little above ₹ 2,000 crores has finally been scrapped by the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT), reviving memories of the 1992 securities scam that shook the country and changed the rules of the game on Dalal Street.

The ITAT while scrapping the additions made by the IT Department for the assessment year 1992-93, made an observation that every receipt of money cannot be termed as a taxable income by default, and it is the job of the department to compute the correct taxable income embedded in every transaction. The Tribunal reiterated that this cardinal principle of taxation must be followed notwithstanding the magnitude of the scam and in spite of probes and observations by Joint Parliamentary Committee, RBI, CBI and the seizure of volumes of documents by the IT Department.

The scam perpetrated by Harshad Metha involved colluding with bank employees to get fake bank receipts issued to him. He then used these fake bank receipts to make other banks lend him money against those receipts, and used the proceeds to invest in the stock market and artificially drive up the price of stocks. In one case he took the share price of ACC Cement up from ₹ 200 to ₹ 9000, which was an increase of 4400%.

However, the day he sold the shares to book profits, volumes were so large that the entire market crashed.

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Robert Vadra skips ED appearance, cites bad health

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Robert Vadra

New Delhi | Robert Vadra, brother-in-law of Congress president Rahul Gandhi, Tuesday skipped his scheduled appearance before the Enforcement Directorate in a money laundering case probe, citing his bad health, officials said.

They said Vadra’s lawyers informed the investigating officer (IO) of the case their client is unwell and hence will be unable to join the probe related to allegations of money laundering to purchase assets abroad.

They said the businessman, also the son-in-law of Congress leader Sonia Gandhi, may appear either on Wednesday or on a mutually acceptable date later this week. Vadra was questioned by the ED in this case for 23 hours over three days of deposition earlier this month. He has been asked by a Delhi court to cooperate in the probe being conducted by the central probe agency.

The ED case against Vadra relates to allegations of money laundering in the purchase of a London-based property located at 12, Bryanston Square worth 1.9 million GBP (British pounds), which is allegedly owned by him.

The agency had told the court that it has received information about various new properties in London which belong to Vadra. These include two houses, one worth 5 million GBP and the other valued at 4 million GBP, six other flats and more properties.

Vadra has denied the allegations of possessing illegal foreign assets and termed them a political witch hunt against him. He said he was being “hounded and harassed” to subserve political ends.

Sources said Vadra’s statement was recorded under Section 50 (powers of authorities regarding summons, production of documents and to give evidence) of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), on the last three occasions.

His appearance before the ED earlier this month acquired political overtones after his wife Priyanka Gandhi, recently appointed Congress general secretary in-charge of eastern Uttar Pradesh, accompanied him to the investigating agency’s office on one day while she picked him up after questioning the next time.

Vadra had similarly deposed before the ED twice in Jaipur in an another money-laundering case related to an alleged land scam in Bikaner.

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