Somesh Arora: Simple law makers- Simple laws

Problem with service tax think tank in the North Block seems to be that we have too many intellectuals and intelligent people handling the tax law and policy making process now for some years. The outcome is one of the most complicated and confused law in hand, hard to understand even for lawyers not to talk of common man. May be the job can be better performed by Officers of simple understanding. The law made can be made to be understood by any average educated Small Scale Service Provider tax payer. For if he understands the law it can be understood by most Indians. We can even call it S.S.S.P.  test of understanding quotient of taxpayers. I am sure most of our present Service tax law makers will know what is wrong with their law and Policy making and it will also mean less frequent amendments in the law. For that law is the best that needs least amendment over a period of time.

Garlands of the border village: This one happened while I was posted as Assistant Commissioner on Punjab border in 1990. On tour to Amritsar from Chandigarh, Commissioner suddenly decided to make a visit to some border villages and Border Out Posts( B.O.P.s), which were at the relevant time taken over by Army from B.S.F. On receipt of message at Wagah Border, the Brigadier In charge was informed of the visit to extend courtesies and protocol. The visit though happened at short notice went off well with expressions of happiness and thanks by  the Commissioner. On visit to one of the border villages which was half in Pak territory and half in India, the Village Sarpanch extended courtesies by welcoming and offering quite a few garlands to Commissioner and also the usual tea and snacks. Visit over; it was time for us to thank the Sarpanch for all that he did. The Brigadier accompanying me was however surprised and could not help asking the Sarpanch as to how he managed to arrange the garlands at such a short notice, as the nearest market place was also a 30-45 minutes drive and all that he had was 15-20 minutes’ notice. The reply was amusing and also showed the quick witted rustic wisdom of Punjabis at the border.  “So what, Sir, the moment I got your message, I told my folks to keep the garlands ready and they all quickly brought it from the photos of their dead ones to offer to the Commissioner”. May suffice to say that the garlands were got retrieved,  and sent  back to Sarpanch to put them back to the place where they belonged.

Rare gems on the rear side of the Trucks : A peaceful drive on the G.T.Road especially in the North can be pleasure for the messages that are carried by the truck owners on the back side of the trucks. Savour some of the recent ones with the crude translation:

1.         Sasti Daru, mehanga petrol. Jhum da jat dawe gadi rok.—Ever since the liquor has become cheaper than petrol, many wayward boozers stop  on the way.

2.         Vehicle with registration number 1670- main jad to ho gayi 16 di, mere piche pe gaye 70 de- Ever since I have become sweet sixteen, I am being chased even by the 70 years old.

3.         And to keep the traffic cops at bay- Mame naal setting- Cops( Maternal uncles) are all set with me.

4.         Buri nazar wale, NRI ho ja- You with the evil eye go and become the Non-Resident Indian.

Right to sleep:  Right to sleep as a fundamental right though pronounced in a case pertaining to mid night swoop on Swami Ramdev`s gathering at Ram Leella grounds by Delhi Police has drawn some comments from Justice Kapadia, the outgoing Chief Justice of India who wished that scope of fundamental right to life should  be extended with a degree of caution. However, if the apex court sticks to its judgment and continues with the right to sleep, then interesting things are bound to happen in our social and day to day lives. I, for once will be too happy if Delhi police is asked to switch off its hooter bikes that they run only on night and which are capable of spurring into action even a half asleep thief or a ghost, not to talk of making sleeping persons jump in their bed. Indian airports will have to observe night curfew on line with Europe and U.S.A.  The watchman whose `Jaagte raho’ is more etched to my childhood memory than the fairy tales narrated by my mother will have to either go unemployed or will have to say ` Sote raaho’ to have some alibi. Divorce petitions will be more on the grounds of `snoring’ than on cruelty.  Government meetings will become a good venue to sleep for some babus without getting disturbed. Teachers disturbing the sleeping student during boring lectures will be considered as violators. Lawyers will have to shut themselves if adjudicators go to sleep during hearing. More than anything else we will see litigation right up to apex court to define where the right to sleep will be available and what will constitute reasonable restrictions in public interest, on the same. In brief, happy days for lawyers again.

Republic of chicken versus Banana republic: This one is motivated  by the story of Sh. K.D. Singh , the owner of Alchemist group who after making his company a strong 10,000 crore outfit in matter of 30 years has decided to leave his verticals like food processing, health care and management of his companies to his sons, not so late in life and to dedicate himself to public life. Since, the Singh is more famous for his ` Chicken republic’ brand, it is but natural that he should enter the political arena by contesting with `chicken’ as his election symbol to encash on his already existing brand in Punjab and in  North India. Once he enters in the fray, I can also start selling bananas in India under the brand name of `Banana republic’ and may be one day float a political outfit with election symbol of Banana and give Singh some political competition. While he may be able to garner all the non-veg votes, I can also think of further dividing Indian electorates  on the basis of  veg and non-veg and thus offer a new dimension to Indian electoral  politics which is already divided on the basis of caste,religion,class, ideology, ethnicity and what not. I can foresee that his party will dominate in North, while mine in South, East and West and may eventually give victory to my brand ` Banana republic’.