Supreme Court fixes hearing in Ram Mandir-Babri Masjid land dispute case for January 29
• The Supreme Court of India on January 10, 2019 fixed the hearing in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land title dispute case for January 29, 2019.
• The Constitution Bench hearing the case is to be reconstituted after Justice UU Lalit recused himself from the case, following question on his inclusion in the five judge bench.
• Senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, appearing for a Muslim party, told the bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi that Justice Lalit appeared in the case of former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Kalyan Singh in 1994, who is known for his role in the Babri Masjid demolition. .
• Though Dhavan said he was not seeking Justice Lalit's recusal, the judge opted out of the hearing in the matter. Other members of the bench comprised Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices SA Bobde, NV Ramana, and DY Chandrachud.
• The CJI said, in view of the facts and circumstances of the matter and the voluminous records pertaining to it, this was a fit case for constituting a five-judge bench.
GST exemption limit for MSMEs doubled
• In a major relief to micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), the GST Council chaired by finance minister Arun Jaitley on January 10, 2019 doubled the GST exemption limit for companies in the sector to those with an annual turnover of Rs 40 lakh from the current Rs 20 lakh. For North East and hilly states, the limit has been increased to Rs 20 lakh from Rs 10 lakh.
• The move to raise the threshold for GST registration is significant considering that small businesses have been hit by the government’s move to demonetise high-value currency notes in November 2016, business disruption in the early days of GST implementation and a credit squeeze in recent months.
• Bringing about major changes in the composition scheme, the current turnover limit was increased to Rs 1.5 crore from Rs 1 crore.
• Service providers with a turnover of up to Rs 50 lakh can now avail the composition scheme as well at a rate of 6 per cent. Those who avail the scheme will have to file tax on a quarterly basis, though returns can be filed annually.
• The Council also allowed Kerala to levy a calamity cess of 1 per cent on intra-state sales for a maximum period of two years.
Saudi Arabia to cut its oil exports in January by 10 per cent
• OPEC kingpin Saudi Arabia announced on January 10, 2019 that it has decided to slash its oil exports in January by 10 per cent in comparison to November.
• Saudi energy minister Khalid al-Falih said the kingdom, the world's top crude supplier, would cut its exports to 7.2 million barrels per day (bpd) in January, down from 8.0 million bpd in November. He also announced a further 100,000 bpd cut in February.
• In a press conference held in Riyadh, the energy ministry also announced that the kingdom's vast oil reserves are even bigger than previously thought. The ministry said that proven oil reserves stood at 263.2 billion barrels at the end of 2018, up from the figure of 261 billion barrels that has been used for almost three decades.
• OPEC and its allies had decided last month to cut their overall output by 1.2 million bpd starting in January, to boost prices hit by a supply glut and fears demand could plummet.
ICC offers amnesty for Sri Lankan cricketers to report match-fixing approaches
• The International Cricket Council (ICC) announced on January 10, 2019 that it would be giving a 15-day amnesty to participants who have previously failed to report any information concerning corrupt conduct in Sri Lankan cricket.
• The amnesty, which will run from 16-31 January, will apply to all participants under both the ICC and Sri Lankan Cricket Anti-Corruption codes.
• Under these codes, both domestic and international participants are obliged to report, without delay, full details of any approaches, incident or information that they receive to engage in corrupt conduct. Failure to do so is a serious offence and can result in a ban from cricket of up to five years.
• This is the first time the ICC has held an amnesty to face very specific challenges in Sri Lanka.
Spain: Right wing coalition is set to rule Andalusia
• In Spain, a right wing coalition is set to rule country's most populous region, Andalusia. The conservative Popular Party will rule the region along with the centre-right Citizens Party.
• Vox, an anti-immigrant party which won seats in Andalusia last year, will not be part of the new government, but has agreed to support the coalition. This ends 37 years of Socialist rule in Andalusia.
• Andalusia is the main arrival point in Spain for migrants crossing the Mediterranean. The Popular Party and Citizens Party advocate implementing existing laws on immigration. However, they do not support mass deportations, as advocated earlier by Vox.
Congo Presidential Elections: Opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi wins
• In Congo, the electoral commission announced on January 10, 2019 that opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi has won the long-delayed presidential elections with 38.57 percent of more than 18 million ballots cast.
• Martin Fayulu, another opposition candidate, has rejected the outcome of the December 30 poll, calling it an electoral coup.
• If Tshisekedi’s victory is confirmed by the constitutional court, Democratic Republic of Congo will see its first peaceful democratic transfer of power since it gained independence from Belgium in 1960.