news Monday, February 16, 2015 - 05:30
The News Minute | February 13, 2015 | 6.50 pm  The Bengaluru transport department may have been collecting taxes from vehicles registered outside the state but plying in Karnataka in violation of a High Court order. IT professional Sankararamanan Narayanan was returning from the passport office in Koramangala when his car was stopped by the police. He was asked by the transport department to pay the life time tax as his vehicle was registered in Chennai. Narayanan, who has been living in Benglauru for the last 10 years, told The News Minute: “I was with my family and they (transport department) seized my documents and told me to come the next day and collect them after paying the tax.” He said that he was driving his brother’s car which he had borrowed for a few days. “I had gone to Chennai to visit my brother and parents for Diwali and since I did not get a train or bus ticket to return, I took his car to return.” He says his brother too is a regular visitor to Bengaluru so returning the vehicle to him is not a problem. Under the Central Motor Vehicles Act, vehicles registered in one state are supposed to pay a life time tax when their owners shift to a state not their domicile. Waseem Memon, who has been fighting against alleged harassment by the transport department, says that recognizing the financial difficulties that such people face when they shift from one state to another for work purposes, the law permits them 11 months lead time to pay the tax. However, in February 2014, the Karnataka government passed the Karnataka Motor Vehicles Tax Amendment Act and reduced the time to 30 days to pay the tax. Narayanan says that he had paid Rs 32,000 as tax for the vehicle, and an additional Rs 3,500 in fines to retrieve the documents. “I was unaware that the tax had been collected in violation of a stay order issued by the High Court.” He said that he became aware of the stay order on the motor vehicles tax amendment act only when he was discussing the issue with a friend. “My friend was shifting here from Chennai where his vehicle is registered and I told him not to do it because the police harass people here. Then we started to look for information and we got in touch with Waseem and the group, and found out about the order a week ago.” Memon says that he heard of the High Court stay order through a friend and asked some friends of his to find out if indeed there was such a stay order. “My friends then told me that in an unrelated case, a man from Nellore had filed a case with the High Court challenging the amendment and on November 5, the High Court had ordered the police to return the vehicle that he had seized. The court also stayed the implementation of the amendment until December 31.” He alleged that in such a scenario, transport department officials had been collecting tax and fines from people in contempt of the High Court order. “We are now trying to locate more people who have been asked to pay fines and will approach the High Court when we have found around 10 people,” Memon said. Transport Commissioner Rame Gowda said that the department had not been collecting tax during the period that the High Court had granted a stay. When told that there was more than one instance of such tax collection, he said: “It could have been done at the regional level, we don’t always know (if they are doing something like this)” When asked if information like this was not communicated to the regional offices, he said: “No, we had told them. If there are cases, we will look into it.” Tweet Follow @thenewsminute
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