news Wednesday, September 17, 2014 - 05:30
Anisha Sheth | The News Minute | August 12, 2014 | 4 pm IST A lot of people in Bangalore are very unhappy with the transport department officials and also the state government. The reason? They allege that they are being harassed as they own vehicles registered in other states, and have set up Facebook groups to do something about it. One such group Justice for non KA Registration Vehicle Owners has 4,631 members, many of whom are very active in discussions and comments. Information is frequently exchanged throughout the day. Some of them have even approached the Supreme Court seeking relief from the Karnataka government's Motor Vehicles Taxation Act, which was amended in February. The amendment made it mandatory for owners of vehicles registered outside Karnataka to pay life time tax in a month's time instead of within a year, which is the case in most states.  Sandesh (name changed), originally from Kerala, says that the police have seized the RC card of his vehicle and also his wife’s access card issued by the software firm that she works for. He said that he has been working in Bangalore since June, but had only bought a car two months ago in Kerala. He drove the vehicle to Bangalore from Pune on August 17. He says that according to the law, he could pay the life time tax after the expiry of one month. However, the Regional Transport Office authorities in Bangalore stopped his vehicle, asking him to produce his documents. He says that he showed them all the original documents – RC card, drivers’ license, insurance documents, and pollution certificate – but when they found out that he had been working in Bangalore for three months, they asked him to pay tax. A member of the Justice for Non KA Registration Vehicle Owners, posted his experience on Facebook  “Even though I showed them the toll receipts and Pollution Control certificate issued in Kerala a few days before that, they demanded that I pay the tax,” Sandesh said. Finally, they seized his RC document and even his wife’s ID card issued by the company she works for. He said he could not let them take the vehicle because he and his wife were travelling with their one-and-half year old son. “I told them I have one month’s time to pay the tax, but they still took the documents. Now, I don’t know what to do, because I don’t have enough money to pay the life time tax,” Sandesh says, adding that it worked out to be roughly around Rs. 70,000. Waseem Memon, a health care professional, has also had a similar experience, except that it was also unusual. Describing himself as an avid “jeeper”, he said that the police had caught him for having an old jeep, and demanded an invoice. Watch a Malayalam news report “It’s a jeep of the World War II era. Where am I going to get an invoice for that, Buckingham Palace?” he asks. He said that owners of vehicles older than 15 years are generally asked to pay a green tax, as the vehicles are not environment-friendly.  Having to face such problems repeatedly, he decided to do something about it. That is when he found a Facebook group with members who had faced similar problems. Since then, he has actively been pursuing what he calls the “harassment” by the “Republic of Karnataka” towards owners of vehicles registered in other states.  He claims that the officials of the transport department flout the guidelines formulated by the union transport ministry, also its own rules. He says that according to rules formulated in February in this, owners of vehicles registered in other states had to pay a lifetime tax within a month. However, according to him and many others on the Facebook group __, the transport department officials stop people on roads and ask them to pay the tax. He says that the procedure is that owners are supposed furnish their drivers’ license, the RC card, insurance and pollution certificate when they are stopped, but it was against the rules to seize the vehicle. Asked about this, Joint Commissioner for Transport (Bangalore) Narendra Holkar told The News Minute that the department had “every right” to seize the vehicles. He said the department was acting according to the rules and that what they were doing was not actually seizing vehicles, but “more like a type of parking (arrangement)”.  He said that police seized vehicles when occupants failed to produced original documents. When people did not produce original documents, it was possible that the vehicles had been stolen.  Another problem that vehicle owners were facing, he said, was that when the RTO officials calculated the lifetime tax, they would calculate on the basis of the invoice of the purchase, which included VAT. He said that the RTO would add charge VAT in addition to the invoice amount. “How can I be taxed on tax?” Waseem asks. Holkar said that this was a problem the RTO was trying to solve. He said that the percentage of VAT charged on vehicles differed from statae to state and that it was only when it was found that Karnataka charged more VAT than the state where the vehicle was registered, the RTO charged the owner for the difference. “We are trying to convince (the CAG) that we don’t think this is right,” Holkar said, adding that until the matter was sorted out, the present practice would continue. Holkar said that people were “very happy” with the department and that because of the work of the squads that conducted periodic drives to collect lifetime tax by stopping vehicles on the road, many people had actually voluntarily turned up to pay tax. “We create public awareness when we stop vehicles and many people voluntarily come to us and pay the tax,” Holkar said.

Show us some love! Support our journalism by becoming a TNM Member - Click here.