Now, CM, Ministers will have to pay income tax from own pockets
Legislators’ pension capped at Rs 75,000 per month
JAMMU, Apr 1: The former Chief Ministers of the erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir are no more entitled for the special perks and facilities, which they were enjoying during the past several years. Moreover, in future the Chief Minister and all the Ministers will have to pay the income tax from their own pockets as privilege of reimbursement from the Government exchequer has also been withdrawn.
This has been clearly defined in the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization (Adaptation of State Laws) Order, 2020 issued by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs and published in the Gazette of India. The order has been issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs in exercise of the powers conferred by Section 96 of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act, 2019.
By way of this order, the Ministry of Home Affairs has amended the Jammu and Kashmir State Legislature Members’ Pension Act, 1984 and Jammu and Kashmir Ministers and Ministers of State Salaries Act, 1956. Moreover, Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Council Chairman’s Emoluments Act, 1962 and Jammu and Kashmir Ministers and Presiding Officers Medical Facilities Act, 1975 have been repealed as a whole.
As per Section 3-C of Jammu and Kashmir State Legislature Members Pension Act, 1984, the former Chief Ministers of erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir were also entitled to car with 250 litres of petrol per mensem, medical facilities, driver, furnished residence, Rs 35,000 per annum for furnishing of residential accommodation, telephone with free calls up to the value of Rs 48,000 per annum, free electricity to the extent of Rs 1500 per month and staff.
However, this Section has completely been omitted by the Ministry of Home Affairs from the Jammu and Kashmir State Legislature Members Pension Act which means that all the former Chief Ministers of erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir namely Farooq Abdullah, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti are no more entitled for all these special facilities.
The MHA has also amended Sub-Section 1-A of Section 3 of Jammu and Kashmir State Legislature Members Pension Act, 1984. With this amendment, the total pension to the members of the Legislature shall not exceed Rs 75,000 per mensem.
From time to time, the Governments of erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir carried out amendments in this Act to enhance the pension of the members of the Legislature but now the pension has been capped and cannot go beyond Rs 75,000 per mensem.
Similarly, the MHA has amended Jammu and Kashmir Ministers and Ministers of State Salaries Act, 1956 whereby words “exclusive of tax on income leviable under the Income Tax Act, 1961” under Clause-A of Sub-Section 1 of Section 3 have been completely omitted.
With this, in future the Chief Minister, Cabinet Ministers and Ministers of State will have to pay income tax leviable on their salaries from their own pockets and there will not be any financial burden on the exchequer of the Government.
Under Clause-A of the Sub-Section 1 of Section 3, the Ministers including the Chief Minister and Minister of State were enjoying a major privilege. “If a Minister is not an income tax payer but by adding the salary of his income, has become liable to pay the tax, the whole amount of tax shall be reimbursed and paid by the Government”, the un-amended Clause-A read.
It is pertinent to mention here that Law Commission of Jammu and Kashmir headed by Justice (retd) M K Hanjura in the month of September last year had recommended deletion of Section 3 of the Jammu and Kashmir Ministers’ and Ministers of State Salaries Act, 1956 in order to make it compulsory for the public functionaries to pay income tax like the officials working in the hierarchy of the administration in Jammu and Kashmir.
“This appears to be a sui-generis case where the makers of the law have carved out a space for themselves for providing that the income tax that they have to bear or pay shall be paid by the State exchequer”, Justice Hanjura had observed in the 6th report, adding “Section 3 of the Act is a typical example of how fences swallow the crops and it sounds a death knell to the concept of equality as propounded and enshrined by and under the equality clause incorporated in the Constitution of India”.
The Ministry of Home Affairs has also repealed as a whole the Jammu and Kashmir Ministers and Presiding Officers Medical Facilities Act, 1975 under which free medical care was being provided to the Ministers.
With this development the medical facilities which were being availed by the Ministers and Presiding Officers have become a thing of past.
As Legislative Council of Jammu and Kashmir has already been abolished as per the provisions of Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act, 2019 passed by the Parliament, the Ministry of Home Affairs has also repealed J&K Legislative Council Chairman’s Emoluments Act, 1962.
Under this Act, the Chairman of the Legislative Council of erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir was entitled to a salary exclusive of tax on income leviable under the Income Tax Act, 1961.