Payment of CM, Ministers’ income tax from State exchequer
*Bring them at par with common man, Govt servants
JAMMU, Sept 21: Dubbing some provisions of the Jammu and Kashmir Ministers’ and Ministers of State Salaries Act, 1956 as glaring instance of unchecked inequality, the State Law Commission has recommended deletion of relevant section of the law in order to make it compulsory for the public functionaries to pay income tax like the officials working in the hierarchy of the State.
As per the Section 3 of the Jammu and Kashmir Ministers’ and Ministers of State Salaries Act, Chief Minister, each Minister and each Minister of State is entitled to a salary of Rs 70,000, Rs 65,000 and Rs 60,000 respectively exclusive of tax on income leviable under the Income Tax Act, 1961.
“The tax, if any, assessed and levied on the said income under the Income Tax Act shall be reimbursed and paid by the Government in the manner specified under this law”, read Section 3(1-A) of the Jammu and Kashmir Ministers’ and Ministers of State Salaries Act.
Moreover, each Minister and each Minister of State is entitled to free furnished house, the maintenance charges of which shall be borne by the State Government. They are also entitled to the use of State car, the expenses on the maintenance and propulsion of which shall be borne by the State Government, the Act further states.
State Law Commission Chairperson Justice (retd) M K Hanjura recently examined the Jammu and Kashmir Ministers’ and Ministers of State Salaries Act and found Section 3 as glaring instance of unchecked inequality. “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 has observed in the 6th report submitted to the Government few days back.
The report says, “This is a typical example of how fences swallow the crops. 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. It shows how those in power demand a pound of flesh for them thereby leaving others in a lurch. It sounds propitious to see that the income a constable, a peon, a clerk or an official working in the different rungs of the hierarchy of the State is made taxable while as those governing the State are exempted from its purview and this expenditure of theirs is borne by the Government”.
“The provision for creating such immunity as postulated by and under the provisions of the Act doesn’t keep pace with the scheme of the Constitution. Every action/decision of the State or its agencies/instrumentalities to confer benefits upon the selected few must have semblance of fairness attached to it and it should have its origin and base in a sound and well defined policy which has to be made known to the public”, Justice Hanjura has further mentioned in the report.
Stating that the base line of the doctrine of the quality is that the State has to take recourse to the element of fairness, Justice Hanjura said that Section 3 of the Act is a typical example of Goddess being blind folded so that she cannot see what the makers of the law do.
With these observations, the State Law Commission has recommended that the Section 3 of the Jammu and Kashmir Ministers’ and Ministers of State Salaries Act be deleted as the same violates the concept of equality.
“It is highly unjustified that despite getting so many privileges the successive Chief Ministers and Ministers never tried to remove this clause from the Jammu and Kashmir Ministers’ and Ministers of State Salaries Act”, official sources said, adding “if the Governor’s Administration wants to ensure equality the report of the State Law Commission should be accepted as early as possible and Section 3 is deleted”.