Shimla, March 28
The Himachal Pradesh High Court today issued a notice to the state government on a petition seeking to restrain it from paying income tax on behalf of ministers and MLAs.
Only six states bear the burden
Just about six states are bearing the burden of income tax of MLAs and ministers. These are MP, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Punjab and Himachal Pradesh
A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Mohammad Rafiq and Justice Jyotsna Rewal Dua has sought response from the state.
The court passed the order on a petition filed by four persons, which says as per Section 6 AA of the HP Legislative Assembly (Allowances & Pension of Members) Act, the salary and compensatory, constituency, secretarial, postal facilities and telephone allowances payable to a member and other perquisites admissible under the Act will be exclusive of the income tax, which will be payable by the government.
It is claimed income tax to the tune of Rs 1,11,87,863 was paid by the state on behalf of ministers and MLAs in 2017-18, Rs 1,79,30,873 in 2018-19 and Rs 1,78,12,311 in 2019-20. The petition claims as per a report, the state had a total loan of Rs 54,299 crore in 2018-19. The petitioners contend shifting the liability of the payment of income tax of ministers and MLAs on the government and consequently on the people’s money is “unconstitutional”.
Challenging the said provision of the Act, they contend the legislation with respect to the fixation and payment of the income tax comes within the domain of Parliament and state has no legislative competence to assume the responsibility. The Income Tax Act mandates the payment of tax by assesses themselves. Hence, the income tax is required to be paid by the MLAs and ministers concerned out of their own income.
The petitioners further claim only six states have been bearing this burden. These are Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Punjab and Himachal Pradesh. In the rest of the states, the legislators pay their own income tax, they claim, urging the court to quash the said provision.