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Reconsider imposing property tax in J&K, leave decision for elected govt: Azad

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Srinagar: Democratic Progressive Azad Party chairman Ghulam Nabi Azad on Friday said the Jammu and Kashmir administration should reconsider its decision of imposing property tax in the Union Territory and leave such decisions for an elected government.

“I request the government to reconsider this issue and leave it for the elected government,” Azad told reporters at the party’s office in Sonwar here.

There have been no elections in Jammu and Kashmir for nine years and the people have been waiting for the conduct of elections for all this time so that such decisions are taken by an elected government, the former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister said.

“Unfortunately, the laws framed by the elected governments in the assemblies are being revoked. My government framed the Roshni Act. I did not frame it in my home.

“It was vetted by the Law department and the Cabinet, it was then discussed in the Assembly — it was a coalition government of many parties — and the opposition parties also voted for it and the law was enacted,” he said.

Once an Assembly or the Parliament frames a law, it cannot be revoked like this or by a Governor, Azad added.

He said the revocation of the Act affected about 70 percent of the people in Jammu as well as Kashmir, Hindus as well as Muslims.

Acknowledging that there could be loopholes in the scheme’s implementation, the former Union minister questioned which schemes in the country or the world could be implemented 100 percent in the right manner.

“It is not the Cabinet or the Assembly that implements it on the ground. There are many levels — right from the patwari to the secretary — and there can be some misuse. But there are commissions like Vigilance and courts to see whether there is anyone who has misused the scheme through corruption or something else.

“About 10 percent of the people will always misuse any scheme. Hang them but you cannot end the scheme for the 90 percent,” he added.

It is not the right of the current administration in Jammu and Kashmir to impose the property tax, Azad said.

“It is the right of an elected government. Governor’s rule — whether in the Congress or the BJP — is temporary and not permanent. There have to be elections and an elected government has to take such decisions,” he said.

However, he added, even if there was an elected government, including his party’s, it would be impossible to impose taxes in the current situation.

“I will also think 10 times about imposing taxes even as I need taxes for development. The state of Jammu and Kashmir has been bearing militancy for the last 33 years. It has cost many lives, unemployment has risen and is more than 10 times higher than in the rest of the country,” he said.

The former Congress leader said the government should not feel bad and rollback the decision to impose property tax.

“Even if there is any other government in place, it should not consider imposing this tax for five to six years. Ultimately, the people have to pay this tax. But first, the government should make the people (be) able to pay tax. There is no developmental work going on, our economic situation is worse… Let our tourism, horticulture, handicraft (sectors) get stabilised first,” he said.

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