I-T exemption to MLAs challenged - Mandi Gobindgarh News

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Saturday, November 30, 2019

I-T exemption to MLAs challenged

I-T exemption to MLAs challenged

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 29

The State of Punjab is not in a position to pay salaries of its employees, while the MLAs are exempted from payment of income tax on their salaries and allowances, advocate Hari Chand Arora told Punjab and Haryana High Court during the hearing of a petition filed in public interest by him.

Referring to “information conveyed” to the media by the office of the Punjab Chief Minister, Arora submitted the annual burden of total income tax payable on the salaries of MLAs was Rs 10.72 core. Arora has challenged the exemption granted to Punjab MLAs from I-T payment on their salaries and allowances.

Appearing before the Bench of Justice Rajiv Sharma and Justice Harinder Singh Sidhu, Arora stated as per a letter written by Finance Minister Manpreet Singh to Chief Minister, the state was facing a financial crunch. It was not in a position even to pay salaries to its employees.

On the other hand under Section 3-AA of the Punjab Legislative Assembly (Salaries and allowances of Members) Amendment Act, 2004, made it clear that “salaries and allowances payable to the members under the Act, shall be exclusive of the income tax, payable in respect thereof under any law relating to income tax for the time being in force, and such tax shall be paid by the state.”

He added ministers and deputy ministers were earlier exempted from the requirement of paying income tax on their salaries and allowances. But the provision for giving them such exemption was withdrawn in April last year through appropriate amendments in relevant legislations. As such, the continuation of such exemption to MLAs beyond April, 2018, was totally arbitrary and unjustified. “The provisions of Section 3-AA, therefore, are liable to be quashed,” Arora added.

Responding to a pointed query by the Bench on how was he aggrieved from exemption granted to MLAs, Arora stated: “Every taxpayer is aggrieved. I am myself highly aggrieved, as I am annually paying income tax… the taxpayers are paying income tax through their nose.”

The Bench has adjourned the hearing to December 5 for enabling the petitioner to argue on the issue of Assembly’s competence to enact a law for granting exemption to MLAs from requirement to pay income tax.

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