The vexed Local Body Tax (LBT), since its enforcement from April 1, 2013, continues to be a revenue killer for NMC in one way or the other. From day one, the LBT is denting NMC’s coffers. It is taxing the revenue recovery rather a hefty turnover. However, for employees of the civic body, the LBT is proving a game to hunt bounty by finding loopholes. And now, police too have joined the game to have their share. Both hunters are taking the bounty in the name of renewal of license of registered arms holders. The dubious fact came to the fore through an RTI query.
It may be recalled, the earlier system practiced by Nagpur police for renewal of license of registered arms holders was based on Octroi Duty remittance receipt purportedly submitted by the arms holders. But after the enforcement of LBT (in place of Octroi Duty), police embarked on renewing the arms licenses in large scale without the Octroi Duty receipt. Factually, LBT is replacement of Octroi Duty and the Nagpur police were expected to ask LBT receipt from registered arms holders before renewing their licenses. But, it appears, police thought it otherwise obviously for their convenience. Moreover, the studied silence by NMC over the issue is more perplexing than simplifying. One aspect is certain: Both police and NMC are indulging in illegal acts.
The reputed RTI activist Sandeep Agrawal had on 18.10.2011 shot a letter to Municipal Commissioner and subsequently had drawn his attention toward Octroi Duty evasion in massive proportions by way of renewal of arms licenses. Agrawal had even submitted a list of city’s 2461 registered arms holders, their names, addresses, license numbers and other important information. The Municipal Commissioner, after receiving Agrawal’s letter, had directed the then Deputy Commissioner of Octroi to take action against the guilty. In turn, the Octroi Department issued notices to 1896 registered arms holders and recovered 10 fold Octroi Duty, amounting to Rs 8-9 lakh from 260 privileged persons.
Agrawal had suggested NMC Commissioner to include police department in the drive that would help proper recovery with penalty. Thereafter, the NMC Commissioner had on 17.9.2012 written a letter to Police Commissioner and thereby requested the police department not to renew licenses of registered arms holders without checking Octroi Duty receipts. Proper checking of receipts will help in recovery of Octroi Duty, the letter said.
The Office of Police Commissioner, subsequently on 26.2.2013 replied to the NMC Commissioner’s letter and stated that police, 2013 onwards, are renewing licenses of registered arms holders only after checking Octroi Duty receipts.
However, Agrawal said, since enforcement of LBT from April 1, 2013 in Nagpur, neither Octroi Department nor Police Department is showing any interest in recovering penalties from the said arms holders who continue to evade Octroi Duty at the time of renewal of licenses. This lackadaisical attitude is invariably creating holes in NMC as well as State revenue, said Agrawal.
However, renewal of licenses of registered arms holders is going on without Octroi Duty receipts, obviously with underhand deals. The question the RTI activist has raised: Is Administration, by exempting Octroi Duty to registered arms holders after LBT enforcement, not hitting the NMC revenue hard?