Srinagar: Intensifying their resistance to the Goods & Services Tax (GST), trade bodies have formed a joint forum with civil society groups called the J&K Coordination Committee (JKCC). The new forum has called for a separate legislation on GST instead of the law passed by the Indian Parliament in New Delhi.
Addressing their maiden press conference here, speakers of the JKCC said that the government is just “hoodwinking and befooling” Kashmiris.
“If GST is implemented in its present form, neither the state legislature nor the state cabinet will have any say in taxation matters. The central government can shoot down any proposal coming from state on tax rates and procedures or goods to be left out of GST,” said the convenor of JKCC, Siraj Ahmad.
Ahmad said that after implementation of GST, all the fiscal powers would go into the hands of the GST Council and J&K will have no veto power.
Rejecting the 101st Amendment of the Indian Constitution that was made by the Indian Parliament to bring in the GST, Mubeen Shah, a member of the committee, said that the extension of 46 amendments of the Indian Constitution to the state of J&K by deceitful means is no justification for extension of the 101st Amendment here.
“Instead of pursuing the revocation of the 46 amendments which every political party, including the National Conference, Peoples Democratic Party and others deceitfully extended to the state, the present dispensation is attempting to hoodwink the populace of J&K by putting forth false projection of real facts,” Shah said.
Warning the government against going ahead with GST implementation, Shah said that any model prepared with modifications to safeguard J&K’s autonomy should be put in the public domain for extensive discussion.
Retired High Court judge Hasnain Masoodi, who is part of the committee, said that there are no legal issues in modifying the law passed by New Delhi, provided the state is willing to do so.
“The state government has just to approach New Delhi and present its reservations regarding the said Act. The central government is bound to accept the request from the state. Unfortunately, the government here has no such intentions,” Masoodi said.
The government has again called a special assembly session beginning Tuesday to discuss the GST. The JKCC called for a sit-in protest outside the JK Assembly to put pressure on legislators who will be trying to reach a consensus on the controversial bill.
Appealing to the business community to follow the committee’s programmes, the JKCC asked owners of all business establishments to hoist black flags to tell the government their opposition to the GST.
On June 29, Muzaffar Hussein Beigh, who headed the All Party Consultative Group (APCG) formed to create a wide consensus on GST, told opposition parties in a meeting that any attempt to bring a new law to implement the GST in J&K will become a “huge issue” in India.
Replying to the demand of opposition parties for a separate law to implement GST in J&K, Beigh said, “If we talk of bringing a separate law, the Centre will have to amend two chapters in the Constitution, to delegate powers of taxation to the state of Jammu and Kashmir. It will become a huge political issue across the country. Besides, it will also entail amending Section 5 of the J&K Constitution, which can’t be done. More so, any attempt at fiddling with Section 5 will open a Pandora’s Box that will have huge political ramifications for J&K in the future.”