The State government continued to face opposition over the implementation of the goods and service tax (GST) in the all party meeting which was held today.
Former Deputy Chief Minister and senior PDP leader, Muzafar Hussain Beigh, chaired the meeting. The opposition came a day after government on Wednesday said that it will protect the special status of the state and will have a separate GST that will not erode the fiscal and constitutional position of Jammu and Kashmir. Minister for Finance, Dr Haseeb A Drabu said that under the new tax regime the special position and Article 370 will not be eroded.
Earlier Congress had met the Governor N N Vohra and apprised him about the stand of the party on extension of central Goods and Services Tax (GST) to the state. Five senior Congress leaders led by legislator G N Monga informed Vohra that GST is a sensitive issue and the view points of all the political parties need to be kept in consideration and discussed before going ahead with its extension to the state. NC and Congress have opposed its extension in the present form to the state contending that this will erode the special status of the state.
In the note which was submitted by CPI (M) leader, M Y Tarigmai, he said that there is a defined relationship in the Constitution of India regarding distribution of legislative, financial and other powers between the Union and the States including the power to impose tax.
“As regarding sale of goods is concerned, the state of Jammu and Kashmir, like any other state, is imposing tax on intra-state sale of goods by various laws like the Jammu and Kashmir General Sales Tax Act, the Jammu and Kashmir Value Added Tax etc. But the position of state is different from any other state of the Union so far as imposition of tax on services is concerned. In other States, the tax on services is being imposed by the Central Law namely the Services Tax Act but said Act is not applicable to the State of Jammu and Kashmir, as such tax on services is being imposed by the State Government under the provisions of the Jammu and Kashmir General Sales Tax Act by virtue of section 5 of the State Constitution. In case, the Constitutional Amendment 101 is applied to the State of Jammu and Kashmir, the State Government would surrender its powers to impose and collect services tax to the Union.’’
During the meeting it was only noted that extending the constitutional amendment 101 to the state would set a bad precedent as after 1975 only 2 constitutional amendments have been extended to the state.
“Applicability of this Constitutional Amendment has wide legal and political ramifications. In past also a conscious decision has been taken for not extending Constitutional Amendments to the State of Jammu and Kashmir. Two important Constitutional Amendments i.e seventy third amendment and Seventy Fourth Amendment in the Constitution regarding Local Bodies and Panchayati Raj Institutions have not been made applicable to the State in-spite there being a consistent demand from various sections to extend these Constitutional Amendments which aims at empowerment of these institutions of local self governance. State Government has taken a stand before Legislative Assembly that the spirit of these Amendments have been carried out in relevant statutes of the State, as such, there is no need to extend these Amendments to the State of J&K,’’ Tarigami noted in the meeting.
The meeting was further informed, “After 1975, only two Constitutional Amendment Acts, that is, 52nd Constitutional Amendment Act, 1985 and 61st Constitutional Amendment Act, 1988 have been partially made applicable to the State of Jammu and Kashmir. These two Constitutional Amendment Acts had been made applicable only because 52nd Amendment Act related to anti-defection law with regard to members of Parliament and 61st Constitutional Amendment Act related to lowering of voting age from 21 to 18 years in case of Parliament elections. There seems to be a consistent policy of the State Government for not extending Constitutional Amendments to the State. After that almost fifty amendments have been made in the Constitution of India and not a single amendment has been made applicable to the State. Time and again, there is a debate and concerns expressed by various sections of the society that by extending Constitutional Amendments to the State of Jammu and Kashmir, the autonomy of the State has been eroded and the powers of the State have been surrendered to Union. Government should find answers in the laws enacted or to be enacted by the State Legislature rather than extending Constitutional Amendment to the State.’’
Former Minister and Democratic Party Nationalist President, Ghulam Hassan Mir, told Kashmir Vision that consensus was not reached at the meeting. He said that government was informed that extra measures must be taken to safeguard the fiscal and constitutional autonomy of the state.