Arbitrary’ Orders Not Right Way To Go: NC; Other Pol Parties Also Decry Move

Srinagar: Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti on Wednesday charged that the imposition of property tax in Jammu and Kashmir was part of the BJP’s larger agenda of impoverishing the people of the J&K.
“The real aim is to make people of Jammu and Kashmir so poor that they don’t demand anything. Look at the rest of the country, 80 crore people are getting free ration. They don’t ask for jobs or cheaper fuel. They just wait for the five kg grain so that they can feed their kids. They want to bring J-K also to the same level. This is part of a larger agenda to bury people of J-K,” she told reporters at the PDP office here.
People just have to refuse to pay the tax peacefully, she added.
The Jammu and Kashmir administration on Tuesday issued a notification for imposition of property tax in the union territory which will come into effect from the next financial year.
The PDP president said the economy and development indices of Jammu and Kashmir were better than some of the states in the country.
“They could not bring other states at par with J-K, now they are trying to bring us at par with other states,” he added.
The former chief minister said the BJP has been a “disaster” for Jammu and Kashmir.
“There are (natural calamities) earthquakes and floods. Just like that we have new orders every day, be it regarding jobs, demolition drive or now the property tax,” she said.
“How will the shopkeepers of Raghunath Bazaar in Jammu pay the tax when there is no business? In Srinagar and other towns of Kashmir, three to four families live in one house. They don’t have money to pay electricity bills and you are asking for property tax,” she added.
Responding to a question, Mehbooba said the people will have to resist if they want to get rid of these frequent orders rather than put burden on them.
“You have to resist to exist. Unless you resist, they will keep crushing you. People just have to refuse to pay the tax peacefully. We will not pay,” she said.
National Conference chief spokesperson Tanvir Sadiq said imposition of property tax in current circumstances was an “anti-people” move.
“These ‘arbitrary’ and ‘anti-people’ orders are not the right way to go ahead. Such decisions are best left to an elected government,” Sadiq said.
“The economic condition of the people of J-K is not good. Right from 2019, the condition has gone from bad to worse. Such a decision is to be taken by an elected government, not by bureaucrats. Elsewhere in the country, such taxes are to be passed by the general council of Municipal bodies. This tax has not been brought to the Municipality General Council,” he said.
Senior CPI(M) leader Mohamamd Yousuf Tarigami termed the levying of property tax as “arbitrary and undemocratic” and said the process of collecting taxes and deciding their values is the sole prerogative of an elected government.
The levying of property tax in the absence of an elected government is unconstitutional, he said, adding even the elected municipal bodies were not consulted before taking the decision.
Tarigami said the most objectionable part of the notification is the decision of deciding the values from the centre.
“These are the towns and cities to decide the values and not the centre, as mandated by the 74th Constitutional Amendment. The notification is ultra vires to the constitutional mandate. The locking period of three years is also arbitrary,” he said.
The CPI(M) leader demanded the immediate withdrawal of the notification.
The J-K administration ordering the imposition of property tax in municipal areas of Jammu and Kashmir will come into effect from April 1, 2023, with tax rates being five per cent of Taxable Annual Value (TAV) for residential properties and six per cent for commercial properties.
However, residential houses up to a built-up area of 1,000 square feet have been exempted from the purview of property tax while smaller assets have been taxed at very lower rates.

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