Himachal High Court pulls up transport officers over mounting road tax arrears

Shimla:   Pulling up the transport department over laxity in collecting road taxes and permitting vehicles to ply without valid documentation, the High Court directed the police chief and transport director to place before the court in 6 weeks a list of all tax evaders and other offenders.

In a petition by one Ram Pratap from Solan, the first bench of the court consisting of Chief Justice Kurian Joseph and Justice Dharam Chand Chaudhary directed Director General Police (DGP) and director transport that after undertaking intensive checking to present the factual position before the court about vehicles particularly trucks, taxis and private vehicles plying on HP roads either without paying taxes or moving about without valid permits or any insurance cover.

The bench expressed shock on the transport authority’s disclosure that more than Rs 10.85 crores was pending by way of tax arrears.

“The arrears could not have mounted to such amount if the recovery was made by authorities regularly,” the judges observed.

In response to an earlier order, the director transport let the court know that officers found negligent in collection of taxes would not be paid for the month salary.

The court asked the transport authorities to clarify as to what action had been taken to recover taxes to the tune of Rs 8.85 crores from the off-road buses and another Rs 2 Cr from other vehicles.

The judges directed to give time bound direction for impounding those vehicles that were not paying taxes and steps be taken for recover the dues.

Ram Pratap a bus operator from Solan whose bus was impounded for not paying taxes on time had approached the court alleging that action was taken against his vehicle only by Road Traffic Officer (RTO), Solan in connivance with other bus operators after he had complained about violation of time table by them even as they continued to ply their vehicles with impunity without paying any taxes.

The bench directed the transport authorities to permit the petitioner to operate his vehicle in case he deposited Rs 50,000 within a week and there remaining balance in three installments.

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As Editor, Ravinder Makhaik leads a team of media professionals at Hill Post. Spanning a career of over two decades in mass communication, as a Documentary Filmmaker, TV journalist, Print Media journalist and with Online & Social Media, he brings with him a vast experience. He lives in Shimla.

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