Amid protests, Govt passes GST resolution in Assembly

Amid protests by Opposition parties, the Assembly on Wednesday adopted a resolution on implementation of Goods and Services Tax regime in the state following which the Cabinet gave its concurrence for extension of Constitution (101st) Amendment Act to the State.
Amid protests, Govt passes GST resolution in Assembly
Photo: Mubashir Khan/GK

Amid protests by Opposition parties, the Assembly on Wednesday adopted a resolution on implementation of Goods and Services Tax regime in the state following which the Cabinet gave its concurrence for extension of Constitution (101st) Amendment Act to the State. 

The resolution, moved in the House on Tuesday by finance minister Haseeb Drabu, was passed by a voice-vote with PDP, BJP and PC lawmakers supporting it while the opposition National Conference, Congress and other legislators including MY Tarigami and Abdul Rashid Sheikh opposing it.

The opposition protested against the government for not specifying the constitutional safeguards ensured on protecting the state's special position while extending GST to J&K.

The resolution was passed as the ruling combine has 58 MLAs against opposition's 29 lawmakers.

A similar resolution was also adopted in the Upper House where the PDP-BJP also enjoys a majority.

The resolution was passed at a time when opposition parties, separatists and Kashmiri businessmen were opposing the GST regime, saying it infringes on J&K's residual political autonomy and its special powers to legislate on financial matters.

Earlier speaking in the House, Drabu said the resolution calls upon the Government of India to implement the GST in the state while incorporating safeguards for protecting its special status and exclusive taxation powers.

"We will appeal, argue, debate and discuss with the Government of India, as a matter of principle. Section 5 of the J&K Constitution which gives us exclusive powers of taxation shall be protected," he said.

He said the GST Council will not be a way to subvert the process and enough safeguards will be built.

In follow-up to the Assembly resolution, an emergency meeting of the state cabinet was held at 6 pm under the chairmanship of chief minister Mehbooba Mufti. The cabinet is the competent authority to give concurrence for application of any part of the Constitution of India to J&K.

Sources told Greater Kashmir that the cabinet, in its 45-minute meeting, recommended extension of Constitution (101st) Amendment Act, with two modifications, to J&K.

The modifications proposed by the state seek that the legislative power of the State under Section (5) of J&K Constitution shall remain intact.

"Notwithstanding in the amendment applied by the constitutional application order, the legislative powers of the state with respect to taxation under section (5) of J&K Constitution shall not be affected," the modifications read. 

The government has also recommended that "no decision regarding special status enjoyed by the state of J&K shall be taken by the GST Council unless consented to by the representatives of the state government and as per provisions of the Article 370."

Sources told Greater Kashmir that after the cabinet approval, Governor NN Vohra also conveyed concurrence of the state government to the Government of India for issuance of a Presidential order under Article 370, for GST implementation in the State.

"Finance secretary Navin Choudhary went to Raj Bhavan late in the evening and got the Governor's concurrence on behalf of the state government for extension of the 101st Amendment Act to the State," they said.

Sources said the concurrence of the state government was communicated to the Union Home Ministry late in the night for the President of India's approval.

"The Presidential order is likely to be issued tomorrow to pave a way for the extension of 101st Amendment Act to the State," they said.

This is after a hiatus of 29 years that any government of J&K has approved extending amendment made in the Constitution of India to J&K.

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