Jammu and Kashmir joined the Goods and Services Tax regime after the Assembly on Friday passed a bill on State-GST amid boycott by the Opposition.
'The Jammu & Kashmir Goods and Services Tax Bill- 2017', moved by finance minister Haseeb Drabu, was adopted in the House by a voice-vote after the Presidential Order, which ensures protection to J&K's special position and Section 5 of its Constitution, was notified by the Government of India late on Thursday night to facilitate implementation of the new tax regime in the state.
"There was no tradition of tabling a Presidential Order in the Assembly but the PDP-BJP government is starting a new one by tabling this order," Drabu said while assuring the House that the Order was in line with the GST resolution passed by the Assembly that had called for protection of state's special status.
The Bill was adopted in absence of opposition parties which accused the government of "undermining" the state's special status.
Drabu said the GST regime would now roll out in the state at midnight tonight, making J&K the last state to join the new tax regime.
"The Assembly recommended to the government to extend GST to the state in a modified form to protect the state's existing special position and legislative powers. The Presidential Order is in line with the resolution," he said.
Reading out the contents of the Order, Drabu said the powers of Jammu and Kashmir under Section 5 of the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir, shall remain intact.
"Notwithstanding anything contained in this order, the powers of the state of Jammu and Kashmir as per Section 5 of the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir shall remain intact," the Order reads.
The finance minister said enough safeguards have been incorporated in the Presidential Order for protection of J&K's Constitution. "There was a hue and cry within and outside the Assembly that Constitution of J&K and its Section 5 are being eroded. We have incorporated safeguards for it in the preamble of the Presidential order," he said.
According to the order, the J&K legislature shall have exclusive powers to make laws in respect of imposition of any taxes enabled by Section 5 of the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir.
The minister said the Presidential Order safeguards the special position of the state and the GST can no way override the Article 370.
The Presidential order states: "Notwithstanding anything contained in clause 4 to clause 11 for the purpose of any decision impinging on constitutional provisions relating to the state of Jammu and Kashmir, the concurrence of the representative of the state of Jammu and Kashmir in the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council shall be mandatory and the procedure provided under Article 370 shall be followed."
It also reads that "nothing in this Article (279A) shall affect in any manner whatsoever the legislative competence of state of J&K as guaranteed by virtue of Section 5 of the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir."
The clause 19 of the Presidential Order states that "notwithstanding anything in this Act, any provision of any law relating to tax on goods and services or on both in force in the State of Jammu and Kashmir immediately before commencement of this Act, which is inconsistent with the provisions as applicable to the State of Jammu and Kashmir, shall continue to be in force until amended or repealed by the Legislature of Jammu and Kashmir or until expiration of one year from the commencement of this Constitutional Application Order, whichever is earlier."
Drabu said the financial and administrative safeguards as promised by the Government in the GST regime would come in due course of time.
He expressed gratitude to President Pranab Mukherjee, Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, Union Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley, Union Home Minister, Rajnath Singh and Union Law Minister, Ravi Shanker Prasad for "honoring the resolution and working out the Presidential Order in line with what has been recommended the House."
Earlier, as soon as the proceedings began, CPI(M) MLA Muhammad Yousuf Tarigami accused the government of violating sanctity of the House by bringing the bill without informing the House about the Presidential Order passed for extending the GST regime to the state. The GST-Bill was later also cleared by the Legislative Council.
In the Assembly on Friday, the entire opposition boycotted the proceedings over GST.
Senior Congress legislator Nawang Rigzin Jora also targeted the government for "undermining" the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir. "The Government is resorting to subterfuge to undermine the special constitutional position of Jammu and Kashmir," he said.
Soon, Jora along with all Congress lawmakers staged a walkout from the House.
Tarigami and PDF chairman Hakim Muhammad Yasin also staged a walkout followed by MLA Langate Abdul Rashid Sheikh.
Governor accords assent to the Jammu and Kashmir Goods and Service Tax (GST) Act, 2017
GOVERNOR ACCORDS ASSENT
MEANWHILE, Governor NN Vohra on Friday accorded assent, under Section 78 of the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir, to the Jammu and Kashmir Goods and Service Tax Act 2017 after the Bill had been passed by both the Houses of the State Legislature.
"This Bill was enacted after issue of the Presidential Order which extended the application of certain Provisions of the Constitution of India, in a modified form, through an Order of the President of India issued on 6th July 2017. With the Governor's assent and the enactment of the Statute, the GST frame work has become applicable to the J&K State. This Act provides for the levy and collection of tax on intra- State supply of Goods and Services by the State of Jammu and Kashmir," an official spokesman said.