The government of J&K issued a circular asking all vehicle owners who have purchased their vehicles bearing outside Registration Mark have to apply for a new Registration Mark as per the provisions of section 47/50 of Motor Vehicles Act 1988. The concerned were asked to submit the relevant documents of their vehicles to RTO, ARTO office within a period of 15-days failing which action, as warranted, shall be initiated against them. Subsequently a huge rush of people was witnessed at the RTO office Srinagar with the officials stating that it is a normal procedure.
RTO Kashmir Akram Ullah Tak said that the directives have come as per the Motor Vehicles Act and that there is nothing new in it. He also said that no order was issued in this regard.
“There is no new order, it is already in the laws that if a person has to take his/her vehicle to any other place and has to keep it there for more than 6 months, then, we issue a NOC to that vehicle, and gets it registered there. And the same applies to the vehicles that have been bought to the UT of J&K,” he said.
He said that there are reasons for it as the vehicles bought outside are registered on some other person and someone else is driving it. “It creates problems when there are accidents and other issues; there are no clear cut details available to police at that time,” he said.
RTO also said that they were not able to collect token tax from the vehicles that are bought from outside while the local vehicles are charged 9 per cent token tax.
He said that only those vehicles are being seized which do not have a valid NOC. “There is already a time limit of 6 months during which the person has to register. Only those vehicles are being seized that do not have the NOCs,” he said.
Tak said that there is no need to panic, “if you have got NOC, we will get you registered within 15 days,” he said.
Notably, earlier, Police had appealed to the general public to go for the re-registration process of the vehicles purchased from outside J&K with local ARTO immediately failing which shall result in the seizure of the vehicle.
The dealers said that the RTO has not issued any order in this regard and that he has told them that he will write to the police in this regard. They also said that the move was an injustice to them as no such rule is being implemented anywhere in the country.
Kashmir Trade Alliance (KTA) President Ajaz Shahdhar termed the move “anti-people,” asking how a purchaser can pay double tax on the same vehicle. He said a person who purchases a vehicle in Delhi, Haryana or elsewhere outside UT which included paying a full-time road tax, however, after arriving in the valley, how he is liable to pay it again. “When tax has already been paid in Delhi or any other state why authorities are demanding tax once again,” KTA President said.
Shahdhar added that this is double taxing and a huge burden on the people of the valley, where the economy has already taken a hit due to continuous lockdowns. “Due to double taxation on a single-vehicle is the reason why people are hesitating to come forward to registering their vehicles,” Shahdhar said.
He appealed to authorities to revisit the move and if there is no alternative, then register the vehicles on nominal charges so that people will come forward voluntarily to register their vehicles.
The KTA President said the revision will ensure the trace-out of vehicles if involved in any untoward incident. “When vehicles would be registered on nominal charges, it would be easy to trace out the vehicle if involved in an accident or law & order issue,” he added.
On the other hand All Kashmir Transport Welfare Association (AKTWA) Chairman Shabir Ahmad Matt however welcomed the move, saying the order will bar outside vehicles for ferrying passengers without having legal permission in the Union Territory. “There are hundreds of vehicles from Gujarat, Punjab, Haryana and other states of India plying in the routes of J&K and ferrying passengers without having proper permission from authorities. I hope the order by RTO Kashmir will bar them onwards from ferrying passengers in J&K,” Matt said. “We have taken up the penetration of outside vehicles in J&K with the Transport Department for early resolution and the latest order in this regard seems a sigh of relief for local transporters,” he said and maintained that “double taxation” is unacceptable and should be revisited immediately for the welfare of transporters.
Kashmir Traders & Manufacturers Federation (KTMF) President Mohammad Yasin Khan termed the move taken in “haste”. “We are unable to understand what present dispensation is doing. Asking people to register outside vehicles within a short period seems a decision taken in haste and without proper deliberation,” Khan said. Khan said that no doubt the step was taken as per the law but there should be a pattern which the Government didn’t adopt. He added that the administration should go for a compassionate review in the order besides people should also be given ample time to register their vehicles. Khan appealed to the Government to revisit the order at the earliest. “We have to take into account the current pandemic. Giving 15 days to vehicle owners for registering their vehicles with the office of RTO, ARTO’s can lead to rush of people at these offices and increase chances of getting infected with the virus,” he added.
The Jammu and Kashmir National Conference Member of Parliament from Anantnag, Hasnain Masoodi, on Tuesday sought exemption of tax on re-registration of non-J&K registered vehicles, urging the government to address the actual roadblocks towards ensuring hassle-free traffic on roads in Jammu and Kashmir.
He said that the re-registration of non-J&K registered vehicles would put an extra burden on the people especially the middle classes despite the fact that a one-time token tax has already been paid to the actual registered state/UT. He said given the economic slump in the region the government is expected to provide succour to the people. He impressed upon the government to levy only a nominal amount of re-registration fee from these vehicles as used to be charged until now. The measure of levying heavy toll tax on re-registration, he said would impede the process of re-registration as the people would skip the process to evade the heavy-duty.
“To ensure that all the outside vehicles are duly re-registered, the government should only charge a nominal amount,” he said. In addition to it, he said such measures won’t help the government deal with the traffic mess. He said that the best way to deal with the traffic mess is to augment the existing road infrastructure in Jammu and Kashmir to live up to the ever-increasing demands of the people.
Masoodi also took strong exception to the newly announced result of J&K banking associate exams, saying the results reveal regional prejudice. “Reportedly out of 1500 qualified candidates, only 200 have qualified the said exam from Kashmir division,” he said. While questioning the results he stated that the youngsters of Kashmir have outshone their counterparts elsewhere in the country by qualifying highly prestigious exams and that the low qualifying percentage of aspirants from Kashmir is inconceivable.
He said that the results have disheartened the most meritorious aspirants who have burnt midnight oil to qualify the exam.