Govt not to roll back tax on helicopter services


Govt not to roll back tax on helicopter services
KG News Desk
Srinagar, June 16: Government today ruled out roll back of the tax imposed in September last year on the commercial helicopter services operating within the state.
At present, no such proposal is under consideration with the government, Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu said in a reply to a question in the state Assembly here.
BJP MLA Rajeev Jasrotia had asked whether there was any proposal to roll back the tax imposed on helicopter service to Vaishno Devi shrine.
Commercial helicopter services operating within the state have been brought within the ambit of taxation vide a notification issued on September 2, 2015 issued by Finance Department. The rate of tax in respect of commercial helicopter services is 12.6 per cent.
Asked whether the said tax would be made applicable to the helicopter services to the 3,880 metre high holy cave shrine of Amarnath in south Kashmir Himalayas, the minister said it is applicable to all commercial helicopter services.
Drabu said all commercial helicopter services in the state were taxed and not just those operating at Mata Vaishno Devi shrine.
“Let us not make it sound as if the tax has been imposed on a religious place. It is the high end pilgrim tourist which has been taxed. Even the Shrine Boards have been imposing levies on basic facilities provided to pilgrims,” Drabu said.
BJP MLA R S Pathania and independent MLA Pawan Kumar Gupta, raising supplementaries, said the imposition of the tax was “illegal” as aviation falls in the Union list of subjects.
Pathania said the order did not even have the cabinet nod.
Drabu said the decision to impose tax on the helicopter service has been taken by the Finance Department.
“The tax on commercial helicopter services was imposed under Jammu and Kashmir Sales Tax Act of 1962. It is well within our powers,” the Finance Minister said.
“If they find it illegal, there is recourse to the court of law. Indian constitution is applicable to Jammu and Kashmir through Article 370 and the state constitution,” he added.
Gupta, who was a minister from the BJP quota when the tax was imposed last year, said he was not satisfied with the government’s reply and staged a walkout in protest.

Ruling, opposition MLAs protest over reservation issue
The issue of reservations in promotions for government employees today rocked the Jammu and Kashmir assembly again even as government maintained that the issue cannot be discussed in the House as it was pending adjudication before the Supreme Court.
Cutting across party lines, several MLAs from opposition Congress, National Conference and ruling PDP-BJP stormed the Well of the House to register their protest against the alleged government inaction in restoring the reservation in promotions for government employees.
Congress leader Nawang Rigzin Jora conducted mock assembly proceedings in the well of the house after Speaker Kavinder Gupta refused to halt the Question Hour proceedings to discuss the issue of reservations.
The protesting members had enacted similar scenes on Tuesday as well.
Law Minister Abdul Haq Khan intervened in the matter and reiterated that the house can deliberate on the matter only after the apex court has delivered its verdict on it.
“The honourable members are aware that the matter is pending adjudication before the Supreme Court. Let the Supreme Court give its verdict and then we can take it forward,” he said.
Not satisfied with the government statement, the agitating members staged a walkout from the house.