In Chennai, on the East Coast Road running from Chennai to Mahabalipuram and thereafter, the Motor Vehicles officials of Tamil Nadu have been on a drive to harass passenger car owners who ply premium cars which have Pondycherry registration. The grounds for such harassment is the presumption that permanent residents of Tamil Nadu are getting their cars registered in Pndycherry, with a view towards taking advantage of the lower rate of ROAD TAX payable!
Under the Motor Vehicles Act, the jurisdiction for collection of ROAD TAX has been vested with the respective states where the vehicles are registered. Consequently, if the vehicles are registered in Tamil Nadu, for allotment of TN number, ROAD TAX would be payable as per the rates fixed by the Tamil Nadu government and notified under the Tamil Nadu Motor Vehicle Rules. The rates of ROAD TAX varies from state to state and is the highest in the state of Karnataka, where depending on the cost of the car, the rate of Road Tax is fixed. In Tamil Nadu the rate is 10% of the invoice value of the car, whereas in Pondicherry the Road Tax is around 1% of the Invoice value of the car. The interesting part is that almost uniformly, all the states of India collect LIFE TIME TAX, which is for 15 years, assumed to be the life of the vehicle. ROAD TAX is appropriated as an ADVANCE TAX and used up by the state in that year’s budget itself, leaving no scope for refund, if any vehicle were to meet its end before its “life” determined under the ROAD TAX.
Why do the Motor Vehicle officials target the ECR? Because, the Information Technology employees who commute using the OMR or ECR are easy target to the threats of “seizure” of the car by the officials. Further, no “local” backlash would not be felt if transferable IT engineers are caught and made to pay the ROAD TAX as per Tamil Nadu rates. Further, the IT officials/ engineers are likely to pay the tax without demur. The PROBLEM WITH SUCH PAYMENT IS THAT IF THAT PERSON WERE TO GET TRANSFERRED TO ANOTHER STATE, THEN FOR NOT USING THE TAMIL NADU ROADS FOR THE REMAINDER YEARS OF THE 15 YEARS, TAX WOULD NOT BE REFUNDABLE! ABSOLUTELY ILLOGICAL. The Motor Vehicle officials while registering cases on such persons for plying other state registered cars in Tamil Nadu, insert a line saying that the OWNER OF THE CAR, CAME FORWARD ON HIS OWN VOLITION AND PAID TAMIL NADU ROAD TAX! Further, NO REBATE IS GIVEN for the Road Tax already paid in another state of INDIA.
Our CONSTITUTION, which GUARANTEES free movement of persons in India is comatosed by these RULES made by each State to garner revenue. This garnering of REVENUE becomes worse at the beginning of every year, as the budget estimates of the current year is drawing to a close, much below the projection!
ROAD TAX, thus if paid to each state, a person will end up paying for all the 28 states and 7 Union Territories. That is the only time when he will ACQUIRE A RIGHT TO PLY ON ALL THE ROADS OF OUR COUNTRY WITHOUT BEING HARASSED BY THE MOTOR VEHICLE OFFICIALS! No doubt, that no re-registration is required if the vehicle is in the same state for less than a month, but if a person is likely to commute between 2 or 3 states often, should he pay the ROAD TAX for each of the states?
It is time the PARLIAMENT makes a law and allows NATIONAL PERMITS for Passenger cars too, so that persons in transferable jobs and also persons who suffer from wanderlust could apply for it and escape from the nuisance of the state Motor Vehicle authorities. But who cares? Everyone is busy CHAMPIONING THE CAUSE OF THE “POOR”, LEAVING THE SYSTEM TO THE VAGARIES OF OUR IRRATIONAL TAX COLLECTION SYSTEMS.