When the Times of India reported earlier this year that the state treasury of the UP Government had been bearing the income tax burden of the chief minister and other ministers for years the Yogi Adityaraj government promptly announced that the law in this regard would be repealed soon. True enough, an amendment was soon introduced in the House and the law in question enacted during the era of Late VP Singh was repealed. The Chief Minister and his ministers have now started paying Income Tax from their respective pockets.
Later the Times of India again reported that the UP was not the only state where taxes of ministers and chief ministers were being paid by the state treasury. In fact, according to its report, there are five more states where Income Tax of the chief ministers and ministers are paid from the respective state treasuries. The states are Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh.
In Madhya Pradesh this has been continuing since 1994. Haryana and Himachal Pradesh have been disbursing these taxes for more than 50 years – since 1966 when the state of Punjab was bifurcated and the states became separate entities. In Punjab the practice was discontinued in 2018 on orders of the new chief minister, Capt. Amarinder Singh. Chhattisgarh continues to pay these taxes of its chief minister and ministers after it was carved out of Madhya Pradesh in 2000.
Madhya Pradesh government led by Indian National Congresshas not made any move to repeal the law that sanctioned payment of the income tax of ministers and the chief minister from the state treasury. This is despite the fact that the current chief minister is a crorepati and there are as many as 187 MLAs who are likewise rich enough. The Madhya Pradesh Election Watch and Association for Democratic Reforms has reported that MLAs in the MP Assembly have on an average net asset of around 10 crore and asset of 114 Congress MLA on an average is 9.41 core.
The chief minister and his wife are filthy rich having movable and immovable assets worth more than Rs, 200 crore. And yet he wants the state to pay his Income Tax. The ability to legislate on their own salaries and allowances has allowed these aberrations to creep in to the system. Aberration is a mild word; in fact it is a rip off. While MLAs have been periodically raising their salary and allowances they have not taken care to modify this particular piece of legislation that makes the state foot their tax bills. According to information available on the internet, the salary of a MLA of Madhya Pradesh is Rs. 2.50 lakhs per month. Besides the salary, there are other allowances and perquisites. All this makes them virtually living on the people of this supposedly backward and poor state.
If they happen to have any shame the chief minister should have a bill moved immediately in the Assembly for repeal of the law that makes the state treasury bear the burden of income tax of these multi-millionaires.
Other states like Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh also need to critically examine the matter and repeal the relevant laws to lighten the burden of the tax payers.