The discussions for implementing Goods and Services Tax (GST) in the state of Jammu and Kashmir began in the legislative assembly on Tuesday. The discussions are based on the resolution moved by the state government to implement GST without interfering with the ‘special status’ of Jammu and Kashmir which is enshrined in the Article 370 India’s constitution.
Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu moved the resolution seeking suggestions from the MLAs on how to implement the 101st amendment of the Indian Constitution in the state with modifications to ensure that the special status under Article 370 of the Constitution is not affected.
“This House resolves that the Government of Jammu and Kashmir may give consent to the adoption of GST regime by application of relevant amendments made to the Constitution of India in a modified form to safeguard existing constitutional position of J&K in the Union of India and the legislative powers under Constitution of J&K,” Drabu read from the resolution. “There are apprehensions about GST across India, much more in Jammu and Kashmir.Every MLA has right to voice his opinion. The government will try to allay their apprehensions,” he said.
However, the discussion was disrupted by the Opposition MLAs who created ruckus inside the assembly forcing Speaker Kavinder Gupta to adjourn the House twice. Opposition MLAs from the National Conference (NC), the Congress and Independents stood up on their seats and rushed towards the Speaker’s chair as the four-day long special session commenced. Speaker even ordered marshalling out of Independent MLA Engineer Rashid and some other opposition MLAs as they raised anti-GST slogans in the house.
“There is no devious game plan, we want a sense of the house and communicate it to the government of India for implementing GST while safeguarding the special status of the state,” Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu assured. “As part of these efforts the government has convened all-party meeting and also formed an all-party panel to build consensus on the issue”, Drabu said.
Speaking on the issue, NC MLA and former finance minister Mohammad Shafi Uri sought a ruling from speaker Kavinder Gupta on the admissibility of the resolution moved by the government.
Citing rules of the Jammu and Kashmir legislative assembly, he said a resolution can only be brought on a specific issue but the present resolution covered multiple issues including constitutional matters. “There is confusion about which rule was followed while presenting the resolution. This resolution is vague and does not fulfill requirements. There are multiple issues. Some taxes are not applicable to Jammu and Kashmir but extending 101st amendment of the constitution will make these applicable to the state,” he said. Responding to Uri’s query, the speaker said the parliamentary procedure maintains that the order given by the chair is final and reasons cannot be asked.
Congress MLA Nawag Rigzin Jora said while section three defines the relation between the state and the union of India, section 5 gives the powers to the state for framing laws including tax laws. “Sections 3 and 5 (J&K constitution) cannot be amended, then how do you bring this resolution. Does it not violate the constitution,” Jora asked. He said the state government should have brought in its own law on GST after consulting legal luminaries, without affecting the special constitution position of the state.