The Yogi Adityanath led Uttar Pradesh government on Friday decided that its ministers will start paying their own income taxes, bringing curtains on a four-decade-old practice of the state exchequer shelling out the amount annually for them. The amount goes to the Income Tax authorities directly from the state exchequer. The decision has been taken on the directives of CM Yogi Adityanath who phoned financed minister Suresh Khanna and asked him to prepare a proposal for cabinet approval before tabling it in the assembly. At least three cabinet ministers in Yogi government had sought that the controversial provision be repealed in the forthcoming special assembly session from October 1 as a tribute to Mahatma Gandhi on his 10th birth anniversary.
This law, the Uttar Pradesh Ministers’ Salaries, Allowances and Miscellaneous Act, 1981, was enacted when Vishwanath Pratap Singh was the Chief Minister, which put the tax burden of the CM and his council of ministers on the shoulders of the exchequer. It was argued in 1981 that the Uttar Pradesh government should bear the income tax burden as most ministers were from poor backgrounds and had meagre incomes. A section of the Act, now scrapped by CM Yogi Adityanath, says, “The salary referred to in sub-sections (1) and (2) shall be exclusive of the tax payable in respect of such salary (including perquisites) under any law relating to income tax for the time being in force, and such tax shall be borne by the state.” The existence of the four-decade-old law, which makes the state government pay the income tax of all ministers, came as a shocker to many as Yogi government decided to scrap it.
The law, enacted when VP Singh was the chief minister, has been in force during the terms of 19 CMs and about 1,000 ministers so far, which have included the likes of Mayawati, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Akhilesh Yadav, ND Tiwari, Kalyan Singh, Rajnath Singh and Yogi Adityanath. It is imperative to note that for the majority of time it was non-BJP parties in the power who let the archaic tradition of exchequer paying the ministers’s taxes continue and prosper. Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati who is worth Rs 111 crore as per her affidavit for the Rajya Sabha polls in 2012. Another former chief minister, Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav, owns assets worth over Rs 37 crore together with his wife Dimple, according to the affidavit filed for the recent Lok Sabha polls.
“The chief minister directed scrapping of all archaic laws, after a detailed discussion, he asked me to quickly draft a proposal for cabinet nod. We will not bear the sins of the Congress Government” said Suresh Khanna, Finance Minister of UP to TOI. Yogi Adityanath deserves credit for the swift action for dismantling such an age-old custom. With this Yogi Adityanath and his council of ministers shall become the first to pay their own Income Tax in 40 years and it shall save the exchequer over Rs 86 lakhs.