For 40 years, citizens have been paying UP's ministers taxes
A four-decade-old law which prevented Uttar Pradesh ministers from paying their own income tax has been repealed by Yogi Adityanath-led state government. According to the Uttar Pradesh Ministers' Salaries, Allowances, and Miscellaneous Act, 1981, the state exchequer "bore the cost" of the ministers. The decision to repeal the Act was taken after a media report revealed about the practice. Here's what went down.
Why was the law enacted in the first place?
The law was enacted in 1981 when VP Singh was the Chief Minister of UP, the most populous state of India. When the bill was brought on the table for discussion, Singh had said that most of the ministers were from a poor background and got meager salaries. The law was passed unnoticed and remained unflagged for a period of 40 long years.
Taking a look at what the law said exactly
A section of the Act said, "The salary 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."
Interestingly, 35 of the total 44 UP ministers are crorepatis
Singh may have thought about the humble background of ministers while approving the Act, but things have changed drastically since. As per ADR, 35 of the total 44 UP ministers are crorepatis. And the average value of assets owned by one minister is approximately Rs. 5.34 crore. In fact, the ministers draw a salary of Rs. 40,000/month. They can definitely pay their taxes.
Courtesy media outrage, Adityanath demanded action against "archaic laws"
After media reports started circulating widely, Adityanath dialed Finance Minister Suresh Khanna and asked him to draft a proposal for cabinet approval in order to scrap "all the archaic laws". During a detailed discussion with Khanna, Adityanath also told him that his administration "will not bear the sins of the Congress government". Ironically, Adityanath was fine with paying taxes for his ministers since 2017.
As it turns out, Adityanath can't take moral high ground
This financial year, the total tax of Adityanath's ministers amounted to Rs. 86 lakh. No points for guessing who paid this money! In fact, the law was not even repealed when Adityanath's senior in BJP, Rajnath Singh, was the CM of the state.
None of the 19 CMs had issues with this law
What's more shocking is that since 1981, UP has seen 19 CMs, including Samajwadi Party's Akhilesh and Mulayam Singh Yadav, and Bahujan Samaj Party's Mayawati. Nearly 1,000 ministers have "served" since then. But no one flagged the problem. In fact, several party leaders including those from BSP, SP, and Congress claimed that they were unaware of any such provisions. Well, that's difficult to digest.