Wednesday, January 27, 2010


The Indian sub-continent is on the point of a multifaceted volcano having possibility of eruption at any moment, which may result in unforeseen and unhealthy situation. The chronic burning problems of the country are already on the heels to create unrest and instability. An eruption may take place at any time, if the continued chronic problems are not handled with prudence and farsightedness. A trend of eventuality seems to be insight and the volcano in partial slumber, may awake up and erupt at any time. Immature but hasty decision may, no doubt, add fuels to the inner blazed flames of volcano to create catastrophe. The problems of the sub-continent at this stage are of manifolds. The unrest activities of the multifarious groups of ultras in different parts of the country are at present gaining the momentum. The trend of international threat of aggression by the nations, hostile to India, namely; Pakisthan and China already posed to be a cause of great agony and tension. The silent aggression by a section of illegal immigrants from the adjoining territory of Bangladesh and spread over the eastern sector of the Indian Territory more particularly in Assam with some obvious critical and vested aim in mind, has naturally posed to be a great threat to the indigenous people of the area. The said section of people are politically so alert and to whom the shower of blessings from the political level pour so heavily with the theme ‘safe guard the interest of the minority community’ that, it can be construed that it is intended to protect the ‘Vote Banks’. These immigrants use to roam in a separate world with some distinctive aims and objects. Though presently, Bangladesh maintains a good relationship with India under the dynamic stewardship of Shiekh Hasina with the ideology of her late lamented father Banga Bandhu Shiekh Mujibar Rahman, the mischief already caused can not be mended or repaired at this stage. The Bangladesh Government seems not keen to adopt the go back policy of such illegal immigrants from India; the counter part nation (India) also thinks twice to give a good bye and to evacuate the precious vote bank areas. These immigrants are eager to create an atmosphere detrimental to the existence and stability of the indigenous people of Northern States The regional indigenous people irrespective of any caste and creed are gradually forced to be made cipher on account of their deplorable pecuniary condition lack of diplomacy. None can say what their planned strategy is. Whether it is a prelude to expand the territorial base or to gain supremacy in the region. The problems, as cropped up, could have been averted, if the Government of India would have deported the unauthorized and illegal entrants, taking temporary shelter in the Indian soil to get rid of the violent Pakisthan militants, immediately after the liberation of Bangladesh. The people of the eastern sector of the sub-continent are now in doldrums for such imprudent act of the centre. A section of the indigenous people is after the power mongering exercises. The greed of power has the consequential aim to amass the black money. This is either for autonomy of the region or for separate statehood. The expenditure incurred is nominal, compared to the fund provision and the balance is normally pocketed. A section of the people is very much adamant over the question of independence and sovereignty. Presently, the ultra forces, like United Liberation Front of Assam ( ULFA) are adamant to acquire the independence of Assam with the banner of sovereignty. A section of Naga and Bodo militants are maintaining the same moto. There is dearth of knowledge on the concept of independence or sovereignty, as it is believed. The sentiment of cessation from the national net work may crop up, when the mass people of any region feel neglected by the apex Government, the prosperity of the same is legging behind or the political justice is not awarded to the people in representation and share of power in the apex Government. The people of Bangladesh experienced such odds and they initiated revolution within the soil, which ultimately succeeded. Of course India played a pivotal role in such exercise. Such an odd is not visible in Assam. Though initially, there was a sloth in the process of developmental activities, priority has been given after the Chinese aggression more particularly after six years of foreigners’ drive movement. The developmental works are being carried on in a phase manner on priority basis. This played a notable role to do away with the profound grievances of the people. The question of independence is not designed with any logical, legal and practical approaches and is, in fact, superfluous. The independence of Assam is not a matter of joke, as it is surrounded by other eight adjoining States and the buffer State Bhutan between India and China. Moreover, the ability and skillfulness of the independent seekers are to be reckoned. The screen of the Television and the circulated news media well ventilate what the role of 14 elected members in the Lok Sabha and 7 elected members in the Rajya Sabha. They are mostly the silent spectator within the four walls of the Houses of Parliament in the national and international debates. What sorts of qualitative outturn can be expected, if Assam is awarded independence? The ultras know how to kill innocent people, extract money by way of kidnapping and threatening. They lack proper diplomacy and ideology; otherwise they would not have taken shelter in Bangladesh against whom their primary modus-operandi was there. They have no idea or capability to run the administration. A chaos and conflict will naturally take place and the foreign power will take full advantage to over throw the Government and capture power. One must recall the eventuality at the end of weak administration in the Ahom regime of early 18th century, which helped the British traders to expand the trade base and to install power. The main leadership of ULFA have been apprehended and put behind the bar, but they are still vociferous over the question of independence of Assam. They are advocating for dialogue on the vital question of sovereignty or to arrange referendum to seek mass mandate over the question of liberation of Assam. Such referendum can not be expected to be free and fair. The mandate at gun point will get upper hand. The people of Assam irrespective of any class, creed and cadre are already the worst victims in the reign of terror for last 30 years. None has the moral support for the so called independence and sovereignty. The most tough question of this day is creation of more Statehood to provide political berth and economic soundness to a section of the aspirants. The Indian sub-continent already have twenty eight numbers of part States and seven numbers of Union territories. The part States have been provided with adequate power of autonomy in the State within the frame work of the Constitution of India. The Constitution vested some reserved -indispensible power to the Centre to ensure unity and integrity of the country. It has, of late, been noticed that there have been tremendous moves at different states for bifurcation of the existing States and creation of separate States. Telengana, Gokhaland, Bidarva,Harit Pradesh, Bunderkhand etc. are raising their demands for creation of new States. In Assam Bodo, Karbi, Dimacha, Garo are making agitation over the question of creation of new States. The Koch Rajbangshi people of undivided Goalpara district and five or six districts of West Bengal are demanding separate State under the banner of Kamatapur. As published in the news media, there is a base of such demand following an agreement of merger of Coochbehar territory with India, signed by the then King Jagadipendra Narayan Bhup Bahadur and the Government of India, which has been placed before the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India. It is not unlikely that the people of muslim majority areas may sometime come up with such demands in future. The last bifurcation vis-à-vis creation of new States took place on 15.11.2000. Ignoring all other instant claims, the Government of India recently decided to create a new State ‘Telengana’ in bifurcation of the State ‘Andhra Pradesh’. This apparently raised furor amongst the people of Andhra Pradesh and in protest against such a decision of the Government of India, numbers of cabinet ministers, elected representatives resigned by creating a political crisis. Not only that, voices of protests Bundhs episode etc. has already evoked from other parts by the aspirant for statehood. An unrest situation may as well crop over the question of haphazard decision. The creation of new State is a theoretical aspect. The practical aspect must be looked into. The resource potentiality, resource generation and resource mobility are the primary factor for creation of new Statehood. When a State is created, all sorts of requisite infrastructure must be available. In no case, such new State should be a burden to the centre, but a self dependent. In our view, when there were numbers of demands, Centre’s decision to create unilaterally the State of Telengana can not be termed as an act of maturity and prudence.


A Division Bench of the Gauhati High Court, consisting of the Chief Justice Justy Chalemeswar and Justice A.C.Upadhaya recently delivered a historical judgment declaring the frequent bundh culture in the State of Assam as illegal. The judgment followed on the Public Interest Litigation petition fled by a retired police officer and Ex-Member of Parliament Ataur Rahman, a profound social worker Suchibrata Roychoudhury (now dead) and the renowned journalist Mrinal Hazarika seeking a verdict of the highest legal forum of the State covering the north east states of the country, in as much as such bandh calls are disrupting the normal way of life. The labour classes of people can not earn their daily wages, which continues some time for days together. Naturally, such unfortunatepeople have to remain in hunger for deficiency of money power for purchase of food. The school and college students can not attend their classes and there is untold loss in the educational spheres. The office goers from outskirt and distant areas, can not attend offices and the functioning of the offices remains paralyzed. Even, if some office goers take attempt to attend the offices; they have to come across various threats including for life. The bundh culture is spreading so heavily and rapidly that it has obviously become a curse in the civilized society. The bundh callers fail to realize and appreciate the consequential ill effect of the bundh in social life. They make misuse of the constitutional right, namely, right to speech and expression or right to association by extending it to bundh culture. The bundh culture is intended to reflect the act of protest, which is considered to be unwarranted and odd designed. In such exercise, there is dearth of knowledge towards evaluation on the concept of democracy as well as the republican thought. The bundh culture got priority at the time of foreigners’ movement in Assam in 1979 at the behest of the All Assam Students Union, associated by other ingredient parties and organizations under the banner of the ‘Ganasangram Samitee’. Even they took the self-designed administrative power to declare “Janata Curfew´ to enforce such bandh. They disassociated themselves from participating in the National programmes like Independence day, Republic day and forced the mass people to refrain from participation in such holy functions of the auspicious days. What this people used to do after coming to the power is indeed a shameful part of the history. This, in fact, has been made precedence and the agitators and the bandh callers of various groups or organizations are following the suit. The United Liberation front of Assam, a part acts of other brutal and unlawful activities, simultaneously uses to declare bundh and the innocent people have no other alternative, but to abide by such unlawful- designed calls. When the ‘ Assam Bundh’ and ‘Bharat Bandh’ calls are operative, the ’district bandh’ and ‘regional bandh’ are as well parallely gaining the momentum. There are various types of demands like providing autonomy, creating Statehood and even acquiring independence and sovereignty. That means, all are hankering after power to establish themselves in the power scenario. There is least thought for the welfare and upliftment of the common people, but to install in power- no matter whether the unity and integrity of the country get any set back. This bandh culture has spread so speciously that there no surety to reach the destination of perambulation within the time bound programme. The time factor is now irrelevant, but the bandh factor has to be reckoned in every step and given due cognizance. These unhealthy and unhygienic bandh culture; on the other hand, have been prominently cubing the mobilization of resources and the State economy has been put to a doldrums. The road-bandh being an inherent and integral part of the bandh culture, there is unhealthy and irritating blockade of transportation of goods and passengers. In fact, Assam is solely dependent of the essential commodities and other important commodities from places out side the State. The movement of goods to the other six sister States takes place through the corridor of Assam and naturally the economic activities of the said States get jeopardized. When the road blockade takes places, there is dearth of import with consequential shortfall of supplies. It is well known that price hike irrespective of any commodities have been spreading so widely like wild fire that there is unbearable murmuring of the incapable purchasers seeking solution. The benign Governments at the State and centre are keeping mum and practically remained cipher. We hail the verdict of the High Court, which provided relief to the mass people of the State. The verdict of the court will not , however, be enough, but there must be law to enforce the verdict incorporated with penal measures. The ball is now at the court of the Government. If the Government thinks seriously and sincerely for the welfare and prosperity of the people, the bandh episode will have to seek adieu soon and the people can confidently hope that the end will be knocking at the door.


‘Tax’ means ‘the money that must be paid to the State; charged as a proportion of personal income and business profits or added to cost of some goods and services’ ‘ Income’ means ‘a money received during a certain period for work or from investment.’ “Agriculture’, on the other hand, means ‘a science or practice of farming.’ ‘Tax on income’ is thus money to be paid on the profits earned for works or investment, while; ‘Tax on agricultural income’ is ‘the money to be paid on profit earned on the practice of farming.’ ‘Tax on income’ is a subject, administered by the Government of India (Central Govt.) through the machineries at its disposal. Article 246(1) of the Constitution of India (Constitution) empowered Parliament to make enactment of laws on the subjects, specified in Seventh Schedule- List I (Union List). ‘Tax on income other than agricultural income’, as occurred in entry 82 of the said Schedule is thus the subject of levy of tax by the Central Govt. In fact, the measure of tax on income in India was introduced in British Parliament long back in 1860 to bear the economic burden on account of armed revolution of the First War of Independence against the British regime. The reasonableness of such measure of income tax adopted, were assigned as, it is a (i) canon of ability for paying such tax; (ii) canon of certainty; (iii) canon of convenience and (iv)canon of economy. There was, however, no such tax from 1865-67 on account of public murmuring. The Income Tax Act, 1886 was brought out to build- up licence tax. The Income Tax Act, 1922 continued to be operative in post independent period too. After the Constitution took birth on January, 26th, 1950, the said Act continued remained in force with the safe guard provided under the banner of Article 277 (Savings) of the Constitution. The Income Tax Act was remodeled and it was passed in the House of Parliament in September, 1961 and the Indian Income Tax Act, 1961 (Income Act) thus came into effect. It is, in fact, a tax only on income, profits or gains and not on the capital, whether original, substituted or increased. The salient features are, therefore, - (i) income tax is only a charge on income and not the capital; (ii) the method of charging tax on income and capital gains is different; (iii) in computing the taxable income of a business, profession or vocation, only the revenue expenditure and not the capital expenditure is deducted from the trading profits. ‘Tax on agricultural income, is a subject, administered by the State Governments through the tax machineries of the State. In 1925 the Indian Taxation Enquiry Commission opined the justification of creating a measure of tax on agricultural income, but the same was not readily materialized. The Government of India Act, 1935 as well incorporated entry 41 in the Seventh Schedule of Provincial Legislative List to facilitate introduction of tax measure on agricultural income. The measure of tax on agricultural income was thus introduced and the Assam Agricultural Income Tax Act, 1939 (Agricultural Act) was enacted by the then provincial Legislatures of Assam operative from 1.4.1939. After India achieved Republican character in 1950, entry 46 in the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution provided power to the Legislatures of the State to enact law on the ‘Taxes on agricultural income tax’. The 1939 Act, however, continued to be operative by virtue of savings provisions in Article 277 of the Constitution. It is worthy to mention that within this long spell of 70 years, a number of amendments of the Act took place following administrative needs and in consideration of public interest. ‘Tax on income’, as defined in clause (29) of Article 366 of the Constitution ‘includes a tax on the nature of an excess profits tax’, ‘ Agricultural income’ as defined in clause (i) of the said Article means ‘agricultural income, as defined for the purpose of the enactments relating to Indian income tax.’ The Constitution thus maintained silence to provide independent and categorical definition on the term ‘agricultural income’ and it is kept dependent on the Income Act. The definition in the Income Act incorporated that ‘the income that is derived from the land of agriculture’. The tax on income and the tax on agricultural income are levied taking into consideration the income derived in the previous year subject to deduction of the amount, admissible under the relevant Acts out of the total quantum of income derived. Though the main theme of the agricultural Act is that, it is a tax on agricultural income, but some deviation has been made in the matter of determination of the quantum of the agricultural income of tea. Income derived from tea is to be bifurcated as income on agricultural activities and on trade activities. The ratio maintained thereof is 60 : 40- that is, 60 percent on agricultural income and 40 percent on trade income. This principle is exclusively maintained in case of tea only and not on other production like paddy, pulses, wheat, sugar cane etc. where also simultaneously question of agriculture and trade are involved. There are good numbers of tea gardens, which produce green tea leaves and effect sales to the black tea manufacturing industries. It is not exactly known how they are roped in the tax net for purpose of levy of tax on income and agricultural income in accordance with the designed ratio. The tax on land, with the measuring scale of production of green tea leaves in smaller tea gardens, are not levied directly, but on the sales made to the manufacturing tea gardens, which purchase for production of black tea. The measures, adopted seem to be fallacious. The imposed restriction on the levy of 100% tax of tea obviously created an acute set-back in the revenue generation exercise of the State. In fact, tea industry is one of the few limited industries of Assam. This aspect of law requires a rethinking for rationalizing the fiscal disequilibrium at par with the income of the other agricultural commodities. The measure of tax, as introduced by the erstwhile provincial legislature of Assam and continued for long 70 years provided ample power to the Agricultural income tax authorities to administer the Act, that is, levy of tax and other allied matters. Over the head of such ardent vested quasi-judicial power, the exclusive power of determination of the quantum of total income and bifurcation thereof has been vested upon the income tax authority, causing a double standard in the power exercise scenario. It, no doubt, amounted to be a centralization of power the identical State law under the statute of law by way of encroachment and seems to be irrational and pre-judicious. The Agricultural Income Tax Rules laid down some discretionary power to agricultural authority for scrutiny and examination on such determination and bifurcation in such cases, when circumstances warranted so. The Supreme Court of India, of late, quashed the validity of the said State rule. This has the consequential effect that the State tax authorities are to remain cipher and to act like rubber stamps on the unitary decision of the central authorities. The quasi-judicial aspect in the agricultural Act thus practically intended to seek a good bye. The Head Offices of limited numbers of industries, installed in Assam, like tea industries, oil industries, coal industries etc. are mostly located at places out side the State of Assam. The taxes on income are generally deposited by such industrial entrepreneurs out side Assam. The concerned States in which such tax revenue deposits are made use to get share of income tax, as envisaged in Article 270(2) of the Constitution. Assam is thus deprived of such benefit even though the base of production, manufacturing and trade activities is totally within the parameter of Assam. The sensitive sons of the soil of Assam, urge upon the Government of Assam to consider this revenue generation issue and raise this vital pertinent question before the central Govt. so that an amendment of the Constitution is made to ensure augmentation of revenue to this economically backward State.


The Assam Legislative Assembly adopted an unanimous resolution on 2nd April, 2002 demanding that the big tea companies, having tea gardens in Assam, are to shift their Head Quarters to Assam so that the local youths can get preference in appointment and other ancillary facilities. For that purpose, it decided to send a team of State Legislatures led by the Speaker of the Assembly to put pressure on the Government of India for mobilization of the process. It is not known what was the ultimate out-turn, but there is reason to believe that that it was simply a castle in the air.
There are about 800 tea gardens in Assam having there industrial base side by side. The big tea companies have their Head Offices at Kolkata, will be not less than 90% of such industrial based gardens, existent in Assam. The functioning of the gardens are carried on by remote control devices from Kolkata and the local management in Assam are kept in the dark about the modus-operandi in relation to the sales and purchases exercise effected from the gardens, employment avenue and other allied matters. They are to remain practically cipher in all respects. There can not question of ‘what’ any ‘why’. In true sense, the Head offices owe little allegiance to the State, bother a little for the development and welfare of the people of Assam, They use and utilize the soil of Assam, as the grazing grounds of the company for production and manufacture of tea keeping the aim in view to enrich and enlarge their assets and fiscal resources. Several moves were already made requiring the tea companies to shift their Head Quarters from Kolkata to Assam, but it reached to the deaf ears without any positive and fruitful reactions.
The tea lobby, as it appears, is very much powerful in Assam. They play the pivotal role in the elections scenario vis-a-vis installation of the party Governments to power and even dare to make imposition over the functioning of the Government. The Government in power, it seems from experience, can not over rule their imposed counsels or to be tough to them thereby to invite any displeasure. Neither the Government of Assam nor the Government of India is keen to force or make any imposition to the tea companies to shift the Head offices to Assam. This, they feel, may be abusive in as much as it would make way to curb the fundamental rights, guaranteed by the Constitution of India. The only way, as we believe, is that there should be effective dialogue, assertive pressures and keen pursuance by the mass people of Assam to yield any productive yields.
Avenue of employment :The Head offices of the tea companies formulate the recruitment policy of the respective gardens and make proper implementation of the same through the machineries installed in Assam. In such exercise, the youths of Assam are mostly deprived of any executive, technical or other important assignments in the tea gardens. There is no proper and proportionate representation of the youths of Assam in the Head offices of the tea companies, which are being run at the cost of earnings, derived from the soil of Assam. In that way, they project their indifference and callousness and obviously fail to discharge their obligations not only to the State but to the mass people of Assam. The acute unemployment problems could have been minimized to a great extent had the tea companies extended their healthy and sympathetic gesture to do away with the same.
Purchases of goods :The tea gardens of Assam are not empowered to purchase any goods in Assam. The Head offices make it a prevalent practice to purchase the motor vehicles, machinery, plants, equipment, production and packing materials and other requisites at Kolkata or some other places to the best of their best choice. It was pointed out in the Legislative Assembly at the relevant time that out of such 256 items purchased from places out side the State of Assam, the purchase value of tea bags alone came to Rs. 32 crore in a year. The way of such divergent trade activities adopted, is, no doubt, quite detrimental to the interest of the usual trade practice vis-à-vis healthy growth of economy in the form of revenue in Assam.
Entry tax :A measure of tax on the entry of goods was introduced in Assam by way of enactment of the Assam Entry Tax Act, 2001.The said Act was subsequently repealed consequent upon some legal controversies and a fresh law was enacted from 1st June, 2008. If such items embodied in the entry tax net of Assam, are imported on purchase for use or consumption by the tea gardens, the revenue generation is likely to be ensured and the heavy drainage of revenue in the name of purchase in other State is expected to be averted. It is felt that the tea companies will ultimately prefer to exercise a reverse course of action vis-a vis to purchase such goods, as are available in Assam to make wide flow of revenue to the State Coffer. Of course, the goods, which can not be had in Assam are to be purchased from places out side Assam and there is no other alternative to that.
The tea garden owners are extracting money from Assam soil and making investments of the heavy profit amount, earned thereof, in places out side the State. A dearth of interest is always in sight in their minds for the development and prosperity of Assam. In economic spheres too, the State fails to get the legitimate revenue on this pretext or that.
It is high time that the Government is to assert its stand and impress upon the tea gardens, augmenting the resources from the soil of Assam to be aware of their obligation and allegiance for the development of Assam, which is still maintaining acute backwardness, compared to others States in the Indian sub-continent. The voice of the people will equally be a basic way of action in compelling such tea companies to change such modus-operandi in the long run.

(Mrinal Kanti Chakrabartty)
“Rudrs Bhawan”R.G. Barua Road, Lakhimipath


‘Green tea leaves’ are like the ‘raw gold’ and the ‘black tea’ are the ‘precious ornaments’. The tea cultivation in Assam was started from the early part of the eighteen century. The East India Company before taking over the helm of power in Assam discovered numbers of tea plants in the jungles of Assam. They could guess that proper cultivation of tea and utilization of the same by industrial exercise will, no doubt, be a lucrative business. The yield of a substantial financial resource would thus be knocking at the door. Actually tea is one of the factor, which tempted the British Raj to install power in the hazardous area.
Tax on tea : On sales- The first measure of tax on tea was introduced from 1.4.1939 on the income derived from agriculture. The measure of tax on the sales of tax is a subsequent exercise. In 1970, a further measure of tax was adopted on the sales of tea in the Guwahati Tea Auction Market through the brokers. Again, from 1.1.1990, a new measure of tax was adopted on the land and productivity of green tea leaves was reckoned as the measuring scale for the purpose of levy of tax on the tea garden lands.The present tax structure on the sales of tea, an indigenous product of Assam, is as below:-(i) When sold locally in Assam - @ 5 paise in the rupee at the point of first point sale of tea in Assam under the Assam Value Added Tax Act, 2003 (VAT Act). Though the basic structure under the VAT Act was to levy tax at every point of sales in Assam subject to refund of tax paid at the point of the previous purchases, a departure has been made in the case tea and some other allied items like crude oil, petrol, diesel, petroleum products, coke, biscuit, liquor etc., where the tax measure has been introduced at the point of first sale in Assam.(ii) When sold in the course of inter-State trade or commerce- 2 paise in a rupee to a registered dealer and 10 paise to other than a registered dealer.(iii) When sold in the Guwahati Tea Auction Market- 2 paise tax in a rupee payable by the brokers. (iv) When such tea, purchased through the brokers either in the auction market is re-sold to the registered dealers in the course of inter-State trade or commerce- the tax paid is reimbursed.Such measure of exemption of tax on tea sold in the Guwahati Tea Auction Market and subsequently sold by such purchasers in the course of inter-State trade or commerce was introduced long 40 years back with a view to encourage proper growth of the auction market. Of course, there seems to be profound deficiency in the proper functioning of the said tea auction market at Guwahati.
Stock transfer of tea, a tax free deal :The practice of transfer of stock of tea to the Head offices or to the agents from the tea gardens of Assam is very much in vogue in the tea business scenario of Assam. It proved to be a farce in many cases. It may be used a legal weapon to evade payment of tax on the sales of tea made under the coverage of stock transfer of goods some times by way of manipulation of the documents. In fact, the Head offices of many tea companies control the whole episode of sales and the stock transfer of tea. It was well established in many cases that such transfer of stock was actually the sales in the course of inter-State trade or commerce in letter and spirit, but a foul play is adopted to evade payment of taxes by a camouflage exercise. If the taxing authorities accept such modus operandi of the tea companies as a challenge and go ahead in operation to unearth such modus operandi, many odds is likely to be unveiled and the mischief caused to this poor State by arresting the tax dodging activities. A substantial amount of revenue would have consequently poured to State coffer making way for augmentation of the State revenue. The active vigilance and mobilization in the field of activities would have totally cracked down such mal-practices with resultant positive out turn of revenue generation. Such a constructive measure is, however, absent. The Head offices of many tea companies, as it is found from experience, are directly involved in such unhealthy episode at the cost of revenue of Assam. A complete up-rooting of such episode may be possible, when the Head offices are shifted to Assam.
Tax on tea garden lands :The Government of Assam enacted the Assam Tax (On Specified Lands) Act, 1990 for levy of tax on tea garden lands taking into account the production of green tea leaves as the measuring scale, as discussed above. The rate of tax was initially fixed at 0.50 paise per kilogram of green tea leaves tea produced. A section of aggrieved tea companies challenged the validity of the Act before the Gauhati High Court and the Supreme Court of India pleading such exercise as illegal and unconstitutional. While the cases of litigation were pending before the Courts of law, the Government of Assam suddenly signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the representatives of such tea companies, which had the consequential effect of abrupt reduction of the rate of tax from 0.50 paise to 0.18 paise. It is pertinent to mention that the Government of West Bengal also faced similar challenge for introducing such an identical measure of tax. The patience would have yielded a positive result, as verdict of the Supreme Court was in favour of introduction of such tax measure. The impatience and hurried decision forced the Government of Assam to surrender before the tea lobby and to depart from its original stand, causing an irreparable loss of revenue at the primary stage. Of course, the State Government has now raised the rate of tax to 0. 20 and 0.32 paise at different stages. The tax relief provided to the tea gardens owning lands not exceeding 40 hectares has also been withdrawn. The present measure adopted for levy of tax on land below 40 hectares to the tea the industrial units on sale consideration seems to be a controversial exercise.
A disparity between the production of green tea leaves and manufacture of finished tea is sometimes noticed, as the figures disclosed to the State tax department and to the Central Excise department records a big sphere of gap. An investigation and application of proper check tactfully may unveil many odds.
Tax on Agricultural Income :Article 246(1) read with entry 46 of List-II-State List of the Constitution provided exclusive power to the State Legislature to introduce the measure of tax on agricultural income. Article 366(1) of the Constitution defined agricultural income, which means agricultural income as defined for the purpose of the enactment relating to Indian Income Tax. The ball was thus thrown to the law making body of the Union. The definition of agricultural income, inter-alia, laid down two fold of income in the case of tea –(i) out of cultivation (ii) out of processing and trade activities. The specified ratio of income was determined at 40% for the Centre in the form of income tax and 60% for the State in the form of income on agriculture. The State can thus levy tax on 60% percent of income and that, too, left un-assessed by the income tax authorities without raising any question of dispute or dissention. The Government of India thus shares a substantial amount of revenue out of such agricultural income on tea. We remember that Sri Prafulla Kumar Mahanta, the then Chief Minister of Assam strongly urged upon the Government of India for removal of such discrimination in case of tea alone and pleaded for raising it to 100%. The fate on the said move is immediately not known. It is hoped that such demand should be revived once again for the interest of this poor State.The maximum rate of tax on agricultural income came up to 83 paise in a rupee in early seventies. The collection of such tax topped at the relevant times. Gradually the rate of tax was reduced to 30 paise in the rupee and other benefits and relieves were also provided in this respect. The result is that the collection of tax started receding. In making such relaxation, the interest of the tea companies was given priority at the cost of loss to the State.
(Mrinal Kanti Chakrabartty) “Rudrs Bhawan”R.G. Barua Road,


‘Limited income’ but ‘unlimited expenditure’ has the consequential effect of unhealthy economic imbalance in the day to day way of life. Apparently, a vacuum has been created in the smooth life standard of the people. Assam, a part State of the Indian sub-continent has extensive agricultural lands, mighty rivers with their un-reckonable tributaries, huge numbers of beels, ponds and water pools, but, in fact, the austerity of life style can not be maintained out the agricultural products and fish population derived out of lands and water pools. The people have, therefore, to depend largely on the imported food staff and fishes from places out side the State. The raw materials like jute, superi, hides and skins can not be utilized in converting into finished products due to the dearth of industrial base. The raw materials have thus to be disposed of at a cheaper value paving way for ardent and unlimited fiscal gain by inter- State industrial - giants and the resourceful business magnets. The State of Assam is deprived of the legitimate pecuniary benefits. The reasons of poor agricultural outturn out of the lands are of many folds. The methods of cultivation applied in Assam, are very old and unscientific ones. Application of modern devices of cultivation by tractors, power tillers and of like is very rare. The manures used in the field by traditional burning of tree-leaves, paddy roots or application of cow dung are the cultivators’ normal habits. The chemical fertilizers are applied by a class of well to do people and the same are almost out of the reach of the common cultivators. The irrigation system is not upto the mark. Draughts play a vulnerable role in damaging the products. The century- backs ‘harrows and ploughs’ are the main agriculture implements in Assam. In other States, the application of modern implements ensures at least four types of cultivation in a year with yields of substantial products, while in Assam, more than two crops products in a year can not be expected. The products are also in most cases divisible amongst the land lords and the cultivators and such shared production becomes insufficient. The total area of Assam is 78,438 square kilometer. The cultivating land will be hardly 1/5th of the total area, as the hilly areas rivers and other water pools, townships cover a plenty part of the total area. The population of the State as per 2001 census is 2,66, 55,526 nos. The areas, covered for production of different types of crops with the quantities of production are, as below : *(a) Areas of production 2004-05 2005-06 +(b) Quantities of production (a) Rice (different types) 2383000 hectare 2420000 hectare (b) “ 3470000 Tonnes 3552000 Tonnes (a) Cereals “ 2474000 “ 2497000 “ (b) “ 3556000 ‘ 3624000 “ (a)Food crops “ 2582000 “ 2597000 “ (b) “ 3617000 “ 3680000 “ (a) Oil seeds 287000 “ 254000 “ (b) “ 147000 “ 110000 “ (a) Fibres 64000 “ 63000 “ (b) “ 436000 “ 605000 “ (a) Fruits & Vegetables 164000 “ 154000 “ (b) “ 1608000 “ 1314000 “ (a) Other misc. crops 131000 “ 129000 “ + Cocoa nuts, as included in oil seeds are in term of million nuts, cotton, mesta, as included in term fibres are 170/180 kg in each bale, arecanut as included in misc. crops is in term of cured nuts and sugar cane is in term of cane. The current figures being mot readily available there will not be much variation of the figures exhibited above. The goods so produced, can not normally meet the growing requirements of the ever increased population phenomena and hence the import of the commodities becomes imperative. Notwithstanding that the fishes of different types have the roaming beds in the rivers and tributaries, the number and area of fisheries in Assam in 2006-07 were, as follow:- Registered Beel - Numbers 430 Area 602215 Hectares Ponds and tanks “ 278755 “ 38767 “ Unregistered Beel “ 766 “ 40600 “ Swamp and waste land “ 9852 “ 39240 “ Registered river fisheries 177 “ - The production of Fish seed in 2006-07 is 2062.61 (million numbers) and that those of fishes were 1,81,479 tones. Obviously, therefore, such commodities can not cater to the growing needs of the people. The question of import has thus gained the momentum. In such import exercise, price element leaps no bound. The high cost at source, the cost of transportation, the whims of the administrative raj, the touts’ foul play are the main factors for increase of heavy price. Besides, the question of the margin of profit at the different levels makes way for such mounting price rise, which some times reach four times of the price at the source. The price of the essential commodities has gone to such a high degree that it is practically beyond the reach of the common people. The rich classes of people can effort easily, the poor classes of people survive some how.They have necessity, but no aspiration. But the acute victims are the middle classes of people, who can not accommodate in any way. The fish price is going to be higher and higher. Even the small sizes of fishes cost Rs. 400.00 per kg. Assam produces abundant vegetables, but the prices of the same have simultaneously gone high. There is margin of four times growth of price in urban areas, compared to the rural areas. The Government of Assam has not finally given effect to the revised pay scale to the employees. So, naturally, the employees can not stand before such heavy price rise. What is generally done is that they take resort to acquire black money to over come the challenge of grave economic crisis. So, the fiscal indiscipline and a financial instability has gained the momentum. It is high time that Government should awake up from deep slumber and take remedial measure to restore stability.

(Mrinal Kanti Chakrabartty)
“Rudrs Bhawan”R.G. Barua Road,