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- As per my belief and experience, Society functions based on conditioning, not based on intelligence or common sense. The day the people starts to use the intelligence and common sense in their day to day life the society will start to become civilized. I have some experiences when I have not responded in a typical conditioned manner and got some interesting results. Some of which I would like to share in the forum.
I have purchased a DDA flat from an allottee under Power of Attorney in the year 1996. Among the other papers, the allottee had given me all the receipts of the Property Tax he had deposited with MCD. The receipt of the Tax for the year 1995 was not among them. He explained that somehow he had missed the payment otherwise everything is O.K. To my shock, after one or two months of shifting to the new place I received a demand letter from MCD asking to deposit around Rs.28000/- as house tax (Rs.2300/- for the current year and the rest as arrears).
The receipts of the earlier payments which I was having showed an annual tax of around Rs.800/- only with a discount for making advance payment. So, as per my calculation the total outstanding amount should not be more than Rs.1600/-. After some days the Tax Inspector appeared in my house accompanied by one Assistant. The Inspector sat on the sofa without removing his dark sunglasses as if he own the place. I tried to reason with him that there is some serious mistake with the bill they have raised. He silenced with a casual wave of his hand and nudged his Assistant to make the presentation to the ignorant guy. He made some story about some inspection conducted by the MCD some years back based on which they have decided to increase the tax with effect from a back date. He also told me that they have raised the tax demand last year itself and that is the reason why I am not finding the last years demand letter of receipt with the papers with me.
I was obviously not very impressed. I told them that they will need to show me the relevant documents as I was convinced that they cannot have any documents which justify the atrocious demand. They told me that I can visit MCD office to have a look at the relevant documents. Later on I had some talks with some other peoples in the area who told me that MCD people are very powerful and visiting their office will not serve any purpose. I was also told that a number of other households has also received high demands and the only way to decrease the demand is to bribe the concerned official. The Assistant who accompanied the Inspector met me outside the house some time later and reasoned about the futility of making the matter more complicated and advised me to hush up the matter. He told me that he will arrange a meeting with the Inspector later on and settle the matter, reluctantly I have agreed to a date and time in which they will visit my house.
Later on, from my interaction with my neighbors I realized that the settlement will be a costly affair. The Inspector will most likely will start with an amount which will be almost equal to my 3 Months gross salary. I would be lucky if I am able to convince the fellow to bring down to half the amount and I was not confident about my negotiation skills. From the outright boorish manner in which the Inspector was behaving I was doubtful that I will be able to make any meaningful conversation with him.
As fate will have it, the Inspector had not appeared on the exact time he had given me. Finding an opportunity to back out from the meeting, I had waited for 10 or 15 minutes more for him to appear and then went out of the house. In the road I had seen them somewhere in the distance but feigned not to see them and proceeded in another direction.
One or two days later, I went to the MCD Office to have a look at the "Official records" based on which the demand is made. The Inspector showed me a folder, on the other wise empty side of a paper there was some scribbling like a marginal note stating "Inspected the site, found to be on rent. Name of the tenant not disclosed. Rent Rs.2000/-)". The date mentioned was of 1992. I was about to ask some questions on the matter when one of the colleague suddenly intervened and advised the Inspector not to give too much time to one individual.
To cut short I had spent some more time in the Office requesting them to accept the amount which I have calculated and proceed with their formalities for collecting the balance amount as I am not prepared to deposit an amount which they are not prepared to explain to me in black and white. They told me that they cannot accept any amount if it is less than half the demand amount. I have visited their Office once again to meet his superior who is in-charge of the Office.
Will continue later..)CommentQuote0Flag
- Sorry, I am not a natural writer (or speaker). It takes a lot of time for me to write and I was having shortage of time.
In between I had a look at the papers with me. Though it will not make much of a difference, I thought I will make some small corrections. The Tax bill was for Rs.28000/-, which included the arrears for 2 years, and yearly tax of Rs.3320/-, whereas the original tax was Rs.792/- per year. About the inspection story what they have written is that the inspection was conducted in 1991 - the tax increased in 1994 but with effect from 1988 (the possession of the flat was probably taken in 1987 or1988 from DDA by the owner).
In my 3 trips to the Office, they have offered to reduce the tax but before that I should bring the records for my purchase from the allottee (otherwise I will also be treated as a tenant only). But they were telling me this in a manner as if they were trying to divert the attention of a child creating ruckus. I persisted that I am in their office to settle the demand which is already raised by MCD before my coming into the property and the MCD should settle it or tell me how they are going to handle it before they start verifying my credentials as a tenant or owner. In my third day the Assistant/Deputy Assessor & Collector had gone as much as to use expletives to abuse me but declined to receive the payment which I was willing to make.
After reaching home, I had made a detailed registered letter with clinical details of the preceding events. I had not mentioned about offer of negotiation offered based on consideration and the abuse part. But it was an open challenge to their authority making fun at their style of functioning. It was the last week of December and a discount available for timely payment would not be available from January onwards. I had enclosed a cheque for the tax for 3 years (2 years arrears) as per my calculation (Rs.2300) and alleged that they are trying to put the house owners in the defaulters list by not allowing them to deposit the tax they are willing to pay. I wrote "After accepting the cheque, and issuing receipt, I would like to have a letter addressed to me giving the details of the outstanding amount if any, which I am more than willing to pay, provided the account of the claimed amount is divulged. I hope you will also appreciate the fact that clarity on matters like this will increase the credibility of Officers working in Offices having public dealing". I ended the letter wishing them a happy and Prosperous New Year (with Prosperous in bold). They have promptly accepted the amount and sent the receipt by post!
To be continued)CommentQuote0Flag
- In January 1997, I have received a Demand Notice from MCD stating "Please take notice that the Commissioner demands from you a sum of Rs ... on account of property taxes for the above mentioned property, leviable under the DMC Act, raised during the year 1996-97 and that if, within 30 days from the service of this notice, the said sum is not paid to the Commissioner at the address given above or sufficient cause for non-payment is shown to the satisfaction of the Commissioner, warrant of distress or attachment will be issued for the recovery of the same with costs."
They have raised a bill for RS.29600/- in September 1997 (I send the amount as per my calculation by Regd. post) followed up with a notice in Dec 97 and another printed letter in October 98 with a bold red coloured stamp declaring LAST OPPORTUNITY in which I was asked to present my self with documents (they have ticked all the items available in the printed letter) at 2 PM on a particular day. The letter stated "In case of your failure to appear on the date and time and submission of necessary documents as indicated above it will be presumed that you have no objection to the above tax demand and the same will be recovered through coercive measures as per provisions of Section ...."
I had visited the MCD Office one week after the date on which I was asked to present myself and handed over copies of the documents establishing my ownership of the flat. I had also submitted a letter giving my position in the whole business. They told me that I can deposit the "Admitted Tax' and the MCD will take a decision on my application and convey to me. If I feel the need to go for any appeal on the decision, I can go for appeal in their regional office located in R.K.Puram. The basis of calculation of the Tax they are not prepared to discuss with me but may disclose in Court only. I had sent the Admitted Tax (old amount only) by post again.
I have not received any reply to my letter conveying MCD's decision. However, next year, i.e. in 1999, the bill came with considerable reduction, with an arrears of Rs.8423/- and a tax of Rs.2360/-. This was again 2 to 3 times to what my neighbours were paying which I was not willing to pay. Obviously MCD was expecting me to go for an appeal in the R.K.Puram Office who in turn will direct me back to local Office for their mercy, or to file a Case. In my next letter enclosing the Cheque, I have stated my position that since I have not received any reply to my letter and since there is nothing on record to show that MCD had done proper application of mind in assessing my Tax "I WILL ASSUME THAT THIS IS A TYPING ERROR".
On receiving the next demand notice I gave the reply(January 2000) asking them to clarify as to whether the notice were issued after considering my various letters starting from 1996, if so at what level, before issuing the notice, since I was considering to make an appeal to the next higher level. The game of the Officials was to show me that MCD is a mammoth creature which can move in a particular manner which it is programmed to and is not required to answer to any queries raised. The pre-printed letters/notices at their disposal makes this style of operation easy. I was not prepared to buy this argument and wanted to put the onus of explanation to one or two rascals in the Office.
The next notice was in February 2001 with a big title SHOW CAUSE NOTICE BEFORE INITIATING COERCIVE ACTION TO RECOVER OUTSTANDING DEMAND, with a LAST OPPORTUNITY stamp. The second para of the notice read "As per Sections 155, 156 and 157 of the Delhi Municipal Corporation Act, 1957 this demand is recoverable by imposition of penalties, attachment of rents, attachment and sale of moveables and immovables. However, before proceeding with aforesaid action, please show cause by 13/2/2001 (11 AM) why action to recover this demand, as above, be not initiated against you. There was a P.S. in the notice which states:- In case there is any Stay from any Court, this Notice may please be treated as amended to that extent and the undersigned be informed accordingly alongwith a copy of the Stay Order by the aforesaid date positively. (Perhaps to intimate the party that your last resort is Court only).
To be contd.)CommentQuote0Flag
- They were expecting my personal appearance with folded hands at the appointed date and time. I received the letter on 9/2/2001. I send a handwritten reply by Regd. Post the next day. The text of the letter is reproduced below:
The explanation reg. outstanding arrears is given below:
1. Arrears. There is no arrears o/s against me. I had received a notice (dated nil) during January 2000 for which I had explained why the amount is not payable by me on my letter dated 18-1-2000. You had approved it as sufficient cause for not proceeding with the matter. Now after one year fresh arrears can't come from out of the blue.
2.Current Demand. I had explained in my previous letters dated ( 5 dates) why I am not prepared to pay 4 times the tax my neighbors are paying. ...............
If you are satisfied with the above explanation, next year when you issue the notice delete the arrears column. If you are not satisfied, inform me the same with reasons therefore.
P.S: If you are not having any of my previous letters, the copy of the same will be supplied on demand.
I had also added the following text in the margin of the paper:
Don't be too harsh when sending letters to Tax payers. Your salary is coming out of the tax payed by them - don't be too bossy with them.
- Sorry for the delay in completing the story.
The story continued for some more years. Every year they will send 2 threatening letters. First one small threat and the second one the big threat. They were expecting me to go to court or at least go to their higher Officer with an appeal or complaint which I though will not be an intelligent step. I will not say it was an easy decision. My wife was scared that she discussed the matter with my parents and relatives. They all advised me to find some ways to settle the matter. The phrase "coercive measures" reminded us of the scenes in the old movies where furniture and other utensils are thrown out of a house when wailing family members were watching. I didn't know anybody experienced who could offer sound advice in the matter. Somebody told me that in the case of coercive measures, the first measure could be attachment of your bank account.
One day I happened to discuss the matter with one of my colleagues whose wife happens to work in MCD. He told me that it would be wise to try to end the matter and he will try to help me through his wife's contacts. I reached MCD along with my friend one day. A new Assistant/Deputy Assessor was in position who was suave. He told me that the earlier Inspector(his subordinate who visits the houses) is retired and he is not aware of what transpired between me and him. He called for the file. I noticed that none of my communications contesting their claim was in the file. He informed me that for reviewing my case I need to deposit at least 50% of the demand claimed by MCD. The MCD will refund the excess amount if the final amount arrived at is less than that. The Govt. may be patient in settling the account, but the dues to the Govt. are always paid invariably. I told him that I am not planning to pay the dues on my own, but if they feel that the claim of MCD is correct they can confiscate the money lying in my Bank Account and I will try to find out how the figures were arrived at later on. I was counting on the fact that to initiate coercive measures they will be required to take permission from their Senior Officials and they will be required to show the communications received from me. At any cost, the higher Officials will be required to look at the tax of similarly placed properties. (In almost all the properties which changed hand, or made some extra constructions they used to raise exorbitant demand and later on reduce it based on the bribe)
On the start of the system of Self Assessment of Property they have deleted the entire arrears and I started paying new tax which is still around Rs.1500/- even after 2 or 3 revisions.CommentQuote0Flag
- Hey Counterfeit; This is interesting! Must read! :)CommentQuote0Flag
- Thanks Malvish. Glad to know that somebody is reading.
In 1982, a political film was released in my regional language which become a hit. It was dealing with the various ills of the society as a whole and trying to look at the issues and the possible solutions in a balanced manner. The notable feature of the film - when we compare it with the current set of films, was the reluctance of the film maker to portray the characters in complete black and white. Even the perpetrators of an illegal liquor tragedy is shown as ordinary human beings with positive and negative qualities associated with it.
One year later, a Hindi film "Ardha Satya" was released which showed the Criminal, Politician and their nexus. Everybody was portrayed in extreme colours. The politician and his associates were villains. The ordinary man/honest civil servant was helpless. To take on them, one needs to have extreme courage and the willingness to risk everything. I have also very much enjoyed the film. The film encouraged a spate of films on the similar fashion. Recently (may be 4 or 5 years back), I had read an interview given by Mr.Govind Nihlani - the maker of the film. He had stated that he had given the Title Ärdha Satya" since what was portrayed in the film was not complete Satya, but conveniently twisted facts in order to make an entertaining movie. If he had made the film in a no nonsense manner, it would not have got the kind of box office collection it got all over India (my comment).
Unfortunately, Ardha Satya is more convenient to act upon than complete truth. If all the evils in this world are coming from a set of bad people who are well organised, there is no chance left for ordinary citizens who is not that courageous, not that resourceful, has a daily grind to attend to. All he had to do is vote once in 5 years, pay taxes, pray for good days or complain and generally be a responsible(?)citizen of the country. Apart from this a lot of them are prepared to die for their country if at all they are presented with such an opportunity.
The sad fact is "Ardha Satya' is only half truth which conveniently allow you escape from the complete truth. The truth is that, the greater evils of this world are committed by people with active and passive connivance of ordinary people. For one man committing an offence, there are hundreds or thousands of passive associates who themselves would not have committed that crime in the first instance (I hope to elaborate on it later).
To be continued...)CommentQuote0Flag
- Most of us will be reluctant to offer a lift in our vehicle to an unknown person. But if somebody is our neighbor, perhaps we would not have no issue doing the same. On the wake of the imminent measures to control pollution in Delhi, I have an idea which I think if all of us takes up some initiative is workable - for the benefit of all. I am planning to bring out a one page notice - the text of which is reproduced below - which I intend to place on the windshield of all the vehicles in our colony on Sunday morning.
Most of us regularly travel to our place of work in our vehicles alone. Sometimes we are willing to take our friends or neighbours along with us if we know that they are also going to the same direction. However, even when we know that we have got a number of neighbours going to the same direction we are not able to develop a routine in which we can adjust more people in our car. The reasons are many. Sometimes we are unable to stick to a time schedule enabling others to depend on us. Sometimes people do not like getting obliged to others. But we will all agree that we are at a stage in which we have to change ourselves for our greater common good.
Let us make a start in the new direction. Are you prepared to accommodate your neighbour in your car? Alternatively, are you willing to give your vehicle rest and accommodate yourself in your neighbour’s car? I request all willing residents who regularly/ occasionally take their car to their office to give their car No., Make (Model) and colour and approximate departure time to office. You can sms or mail the details to me which can be circulated to all residents later on. I am a resident of your colony working in xxxxxxxxxx. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Mob: xxxxxxx.
The residents who wish to go along with them can wait near the exit gate of the colony (with their I card in their hand initially) and look for the vehicles going in their direction. In this manner there will be flexibility for all with respect to the timings and the vehicles one travels. There should be a fare – which should be seen as a sharing of expenditure only and should be collected compulsorily so that no obligation is felt on the part of the participants. If any of the car owners feel that they are not prepared to collect money from their neighbours, they can give it away to their favourite charity/religious cause or they can place a charity box in the car to collect the fare.
I feel that the fare should be comparable to the A/c Bus fare for the trip for example the fare to office complexes in xxxxxxx can be Rs.20/- (suggestions welcome).
Request all residents to come forward and join hands for a better Delhi.