The Order from the Ministry of Defence has issued an order that immediately bans the collection of all transit charges through Cantonments, – once called octroi, then entry tax, then licence fee, then toll.
Nine years ago Dr.Nitin Khot and others fought with eight P.I.L.s in the High Court of Karnataka against this very pernicious charge – the collection of which causes immense daily hardship to people merely passing through Cantonments.
It has also resulted in bad traffic accidents, with loss of life. Also, there was no transparency in the collection of this revenue.
The order states –
Collection of Vehicle Entry Fee (VEF) by Cantonment Boards -Regarding —
1.It is observed that collection of Vehicle Entry Fee by Cantonment Boards by installing barricades / nakas / collection kiosks does not conform to the Government’s initiative towards smooth movement of goods and traffic, .and impedes the efforts towards the ease of living and ease of doing business.
2. It has, therefore, been decided that collection of Vehicle Entry Fee by Cantonment Boards be stopped forthwith. The mechanism for seeking proportionate share from the State Government agency / municipality out of any such similar fees being imposed by them on entry of vehicles centrally may be considered suitably.
3. It is requested to issue necessary instructions to Cantonment Boards to discontinue the collection of Vehicle Entry Fecs forthwith and compliance report be sent to the Ministry on immediate basis.
The Hon’ble High Court of Karnataka saw it the way that our Constitution has distinguished between a tax and a licence in that a licence has to have three distinguishing features –
(a) there should be a ‘quid pro quo’ between the giver and the receiver,
(b) the licence fee should not exceed the cost of giving the licence, and,
(c)that the fee collected should be kept in a separate account from the revenue account.
It banned the collection of any fees in Karnataka from vehicles passing through Cantonments.