The phone rang, it was my CA. As I hurriedly tried to come up with excuses to avoid the call; the 31st August deadline of paying my Income tax loomed right infront like a grim reaper and reluctantly I picked up the call. As expected, the amount of tax I was supposed to pay sounded like a death warrant. I run a small lawfirm, I have been paying my taxes since 2003, and yet, the government has decided to rob me off the small pennies I make. Why can’t I get a discount or better still a higher exemption or maybe a tax-holiday?
Moving on, I was wondering why am I paying income tax? I mean what is the purpose of Income Tax? Trying to remember my economics lessons from Class XI, I could recollect that since government doesn’t make money of their own (not literally but figuratively), therefore, they charge me and people like me, on whatever occasion they can find, so that my money goes to government and then to the ‘public-interest’ schemes and in that manner, in the coffers of the politicians who run the government. I mean it has been 70 plus years since our independence, and a lot of taxes must have been paid and collected and still the development in the country is at snail pace; please don’t consider me to be partisan here, I include all the governments (Central, State, UTs), past and present included.
So while sitting in the National Commission waiting for my matter to reach, I kept pondering on ‘deficiency of service’. If you have been to NCDRC, you would know the construction that has been done all across Kidwai Nagar. I have lived in South Ex for 22 years and I have seen this general area being converted from a beautiful green area to concrete jungle. The roads gave way to flyovers and then the metro and now multi-storied government housing societies.
Coming back to deficiency of service, what is startling is that the tax we have paid in past so many decades has not brought about much change in the country. Please don’t give me the ‘magic-wand-or-the-lack-of-it theory’, I seriously don’t buy it. Changing the name of Planning Commission to Niti Ayog or instituting five-year plans has only brought to the front the lackluster performance of all the governments. My hard earned money is taken every year and then I don’t even know the utilization of it or has it even brought about any qualitative difference in my life. The roads are still in bad shape, the fuel price is still soaring, eating out or eating in has only become expensive and to top it all, I still feel unsafe, very unsafe, in our country (No I am not doing any comparative analysis, all I am saying is that I felt safe in Ahmedabad but I feel really unsafe in many parts of the country).
I do know, however, that the Videshi holiday that I want has only converted into Videsh yatra for our ‘Pradhan Sewak’. Seriously, on a lighter note (pun intended), isn’t the videsh yatra our MEA’s job? And I know for a fact that she would have been amazing at it. I still remember when she was the Chief Minister of Delhi, she used to do these midnight surprise inspections quite frequently and I remember that she was one hell-of –an amazing administrator.
If you look at the whole ranting I have done thus far from legal point of view, when a service is found deficient we can file a complaint case under the Consumer Protection Act. The criteria for deficiency of service is fulfilled in all respect:
1. Service is made available to potential users,
2. Service provided is not free of charge,
3. There is an absence of contract of personal service.
Now if we examine the elements of ‘deficiency of service’, the act squarely applies because deficiency is defined as ‘fault, imperfection, shortcoming or inadequacy in quality, nature and manner of performance’.
One may ask that I am a lawyer so why is it that I don’t file a case against the government. Well, to be begin with, I still have to pay the taxes and in order to do so, I still have to earn my livelihood. Secondly, I think I am not ‘public-spirited’ enough to undertake a project such as this and lastly, lets just say, keeping up in spirit with my fellow countrymen and women, I am used to paying tax before the last date and cribbing about the deficiency, inefficiency and every thing else that’s wrong with our government for the rest of the year.
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