Car Registrations Spark Inquest
Taking note of reports that film actress Amala Paul had evaded tax to the tune of several lakhs of rupees by registering her luxury car in Puducherry by giving a local address and afterwards using the car in Kerala, Lieutenant Governor (L-G) Kiran Bedi directed Senior Superintendent of Police (Law and Order) to investigate the alleged fraud in registration.
“I have directed the Transport Secretary, Transport Commissioner and SSP to take it up as a white collar crime,” said Bedi, while addressing reporters in Raj Nivas on Monday.
Reportedly, the car (a Mercedes-Benz) worth Rs 1.12 crore, has a Puducherry registration and is being used in Kerala. The actress allegedly evaded the registration tax for Kerala and saved around Rs 20 lakh. While the registration cost of such a car in Kerala is close to Rs 20 lakh, it is Rs 1.12 lakh in Puducherry. “The address given for the registration is forged,” said Bedi. It is believed that the address of a person known to Amala or a person who is her relative was used to register the vehicle in Puducherry.
The L-G termed it a dishonest concealment, the transport officials are yet to name the persons involved or give a clear picture on whether the vehicle was purchase in the Union Territory or transported to Puducherry. If transported to Puducherry, the question of temporary registration would also arise.
“It has led to loss of revenue to Kerala and the Puducherry Transport Department authorities state that they know nothing about it... This must stop,” the L-G noted.
Stating that this might have been going on for a while, Bedi said whether it caused loss of revenue to Puducherry or another State, it was a revenue loss to the country. It corrupted the systems in place. More than revenue loss, forgery, impersonation and cheating were prima facie seen in this case. The actress might have availed of existing rates by fabricating records, she said.
The L-G directed the Transport Secretary and the Commissioner to take steps to ban such practices and take the parties involved to task. She also directed the officials to find out how many such cars from other states had been registered in Puducherry with fake residential addresses. “How many more film stars have bought cars here?” the L-G wondered.
She also questioned the low registration charges in Puducherry as compared to other States. The Union Territory has nearly 20 times lower registration charges as compared to Kerala.
Parliament’s Committee on Roads and Transport has directed the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA) to furnish it with the cost build-up of the Smart Drivers’ Licence which will be rolled out from Wednesday, 1 November.
This comes after some stakeholders kicked against the new driving licence which is aimed at weeding out fake licences from the system.
The new licences will also cut out middlemen, popularly known as ‘goro boys’, from the licensing regime by November 7, 2017.
Speaking to Class News after a meeting with officials of the DVLA, Chairman of the Committee, Samuel Ayeh-Paye said the committee will ensure that concerns of drivers and other stakeholder are addressed before the implementation.
“Once you’ve bagged that number plate – if it’s a good one it adds value to it. Some are iconic and will be sought after. Some of the best are simple but exquisite.”
The biggest went for £180,000 in May last year – for KR15 HNA – which was a new British record for the most expensive current style personalised registration plate.
Today, plates with just one number and two letters cost an estimated £60,000, 20 times more than the early 1990s, when drivers could expect to pay somewhere between £3,000 to £5,000.
A DVLA spokesman said: “Many people enjoy displaying a personalised registration number and the general sale and auctions remain extremely popular with the public.
“Since we began selling personalised registrations we have raised around £2.3 billion and all the money raised is passed to the Treasury.”
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