Times of India
05 September 2009
New Delhi, India
Apex Court Issues Notice to Govt
Banks and financial institutions have been pocketing an estimated Rs 724 crore annually by rounding up interest tax collections since 1993 despite a Supreme Court directive in 2004 that this money be used for creating a fund for implementation of the Disabilities Act to benefit disabled persons.
“Though a trust headed by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) was set up, it appears that apart from starting a scholarship scheme for disabled students envisaging a maximum expenditure of Rs 1 crore per year from August 2008, nothing further seems to have been done,” alleged a PIL in the Supreme Court on Friday.
Appearing for the petitioner, senior advocate Colin Gonsalves told a bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justices P Sathasivam and B S Chauhan that the total sum due from the banks was now to the tune of Rs 10,000 crore and if it was given, implementation of the Disabilities Act would not require state funding at all.
He showed the 2004 judgment of the apex court on this issue. This made the bench issue notice to the Centre. In 2004, the SC had directed: “Despite the progressive stance of the court and the initiatives taken by the government, the implementation of the Disabilities Act is far from being satisfactory. The disabled are victims of discrimination in spite of beneficial provisions of the Act.”
“We are therefore of the opinion that in the larger interest a fund for the aforementioned purpose be created with the amount at the hands of the Union of India and the appellants and other concerned banks, which may be managed by the CAG,” it had said.
“We would request the CAG to effect recoveries of all the excess amount realised by the Union of India by way of interest tax and interest by the banks and other financial institutions and create the corpus of such fund there from. The appellants and other concerned banks are also hereby directed to contribute to the extent of Rs 50 lakh each in the said fund,” the SC had said in its 2004 judgment.
Gonsalves said as against Rs 5,000–10,000 crore which ought to have been collected, the amount collected is approximately Rs 150 crore of which Rs 1 crore has been earmarked for a scholarship scheme for disabled students.