CBI probe push into cess scam

A public interest litigation (PIL) has been filed at Gauhati High Court seeking a CBI probe into alleged largescale evasion of cess, levied under the Assam Agricultural Produce Market Act, 1972, by a section of traders in collusion with some officials of the Assam State Agricultural Marketing Board.

By A STAFF REPORTER in Guwahati
  • Published 18.09.15
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Guwahati, Sept. 17: A public interest litigation (PIL) has been filed at Gauhati High Court seeking a CBI probe into alleged largescale evasion of cess, levied under the Assam Agricultural Produce Market Act, 1972, by a section of traders in collusion with some officials of the Assam State Agricultural Marketing Board.

The PIL, which was filed by Sudipa Goswami Konwar recently, claimed that the scam has caused huge loss to the tune of several hundred crores of rupees to the state exchequer.

The petitioner said according to information collected under the RTI Act, for a considerable period of time, there is no record of the quantity of the goods against which the board collected cess.

Senior advocate Bhaskar Dev Konwar represented the petitioner in the court. He said it was only the tip of the iceberg and a thorough investigation by an independent investigating agency would be able to identify the persons involved in the scam.

He said the case was registered as PIL number 44/2015 wherein the chief secretary of Assam, the secretary to the state agricultural department, the agricultural marketing board and Northeast Frontier Railway have been made respondents.

In response to the PIL, the division bench of acting Chief Justice K. Sreedhar Rao and Justice P.K Saikia has directed the respondents to file their response regarding the allegations made in the PIL.

In the PIL, it was stated that in the past three years there is misappropriation to the tune of Rs 300 crore. Agricultural produce are brought into Assam but Meghalaya and Nagaland were shown as destinations and in that manner payment of cess was evaded. "The quantity of agricultural produce unloaded at the railway freight yards here and transported by the traders is far higher than what is disclosed by the board. Similarly, the amount of cess shown to have been collected is far less than the actual amount collected or the traders have been allowed to evade in respect of the quantities of commodities which are not reflected in the report of the board," the advocate said.