AIZAWL, Oct 24 - Activists of opposition Mizo National Front (MNF) today picketed the Land Revenue & Settlement office here, demanding reduction of stamp duty.
�As our repeated pleas to reduce the revenue stamp duty have fallen on the government�s dead ears, we have been compelled to picket the office,� MNF Youth Wing president K Vanlalvena said.
MNF activists went into the office and told the staff to leave.
The MNF had called two press conferences and its vigilance cell had last Tuesday submitted a memorandum to Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla demanding reduction of the stamp duty.
The Congress Government earlier this year passed the Indian Stamp (Mizoram Amendment) Act 2016, following which stamp duties were hiked from Rs 100 to Rs 2,000, Rs 500 to Rs 20,000, the MNF said.
�If your land settlement certificate is worth Rs 50 lakh, you will have to pay more than one lakh rupees as stamp duty and other taxes, in case of transfer of owner, sale of land, etc.,� Vanlalvena said, adding that this is a big burden for the people.
The MNF stated that such exorbitant hike of stamp duty is against the wishes of the Central Government.
�When the proposal for hiking the stamp duty came up in the State Assembly, the Revenue Minister said the purpose was to earn more revenue, which is against the instructions sent by the Union Minister for Urban Development Venkaiah Naidu to all States in July this year,� Vanlalvena said.
�Naidu said the stamp duty was originally collected to maintain the registers, now it has become a source of revenue. It is adding to the burden with a new Real Estate Regulation Bill where the rules are almost ready and will be announced any time,� Vanlalvena said.
The Indian Stamp Act 1899 that Mizoram inherited from the Assam Government was amended during the Congress rule in 1996 with proposals to hike the rate. The then Governor was reluctant to give his consent to the amendment, the MNF said.
�The MNF Government in 2007 made an amendment according to which stamp duty was collected at the rate of 0.5 per cent of the value of the land settlement certificate,� the MNF Youth president said.
The MNF has plan to continue the protest until the Congress Government reduces the stamp duty.
The State Government later today suspended the present rate of stamp duty until further orders and notified that the fee would be levied in accordance with previous rates.