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Stamp duty evasion case remains unresolved

More than five months after Hero MotoCorp approached the Board of Revenue in Uttarakhand to seek relief against a penalty of Rs 111 crore on alleged stamp duty evasion in the lease deed of its Haridwar manufacturing plant, the issue is still unresolved, said a senior government officials.

“The issue has not yet come before me,” said Additional Chief Secretary Rakesh Sharma, who is also heading the Board of Revenue. Earlier, the chief secretary used to head the Board of Revenue. However, Chief Minister Harish Rawat recently made Sharma as the chairman of the Board of Revenue. Sharma is also heading the department of industry in the state.

The chief minister had, in the past, repeatedly ruled out any relaxation in the penalty on Hero group by strongly defending the decision of the Haridwar district authorities. “The decision of Haridwar District Magistrate to impose penalty on Hero group stands,” the chief minister had told Business Standard a few months ago, when asked to comment on the status of the penalty. On the other hand, Chief Secretary N Ravishanker said he had no knowledge about the Hero group issue.

Last year, Hero MotoCorp was at the centre of a raging controversy in the hill state over the registration of the lease deed of its manufacturing plant at the 2006 circle rates, which had allegedly caused a stamp duty loss of Rs 254 crore to the state exchequer.

The company had registered the land deed of its 214-acre Haridwar industrial plot in February last year at the old circle rates of 2006 under an alleged relaxation given by the department of industry.

But, the alleged relaxation given to the company caused a revenue loss of Rs 254 crore to the state exchequer, Leader of the Opposition Ajay Bhatt had claimed.

Bhatt had also asked the government to go for fresh registration of the lease deed at the circle rates of 2014.

“The circle rates at Haridwar industrial estate in 2006 were Rs 1000 per sq metre. But now the circle rates have shot up in Haridwar industrial estate to Rs 3,800 per sq metre which creates a big difference in terms of stamp duty loss,” Bhatt had said.

But after the government came under fire, the Chief Minister asked the then Haridwar District Magistrate D Santhil Pandian to hold an inquiry into the Hero Motocorp case.

After holding the inquiry, Pandian imposed a penalty on Hero MotoCorp.

The company will have to pay a fine of Rs 111 crore , the chief minister had said. But this penalty is still not acceptable to the Opposition.

“The penalty of Rs 111 crore is still much less than the total loss of Rs 254 crore. We are demanding a CBI probe into the whole affair,” reiterated Bhatt.

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