Assam police bust Mercedes trucks racket: Nab owners selling used vehicles for scrap to avoid road tax

The Assam police recovered 14 heavy trucks in the state's Tinsukhia district this week, and claimed to have busted a racket whereby unscrupulous vehicle owners evade taxes by selling off their automobiles as scrap to avoid paying dues to the government.

This little-known trick was uncovered by a team of the Assam police, which hit upon 14 trucks hidden inside a godown.

"We received information that these trucks, which were used as dumpers in the coal fields owned by Coal India Limited, were being sold as scrap. We launched an operation on Thursday and found that the vehicles had not paid road tax for many years," Mugdhajyoti Mahanta, superintendent of police, Tinisukia district, told Firstpost.

 Assam police bust Mercedes trucks racket: Nab owners selling used vehicles for scrap to avoid road tax

The trucks seized in Assam's Tinsukhia district. Image courtesy: Asomiya Pratidin

"We have handed over the trucks to the transport department. They are authorised to levy taxes and penalties on the vehicles," he added.

Out of the 14 vehicles, eight were manufactured by Mercedes and six were Volvo dumpers.

Bhaskar Saikia, officer-in-charge of Makum police station, which conducted the raid, said that all vehicles belonged to a company named Amarnath Earth Mining Pvt Ltd, which had been working as a contractor in the coal fields. The company was reportedly winding up its Assam operations.

JK Bora, general manager of Coal India's North East chapter denied the company's involvement with the vehicles. "The vehicles do not belong to Coal India. The company which owned them is based out of Gurgaon. Their contract with Coal India Ltd was over."

A tax official based out of Guwahati narrated the reason behind sending the vehicles to the scrapyard, "When a vehicle for industrial purpose is transported to one state, its owner has to pay a number of taxes, including road taxes to that particular state government. After few years' operations in the state, when they wind up business, the tax liabilities of these vehicles are checked at check posts at the state border on their way out. But instead of paying this sum, many owners consider selling the equipment as scrap."

This revelation is being seen as a tip of the iceberg of a major road tax evasion scam, as there could be a many more such vehicles which are being sent to the scrapyard to evade taxes.

Pradip Bordoloi, enforcement inspector in the transport department, spoke to Firstpost about the seizure. "We have received documents regarding eight vehicles till now. We are yet to receive papers pertaining to the other six," he said.

The amount of unpaid road tax by the company may run into crores, officials said.

Sources in the transport department said that every seized vehicle would have had to pay approximately Rs 2 lakh as annual road tax to the transport department, which was not done. Apart from recovering unpaid road tax, the department is entitled to impose a hefty penalty on the owners for non-payment of road tax for years as per the rules.

"We are still going through the documents seized from the vehicles. We are sure that road tax against the vehicles has not been paid for many years now," the source said.

He also said that all of the seized documents regarding the vehicles have expired in validity, as the company did not renew it timely.

Updated Date: Jun 17, 2017 15:10:55 IST