Miffed by the laws which stopped him from driving freely in his own country, Waseem started an initiative to enable people to drive without borders. He even quit his job to fight for the cause. Know more about him.
Waseem Memon seems like a regular family guy with a transferrable job. From Hubli to Hyderabad, then Mumbai to Delhi, again back to Hyderabad and finally settled in Bengaluru, Waseem spent a large amount of his time relocating.
You might wonder why are we discussing Waseem’s travel itinerary here? But what is to follow after this can potentially bring great relief to thousands of people with a vehicle in India.
Everywhere Waseem went, he bought a new car with the registration number of that particular state. Imagine the plight of buying a new car and selling the old one every time you move to a different state?
So when finally Waseem came back to Bangalore, he decided, “No more.”
“Especially my jeep – my kids have grown up in it. We have an emotional connection with that. They’ll not let me sell that,” he says.
Waseem wrote a letter to the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways about the law which requires a vehicle registered outside Karnataka to pay a lifetime tax levied by the government.
As per the amendment to the Karnataka Motor Vehicles Taxation (Amendment) Act 2014 on February 28, 2014, any vehicle plying in Karnataka for more than 30 days has to pay the lifetime tax levied by the State Government. At the same time, the central motor vehicles rules say that any vehicle plying continuously in another state should be registered in 11 months.
“This being a Central Act, an amendment to it requires the President’s assent. But the new law was amended and passed only with the approval of the Governor,” says Waseem.
Miffed by the law, Waseem decided to bring together like-minded people who would come forward and challenge the amendment. Having started with three members in July 2014, the group now has 25,000 people who are supporting Waseem in his struggle.
“Once I buy a vehicle and pay the tax, I should be able to ply anywhere in the country. Today, it is like getting deported in your own country. We need freedom of movement,” says Waseem.
Waseem, who started this initiative as a one-man army, has now become the voice of thousands of people who are facing a similar issue. Some of them are students who are in the state for a study course, some are on a business trip which might last just a few months while some others are on short-term internships. The reasons and time span of staying in Karnataka might be different, but troubles faced by people are the same.
To add to this, once lifetime tax is paid in a new state, it becomes extremely difficult to get a refund.
“I can’t go to different states and submit lifetime tax everywhere without expecting to get it back. And once I have paid LTT in one state, I should be able to ply anywhere in the country,” says Ankush Bhandari, a Chartered Accountant who recently shifted to Bengaluru.
Waseem has formed a strong group of over 25,00o people to protest against the atrocities meted out by Karnatata Road Transport officials while checking Non-Karnataka Vehicles in Bangalore.
They also filed a petition in the High Court of Karnataka against the recent MV Taxation Amendment and had received a stay order on this MV amendment which recently got vacated. The stay was just a temporary victory for the group.
Similarly Telengana Road Transport Authority officials dictate that a Non/AP-TS vehicle has to pay LTT in 30 days without any amendment and have been harassing travelers and have seized countless Non AP/TS vehicles. Waseem had also filed a petition in Hyderabad High Court which then asked the Telengana Road Transport Authority officials not to trouble Non/AP-TS vehicle owners.
As most of Waseem’s time was being spent in meeting lawyers and talking to government officials, he quit his job to take up this issue full time.
“My wife was not very happy with this. But she has made peace with it now. I have decided to finally get the issue solved for myself and all of us who have been facing this. This is no more my individual mission,” he says.
He has also formed a Facebook group Drive Without Borders to protest against the atrocities meted out by Road Transport officials of various states while checking Non-State Vehicles. The group got over 17,000 members within just three months of its launch.
To speed up the process and get the issue noticed by the government, Waseem and his team filed a petition which generated over 55,000 signatures from the public in less than four weeks. The petition was submitted to Nitin Gadkari for further action.
“These state amendments are against the freedom of movement which our constitution guarantees and are also against the spirit of the constitution’s provisions and federal principles,” he says.
From getting threat calls to spending hours with government officials and giving up on his regular nine-to-five job, Waseem’s life has changed drastically in the past one year. But he says he won’t rest until he gets the work done.
To know more about his work and initiative Drive Without Borders, contact him at their Facebook Page.
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