I’ve been receiving multiple messages and mails on the subject of Toll Tax exemption.
Apparently, the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways (MoRTH) has issued a Circular stating that serving Military personnel would not be eligible for toll exemption in their private vehicles.
Needless to state, this circular issued by the MoRTH is in contravention of the provisions of the Indian Tolls (Army & Air Force) Act, 1901, and also against the clarification issued by the same Ministry in the year 2003 in consequence of a case filed by me wherein the following was ordained by the said Ministry, in consultation with the Ministry of Law & Justice:
“The matter was referred to Ministry of Law. Ministry of Law and Justice have indicated that Indian Tolls (Army and Air Force) Act 1901 is a special Act which overrides general acts such as National Highways Act, 1956 and private vehicles of the officers, soldiers and airmen of regular forces are exempted from paying toll irrespective of whether they are on duty or not.”
The above was followed by multiple clarifications and letters by various agencies on the subject.
The same Ministry of Road Transport and Highways had later also issued Letter No NH-11065/12/2003-P&M dated 15 Sept 04 to National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) vide paragraph 1 of which it had clearly stated that private vehicles of defence personnel shall be exempted. The subject line of the letter also indicated that all categories of exemption under Section 3 of the Indian Tolls (Army & Air Force) Act, 1901, would fall under the definition of ‘defence vehicles’ which is an exemption term usually used on National Highways.
Toll exemption to private vehicles of defence personnel was challenged till the Supreme Court but the provisions for exemption to private vehicles ofserving personnel of the defence services were upheld.
The subject was also adequately clarified on this blog through this blogpost.
Although I do appreciate the concern of all of you, especially serving personnel, on the subject and the anxiety in consequence of this latest illegally issued letter, but I would rather request you to look towards the Services Headquarters for resolution of your grievances.
I say so since I had communicated all material on the subject to all concerned including the Chief of the Army Staff, The Vice Chief, the Adjutant General and the Additional Director General Movement vide a detailed letter (Nav/Toll/Mov/2) in the year 2008 with fourteen annexures and the said authorities are now well equipped to take up cudgels for our men and women in uniform since they have the material to do so. In any case, it is the job of the three services to look after the interests of its personnel.
It is not that I do not empathize with the subject, but the last few years have resulted in an extreme form of dissatisfaction when I have discovered that while we keep fighting for the rights of our service-members and veterans, many of those in uniform tasked with protecting those very rights, incorrigibly stand in opposition of these causes. Believe me, it is a sad sight to see officers in uniform taking stands opposite of what we all stand for- justice and welfare for the military community, restoration of status, rights and privileges of our serving personnel. Yes, it is distressing and disheartening to see uniformed officers take hyper-technical objections and laugh and chuckle and rejoice on dismissal of rightful and genuine claims of soldiers, disabled veterans and widows in Courts forgetting that their prime duty is to assist the Courts or the system at arriving at justice and not to bludgeon the prayers of such people by hook or crook.
If some serving personnel of today are not wanting to reclaim their rights or to live a life of dignity with their equitable benefits guaranteed by law after retirement, if they want to only file appeals against decisions of Courts rendered in their favour rather than sounding the clarion call for change of anomalous and unjust policies, if they want to celebrate their own defeat, so be it.
It is tiresome to bang one’s head against a barricade that divides the just from the unjust.