JAMMU: The High Court of J&K and Ladakh on Wednesday put in abeyance the government notices for recovery the water tax-‘Aabiyana’ from the farmers of the union territory, 8 years after it abolished the said practice.
The government used to impose water tax called “Aabiyana” from the villagers for the water supplied through water canals, channels and distributries to the villages and lands for the farming and cultivation purposes. However, on March 22, 2015, the govt in its budget presentation had categorically abolished ‘Aabiyana” and the same was announced by the then Finance Minister of J&K on the floor of the house(s) of the legislature of J&K.
The decision was followed by official orders and communications stating that from 2015 onwards, the same would not be charged however the previous taxes pending are to be recovered.
A number of farmers from Dei Chak village in Jammu had moved the high court against the government decision to recover charge ‘Aabiyana’- the water irrigation tax, after they received the notices in November 2022.
The petitioners said that since 2015, the government did not demand the ‘aabiyana’ from farmers.
“Now suddenly we have received through Village Numberdars, a Notice of the Zilladar Irrigation demanding ‘aabiyana’ from 2015 onwards. We are being levied with Aabiyana from 2015 which means from last 8 years and the same is absolutely harsh, punitive and arbitrary.
“Any recovery of the aabiyana for which the Govt itself on the floor of the house had announced abolition is illegal and unconstitutional and thus the same is required to be quashed,” the petitioners submitted.
Justice Javed Iqbal Wani while hearing their plea, ordered to keep in abeyance the notices dated 12.11.2022 directing recovery of “aabiyana”.