Nagaland group alleges extortion on highways

Kohima: The Nagaland Voluntary Consumers’ Organisation (NVCO) has sought clarification from the state government whether it has issued any order empowering Petroleum and Land Transport Workers’ Federation of India (PLTWFI) to collect cash from vehicles on the highways in the state.
PLTWFI Nagaland unit president Akheto Achumi had earlier refuted allegation of illegal collection of money on the highways, saying that it was in possession of ‘proper order’ from the state government to collect the money.
NVCO president Kezhokhoto Savi said the federation was making a mockery of the laws by claiming that it had signed MoUs with groups such as All Manipur Road Transport Drivers & Motor Workers Union and All Assam Truck Drivers Union to collect cash on highways across Nagaland.
The NVCO stated that in coordination with the All Manipur Transport Drivers & Motor Workers Union several pay-counters have been set up in Kohima District, and urged the state government to immediately stop the illegal activity.
Savi stated that PLTWFI is registered under the Registrar of Trade Union, Guwahati and legally it cannot operate in any other state except Assam.
The NVCO reminded that in the high level meeting under the chairmanship of then chief minister Neiphiu Rio on June 22, 2009, the state government had taken a decision that henceforth no collection of taxes shall be deone by any organisation or individual or including departments such as Police, Excise, Forest and Taxes.
The then chief secretary of Nagaland had issued a notification dated June 22, 2009 ordering that no collection of cash will be allowed in check-gates or in any part of the highway, and had further issued another order dated May 31, 2012 saying that no union or association or NGO connected with the welfare of transportation or with any business interest shall be allowed to operate any main office or sub-offices or information centre or welfare centre or kiosk or any other structure in the name of the organisations on state or national highways.
The NVCO also recalled that the then deputy commissioner of Dimapur on June 1, 2012 had issued a similar order asking all union or associations or NGOs or any other organisations connected with the welfare of transportations or with any other business interest who have set up their offices on the highways and market places to close down their business establishment on or before June 3, 2012.
The NVCO further stated that the PLTWFI had approached the Gauhati High Court Kohima Bench with three separate writ petitions in 2009, 2011 and 2012, respectively, and in a common judgment passed on June 3, 2014, Justice PK Saikia had dismissed all the writ petitions including others as the proceeding initiated by the petitioners were found to be without any merit.
The judge was of the view that the order issued by the state government had acted within the limits, fixed by law and as such these orders cannot be quashed and set aside as prayed for by PLTWFI.
The NVCO added that if the state government has not issued any new order, then the cash collection by PLTWFI remains an illegal affair. (UNI)

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