Mamata Banerjee fears ‘inspector raj’ after GST as "arrest clause" comes into effect

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West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has expressed shock over a "draconian arrest clause" in the GST rules. She believes, the clause would be harmful for small businesses as that may lead to harassment by a section of officials.

On a Facebook post, Banerjee wrote, "I would like to point out that under the current VAT regime, the field officials of the State do not have the power to arrest. If they feel that there is a serious tax offence, then they will have to file an FIR and pursue the due process of law. But in the case of GST, the Inspectors will have the power to arrest on 4 different types of offences which can result in jail from 1 year upto 5 years."

"West Bengal opposed this arrest clause in the GST Council but the Government of India did not pay any heed. In fact, in the name of GST, they have deviated in many areas from the original intent," Mamata said.

"Given the atmosphere in the country of vindictively targeting anyone who dares to disagree with the Central Government, I am deeply concerned that the arrest clause in GST may well be used to target business leaders who raise their voice of dissent on any policy matter or any practices. I am afraid, from the midnight of today; will darkness loom large in the lives of entrepreneurs and common people?" Banerjee posted.

Bengal Chief Minister had earlier criticised the Centre's demonetisation move in November, which severely crippled the daily running of small businesses.

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