Mamata Banerjee called the implementation of GST 'another epic blunder of the Centre'. Photograph: (Facebook)
The West Bengal chief minister remarked that under the current VAT regime, 'the field officials of the State do not have the power to arrest'
Hours ahead of the roll-out of the Goods and Services Tax (GST), West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday drew attention to a "draconian arrest clause in the GST rules" and said it could be misused by the Centre and lead to harrassment of small and medium businessmen, especially since some sections were non bailable.
"I am shocked to find that the GST rules contain a rather draconian arrest clause which can lead to major harassment of business, particularly the small and medium, with some sections even being non-bailable too," Mamata Banerjee said in a Facebook post.
The West Bengal chief minister remarked 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 a FIR and pursue the due process of law," she said.
"But in the case of GST, the Inspectors will have the power to arrest on 4 different types of offences which can lead to jail from 1 year upto 5 years," she added.
The Trinamool Congress chief said that the West Bengal government had opposed the clause but the federal government did not pay any heed.
"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," she said.
The GST, which is slated to roll out today midnight, will bring the Indian economy under a single tax bracket.