Two years after MCG discovered property tax fraud, police are yet to submit report
Even two years after it was discovered that two employees of the Municipal Corporation of Gurugram (MCG) had allegedly changed the property type of 95 commercial properties and taxed the owners under residential slabs instead, the Gurugram police are yet to complete their investigation on the issue.
The MCG failed to take action against one of the employees, due to lack of evidence, while the service of the other, a contractual employee, was terminated soon after the matter came to light.
MCG officials on Saturday said that the Gurugram police are yet to complete their probe and, as such, no action has been taken in the matter.
“The investigation of the Special Investigation Team (SIT) of the Gurugram police is presently underway. Only once their enquiry is over and a report is submitted, necessary action will be taken against officials, based on the available evidence,” said Dinesh Kumar, zonal taxation officer (ZTO), MCG.
Gurugram police officials said they are continuing their probe into the alleged anomalies.“An investigation is presently underway. Further details will be revealed only once the report is prepared,” said ACP (crime) Shamsher Singh.
The tax slab for commercial properties is, on an average, four times higher than that of residential properties. The action of the officials had reportedly caused the MCG an estimated loss of Rs 6 crore.
As per MCG officials, the two employees in question had floated a fake website through which they modified property tax records and also forged signatures of the MCG commissioner, the joint commissioner, and the zonal taxation officers to generate new property tax bills. The modification was made only after the owners of the 95 properties allegedly paid the officials some ransom.
While the modification was made over the course of 2016, the same was only discovered on August 17, 2017 during a routine MCG audit. Following the discovery, Urban Local Bodies (ULB) minister Kavita Jain had asked former MCG commissioner V Umashankar for a report on the matter.
Umashankar had sacked the contractual employee immediately. However, he could not take any action against the other staff member. The matter was then forwarded to the Gurugram police for further investigation, said officials.
“We did not have any documentary proof, apart from the statements of some of the property owners, who had modified their property type, and names of the two employees. While we had some evidence against the contractual employee there was none that could be furnished against the other employee during MCG’s own investigation. In our subsequent meetings, we apprised the Gurugram police officials, and SIT members of the statements of the property owners and also gave them their contact numbers and addresses for investigation,” said an official privy to the matter.
Following the discovery, the MCG had reissued the property tax bills to all the 95 owners and made the recovery of ₹6 crore in property taxes.
Last August, a committee of the Haryana Vidhan Sabha took cognisance of the issue and directed the Gurugram police to file a report on the progress of their probe. Following this, an SIT team was formed for probing the alleged act of corruption.
Property tax is the main source of revenue for the MCG. Before each annual budget, the expected recovery of Rs 200 crore is set aside. In the 2018-19 financial year, the MCG had collected Rs 196 crore through property tax. In 2017-18 financial year, it had collected a record property tax collection of Rs 342.24 crore.
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