This is the story of an ex-serviceman who had to struggle with the civic authorities for 9 long years to get his due. Mr. PP Sebastian worked in the Indian Air Force and is now settled in Hyderabad. He had to run after the local municipal authorities for 9 long years to get his property tax exemption order.
The Background Story
Most state governments extend a variety of welfare measures for serving personnel and ex-servicemen. The erstwhile Andhra Pradesh Government also extended similar facilities to ex-servicemen. As per the orders of the erstwhile Andhra Pradesh State government, all serving army personnel and ex-servicemen/widows are exempted from paying property tax for any one house owned by them.
Application for exemption filed in 2006
Mr. Sebastian applied for property tax exemption in October 2006 in accordance to the Government Order. He submitted his application to Alwal Municipality, duly submitting all the required certificates. Instead of granting him exemption, the civic authorities kept sending him property tax bills. Moreover, the ex-serviceman received threatening calls to clear his dues
RTI to the Rescue
Meanwhile in 2007, the Alwal Municipality was merged into the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC). After repeated trials to know the status of his earlier application, Mr. Sebastian was exhausted and was resigned to his fate.
In early 2013, Mr. Sebastian came to know of Right to Information (RTI) through an awareness workshop. As soon as he realized its power, he filed an application under RTI with the GHMC authorities to know the status of his earlier request for property tax exemption.
After repeated follow-ups and intervention from the State Information Commission, the GHMC finally admitted that they had lost his application that was filed in 2006. They also requested Mr. Sebastian to submit all the documents once again to initiate further action.
Finally, after submitting the application once again, the GHMC issued the property tax exemption order in December 2015.
‘If not for RTI, I would not have got this exemption’
‘If not for RTI, I would not have got this exemption. Thanks for my living God who guided me to that workshop’, Mr. Sebastian said. He is now a contented individual who feels that every citizen should know and use RTI.