PMO Cheque bounces...what about my refund voucher ?
Before the introduction of VAT in AP, on 1st April 2005, there was a Act called APGST Act.
For the Financial year 2004-05, the last year of the APGST regime, our CTO completed the assessment on 19th July 2005 and as a consequent also attached a "C" Note for Rs. 4142.00 since we had paid excess tax.
My accountant made several trips to apply for and get a refund voucher which is normally issued for claiming refund through a bank. He gave up. Subsequently I made several trips to CTO to get the Refund Voucher but was always told that "there are some internal problems". Well, after 16 months of visits, I could finally extract the Refund Voucher for Rs. 4142.00 dated 15th November 2006.
I was overjoyed. It was the first time in my life I was getting a refund (I had never heard about the RTI Act 2005 till then). The sense of elation lasted for barely 12 minutes. It took that much time to drive to the Bank and be told "Sorry, we cannot honour this Refund Voucher because no such account exists".
I consulted many people and everyone said you cannot do anything because a Refund Voucher is not a Negotiable Instrument. One lawyer suggested that I could possibly use Section 420 ! I held my head between my hands in amazement...How could I ever take the Treasury to court under Section 420 ?
32 visits were made to Joint Commissioner (Audit). I met him 14 times and the other 18 times, either he was out of office or having lunch or in a meeting etc. (Don't count these visits in conjunction with my other 137 visits in relation to another matter). Answer was "come next week".
Then, I became aware about RTI on 21st March 2007. I filed a application asking for various information. In reply (received within 30 days) I received a letter which I will retain for the rest of my life. Even a 1 hour old member of this forum can give a better reply.
I appealed under the grounds of "incomplete, false and misleading" information. This time the reply was from the Commissioner herself (a recent occupant of the post). I will retain that reply too, for the rest of my life. It is the most transparent, clear, unambiguous, easily understandable and well explained reply that I have ever received from a Officer.
One part clearly said: "The account became in operational w.e.f. 1.4.2005, on technical grounds.............."
That means the Government issued us a Refund Voucher on a account which was closed even before our assessment was complete !
Although, there were several technical grounds on which I could still go for 2nd appeal to SIC (by then I was a mini master on the RTI ACT), I chose not to proceed because I was satisfied with the information given to me by the Commissioner. (look, I use the ACT judiciously)
Finally Rs. 4142.00 were credited to our account on 14 May 2007. A full 23 months after the issue of C Note.
Although, the amount of interest, which I could claim was very small (about Rs 600 or so), I wanted to follow it up as a matter of "principle". A legal notice was sent to the CTO on 1st June 2007. There is no reply to date.
What do I do now ? Can RTI help me ? Is there any other way to claim interest ?
This is the first time, in my 435th post on this forum, I am asking for help for my own case, from members.
Can any Lawyer, Banker, Officer (especially from Income Tax or Commercial Tax), guide me please ?