Vehicle-or-machine row is now worth crores

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Is a container loader, used in loading and unloading containers from trailers, a vehicle or an equipment?

This dispute between the Motor Vehicle Department (MVD) and the Kerala State Industrial Enterprises Limited (KSIE), is worth crores now. While the KSIE maintains that it is just an equipment and won’t come under the vehicle classification, the MVD argues that machines with tyres running inside factory premises are also vehicles and need to register and pay tax in the non-transport category.

Now the MVD has found out that at least 25 such container loaders were being used by private parties in various parts of the state, including the Vallarpadam Container Terminal.

“A single container loader costs Rs2 crore and needs to remit Rs25 lakh as tax on registration. If the KSIE, also a government agency, agrees to register it under the non-transport category, we could initiate similar proceedings against the private users and collect crores of revenue to the government exchequer”, an MVD official said.

He also said that a chargesheet on the basis of an earlier HC order had been sent to KSIC asking it to pay Rs25 lakh as tax. “The order clearly states that machines with tyres running inside factory premises are also vehicles”, he said. However, the KSIE, a holding company of the state industries department, is in no mood to let up.

“The maximum width mentioned under the provisions to consider it as a vehicle is 2.6 meters while that of the container loader comes to around four metres. So it cannot come under the category.”, KSIE general manager G.M. Josemon said.

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