The government policy of allowing 100 percent house tax exemption to retired government employees for one house in any one of the cantonments is commendable. But in order to utilise this service, pensioners are required to submit a complex certificate – two documents attested by Gazetted Officer and an affidavit signed by a Class 1 Magistrate – to establish their credibility every year. This is an example of typical bureaucratic culture which was inherited from the British colonial rulers to treat local citizens as untrustworthy. Generally, those in authority cannot visualise the hardships pensioners go through in order to prepare the required documents.
This procedure makes little sense as pensioners cannot commit fraud and evade the penalty of the Cantonment Board before the matter is taken up further. It is also pertinent to mention that the Modi government restored the dignity of Indian citizens in May 2014 by abolishing the attestations by Gazetted Officers and permitting self-attestations. Senior citizens must be treated with respect and a signed certificate, a copy of the CNIC and a bank pension certificate should be adequate proof for pensioners to utilise the government facility.
M Akram Niazi