• Friday, June 21, 2024

News

India among embassies owing millions in London congestion charge

In response, foreign missions have consistently argued that the congestion charge is a form of tax, thus exempting them from payment under the Vienna Convention.

The congestion charge, a daily £15 fee for vehicles within central London, is part of the city’s measures to combat pollution. (Representational image from iStock)

By: Vivek Mishra

Transport for London (TfL) is actively pursuing several foreign embassies, including the High Commission of India in London, for not paying the city’s congestion charge spanning two decades.

The congestion charge, a daily £15 fee for vehicles within central London, is part of the city’s measures to combat pollution.

According to TfL, the American embassy holds the highest unpaid dues, totaling £14,645,025. Following closely behind is the Japanese Embassy, owing £10,073,988, and the Indian High Commission ranking third with a total of £8,551,835. The embassy of the Republic of Togo holds the lowest unpaid amount at just £40.

In response to TfL’s pursuit, foreign missions have consistently argued that the congestion charge is a form of tax, thus exempting them from payment under the Vienna Convention. This stance was reiterated by the High Commission of India in London in 2016, asserting, “We believe that the congestion charge imposed by the UK authorities is not a service charge but a tax, which should be exempt under the Vienna Convention.”

Similarly, the US embassy in London maintains its position, stating, “In accordance with international law as reflected in the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, our position is that the congestion charge is a tax from which diplomatic missions are exempt.”

Undeterred by diplomatic assertions, TfL, overseen by the mayor of London’s office, remains resolute in its pursuit of unpaid charges. TfL has signaled intentions to escalate the matter to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), a Hague-based United Nations court responsible for adjudicating disputes between nations.

In a statement accompanying a detailed list of outstanding fees and penalties owed by various diplomatic missions, TfL stated, “We and the UK government are clear that the Congestion Charge is a charge for a service and not a tax. This means that diplomats are not exempt from paying it.”

Despite the majority of embassies in London complying with payment obligations, TfL highlights a persistent minority that refuses to do so, despite diplomatic representations.

The transport authority vows to continue its pursuit of unpaid congestion charge fees and related penalties and advocates for the matter to be addressed at the International Court of Justice.

(PTI)

Related Stories

Videos

Mrunal Thakur on Dhamaka, experience of working with Kartik Aaryan,…
Nushrratt Bharuccha on Chhorii, pressure of comparison with Lapachhapi, upcoming…
Abhimanyu Dassani on Meenakshi Sundareshwar, how his mom Bhagyashree reacted…