Bombay HC Imposes Cost Of Rs.25,000 On Petitioner Challenging Municipal Tax On Mobile Towers, Dismisses Petition [Read Judgment]
The Bombay High Court recently imposed a cost of Rs.25,000 on GTL Infrastructure Limited, a petitioner challenging demand notices issued with respect to municipal taxes on mobile towers.
Justice RK Deshpande and Justice SM Modak of the Nagpur bench took exception to the fact that the petitioner was "fully aware" of the Supreme Court judgment that dealt with the same issue, as GTL Infra was one of the respondents in the matter before the SC.
Advocate JB Kasat appeared on behalf of the Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC) and the Assessor and Collector of Taxes Assessment and Collection Department, NMC.
He submitted that the said petition must be dismissed as the issue involved is covered by the decision of the apex court in the case of Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation vs GTL Infrastructure Limited and Ors. Subsequently, the said decision has been followed by the high court in two separate judgment, Kasat said.
Petitioner's counsel PA Abhyankar argued that the said decision of the apex court is on the provisions of the Gujarat Provincial Municipal Corporation Act and, therefore, it is not applicable to the cases under the Maharashtra Municipal Corporation Act, 1949.
Furthermore, Abhyankar referred to the definition of 'Mobile Tower' under Section 2(34¬AA), Section 127 (1)(c) and Section 145¬A of the Gujarat Provincial Municipal Corporation Act, 1949 and submitted that these provisions are not incorporated either under the Bombay Provincial Municipal Corporation Act or the City of Nagpur Corporation Act or the Maharashtra Municipal Corporation Act.
The high court examined the said decision of the apex court and said-
"Bare perusal of the law laid down by the Hon'ble Apex Court clearly shows that incorporation of Section 145¬A of the Gujarat Provincial Municipal Corporation Act, clearly indicates that it is the occupier and not the owner of the land and building, who is liable to pay the tax. The provisions of Section 2(34¬AA), Section 127 (1)(c) and Section 145¬A in the Gujarat Provincial Municipal Corporation Act, and its absence in the Bombay Provincial Municipal Corporation Act, or the City of Nagpur Corporation Act or the Maharashtra Municipal Corporation Act, in our view would not make the ratio of the decision of the Hon'ble Apex Court inapplicable to the present case. The matter is fully covered and is required to be dismissed."
Thus, the petition was dismissed and a cost of Rs. 25,000 was imposed on the petitioner, as the court said: "In spite of knowing fully well that the matter is covered by the judgment delivered by the Apex Court, the petitioner insisted that without recording concession, the matter be disposed of. It cannot be done without considering the grounds raised and decided. We were constrained to spend time which we could have utilised for dealing with important and urgent matters of medical admissions. The Writ Petition is therefore dismissed with costs of Rs. 25,000/- to be paid to the High Court Bar Association at Nagpur."