By : Mohan Verma
The High Court of H.P. today permitted the Shimla Municipal Corporation to recover house tax dues relating to financial year 2013-14 on old pattern. The court also directed the corporation to take steps to carry out requisite amendment in the bye-laws as early as possible.
A Division Bench comprising Acting Chief Justice Mansoor Ahmad Mir and Justice Tarlok Singh Chauhan passed these orders on an application of M.C. Shimla to permit it to raise bills of house tax for financial year 2013-14 on old pattern till the time the state government takes a final decision on the resolution dated 22.01.2014 of M.C. house. The petition regarding collection of house tax was taken up suo moto by the court on a news item regarding non-realization of house tax by the M.C., Shimla.
The corporation today filed an affidavit informing the court it had raised demand of house tax for the year 2012-13 on old pattern and had recovered 85.82% of the total dues. It also submitted before the court that corporation has taken action against tax defaulters prior to year 2012 by declaring arrears of taxes as arrears of land revenue or by passing attachment of rent orders.
In an earlier order dated 22.03.2013, the high court had directed the M.C., Shimla to collect house tax as per old system subject to determination of new system of levying tax, which was to be adjusted in case there is change in methodology of collection tax.
Further on 29.04.2013, the high court directed the MC to frame bye-laws in this regard forthwith.
The special house of the corporation had resolved to obtain views of general public by public hearing for decision on proposed draft bye-laws regarding levy of tax on Unit Area Method. Public hearing was held on 17th and 18th January and special meeting of the house on the subject was convened on 22.01.2014, which resolved that tax system should be reasonable and there should be provision of exemption for certain categories like agricultural land, area classified as green belt, for single ladies, widows, senior citizens above 80 years, property occupied for self-purposes. The matter was referred to the state government for amendment in existing provisions of Unit Area Tax method by re-amending the HP Municipal Corporation Act, 1994, which is pending before the state government.
The court also directed the corporation to file affidavit till next date indicating how much tax amount has been recovered during the financial year 2013-14 and as to what amount is yet to be recovered from the public as well as government departments.
The court fixed next date for hearing on July 3, 2014.