Bombay HC junks property tax hike levied by Chandrapur civic body

CHANDRAPUR: The Nagpur bench of Bombay high court on Wednesday quashed the property tax hike levied on the citizens by Chandrapur Municipal Corporation (CMC) with effect from 2016-17.

Interestingly, the hike was effected by the CMC in complete contrast to its earlier resolution of not increasing the tax beyond 40% of the previous year’s tax. The CMC had hiked the tax between 500% and 1000% on over 80,000 properties. More than 36,000 objections were raised challenging the hike, but those were disposed of hurriedly.

The HC division bench of Justice Zaka Haq and Justice SM Modak pronounced the decision on a writ petition filed by Sushilaben Patel and Pankaj Tiwari, on behalf of citizens of Chandrapur.

The petitioners’ counsel Mohit Khajanchi claimed the court has quashed all demand notes issued by the CMC as well as bills of property tax of all the citizens who had raised objection under rule 15 of the taxation rules. The CMC has been directed to adopt fresh procedure and serve revised demand to all property holders, he added.

The HC has also granted liberty to all citizens, who feel aggrieved by the fresh tax demand notes, to file appeal under Section 406 of Maharashtra Municipal Corporation Act with senior division civil judge.

Chandrapur had witnessed massive agitation in the early months of 2016 following manifold hike in the property tax. Former Congress MP Naresh Puglia, who had staged hunger strike for 13 days demanding roll back, said, “It is a welcome decision and court has substantiated our opposition to the outrageous hike.”

CMC commissioner Sanjay Kakade, however, claimed the HC order pertains only to the petitioners and few others who had raised objections. “The order is to serve fresh notices to those who had filed complaints. It involves only the petitioners and 10-15 others,” said Kakade, adding the order is not applicable to 36,000 property holders.

Khajanchi said one of the major grounds before the court was that many citizens had filed complaints under rule 15 of taxation rule. CMC objected saying the petition filed by two persons in collective capacity on behalf of all citizens is not maintainable. He also claimed that as per rule 15, it is mandatory for the corporation to take decision on all the objections after hearing the property holders. But in this case, 3,000 to 4,000 hearings were scheduled on a single day. It is humanely impossible to hear so many grievances in a day, he pointed out.

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