Nagpur: The Nagpur Bench of the Bombay HC has allowed the NMC to levy license fees on advertisers who put up hoardings within the limits of the corporation.
Around 23 advertisers had defaulted on paying taxes of over Rs 12.82 crore to the civic body and had challenged the Nagpur Municipal Corporation’s decision to collect tax from them in the High Court.
A division bench of Justice AS Chandurkar and Justice MS Jawalkar has also amended its own ad hoc interim order and also allowed the Nagpur Municipal Corporation to recover the license fee.
Earlier, the court had directed Municipal Commissioner Radhakrishnan B to file an affidavit that if the petitioners were completely successful in their own challenge, as has been raised, Nagpur Municipal Corporation will refund the collected license fee in full.
Instead of clearing the dues, the advertisers have also approached the High Court challenging the fee levied by the civic body. Nagpur Municipal Corporation was also levying license fees completely compulsorily at the rates prescribed in the external advertisement policy year 2001.
The petitioners, mostly within the limits of the Corporation by erecting and operating sky signs, amenity hoardings, billboards, hoardings, kiosks, name boards, etc and were also engaged in the business of outdoor advertising by operating, he also argued that after the introduction of GST, Nagpur Municipal Corporation cannot impose a license fee on its businesses at all.
Terming the act of the Nagpur Municipal Corporation to levy the license fee as completely illegal, The petitioners have argued that in the year 2017, the state has enacted the Maharashtra GST related Laws (Savings, Amendment, and Verification) Act, 2017. In the said amended Act, the ‘tax’ on outdoor advertisements under section 105 (e) of the Maharashtra Municipal Councils, Nagar Panchayats and Industrial Townships Act, 1965 has also been removed.
NMC to collect the license fee
Yet despite this, the Nagpur Municipal Corporation was threatening the petitioners with action against them for non-payment of license fee at all and cancellation of permits.
The petitioners have further stated that the Nagpur Municipal Corporation has no right of any kind to do so. And because of this, he has also approached the High Court to permanently restrain the Nagpur Municipal Corporation from continuing its illegal and unjust profiteering.
Even before the GST regime, these same advertisers had defaulted to the tune of over Rs 2.77 crore and then after that, the dues from them were over Rs 12.82 crore.
Representing the Nagpur Municipal Corporation, Senior Advocate CS Kaptan fully justified the action of the civic body and also said that the MMC Act gives it full authority to levy the license fee.
Agreeing with all these submissions, the bench also gave full permission to the Nagpur Municipal Corporation to collect the license fee.
The petitioners were also represented by Willson T Mathew.
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