The Himachal Pradesh High Court on Thursday directed the Shimla district collector and tehsildar (recovery) to furnish details on the amount of house taxes collected from city residents as also the action taken to recover land revenue arrears. A division bench comprising chief justice Mansoor Ahmad Mir and justice VK Sharma passed the order on a petition taken up suo moto by the court following a newspaper report on the municipal corporation's failure to collect house taxes.
During the previous hearing, the civic body had filed an affidavit informing the court it had raised a demand of house tax for fiscal 2012-13 on the old pattern and had recovered 85.82 per cent of the total outstanding dues. The MC also submitted before the court it had taken action against house tax defaulters prior to 2012 by declaring arrears of house taxes as arrears of land revenue or by passing attachment of rent orders.
A special house of the corporation had resolved to invite the public's views before finalising the proposed draft bylaws on levy of taxes based on the unit area method.
A Public hearing was held on January 17 and 18 and a special MC house meeting on the issue was convened on January 22 this year, which resolved that the tax system should be reasonable and there should be a provision for exemption for certain categories like agricultural land, area classified as green belt, single women, widows and senior citizens above 80 years. The matter was then referred to the state government for revising the existing provisions of the unit area method by again amending the HP Municipal Corporation Act, 1994, which is pending before the government.
The court also asked the municipal corporation to file a fresh affidavit before the next hearing, specifying the amount of house taxes collected during the 2013-14 financial year and the arrears yet to be recovered. The court posted the matter for further hearing on July 10.