The Kerala High Court on Wednesday struck down as unconstitutional the state government's decision to levy a cess on weddings and receptions held at auditoriums and hotels of three star category and above. Allowing a batch of petitions filed by owners of auditoriums of Kollam and Kasaragod districts, Justice K Vinod Chandran observed that the levy known as ' Mangalya Nidhi' was not a fee and could only be treated as tax. The court held that the legislation was ultra vires of the powers of the state legislature as conferred by the Constitution and the state has 'no right to levy and collect the cess'. The petitioners had submitted that it was a tax on marriage for which the state legislature had no jurisdiction.
The cess would offend the practising religion as the functions related to marriages were part of religious ceremonies. Kerala Finance Minister K M Mani had in the 2013 budget introduced the three per cent cess on the expenses related to celebrations held in connection with weddings.
The government stated that funds generated from the cess would be used for providing financial help to those belonging to poor families to conduct weddings.