The Himachal Pradesh High Court on Friday restrained the Shimla municipal corporation from levying green tax on vehicles registered outside the state, entering Shimla from four entry points at Totu, Tara Devi, Dhalli and Mehali.
A division bench, comprising acting chief justice RB Misra and justice Surinder Singh, said the tax could not be collected at this stage on the entry of vehicles in Shimla town without the permission of National Highway Authority.
“The barrier for collecting tax, levy by the respondent corporation on entry of vehicles in Shimla town, without the permission of National Highway Authority and in the absence of quid pro quo cannot be permitted at this stage,” the bench said.
“Till permission is obtained from the National Highway authorities and parking facilities are made available, no obstruction of any kind to collect green tax or levy will be made by the municipal corporation, forthwith,” the court said.
The court passed this order on a bunch of petitions challenging the green tax introduced by the MC on the vehicles registered outside the state on the ground that the same is collected without obtaining mandatory clearances from the National Highway Authority of India.
The petitioner further mentioned that SMC was not providing any facility on account of payment of green fee. It was contended that failure to provide adequate facilities at entry points, travellers to Shimla are facing great inconvenience due to illegal act of the corporation.
Newly erected barriers at the four entry points to Shimla for the collection of green tax are result in traffic jams, leaving the tourists and locals harassed every day.
The petitioners had contended that national highways were maintained entirely by the Centre at their own expenses.
The municipal corporation submitted that the fee is being collected in order to facilitate the tourists. It was contended that tourist are enjoying clean and green Shimla.
The MC added that levy of green fee is not a tax, but a fee to protect the green environment of Shimla.
The high court in its earlier order had directed to collect green fee at Manali and the local body at Manali is collecting the green fee.
The bench fixed the next date of hearing on March 25 and asked the respondents to file the reply.
The green tax was being charged at the rate of Rs. 100 for two-wheelers, Rs. 200 for cars and jeeps, Rs. 300 for mini-trucks and similar vehicles and Rs. 500 for trucks and buses at four entry points to generate revenue of Rs. 6-crore annually.