Tightening its noose around house tax defaulters for not complying with notices issued by Patiala Municipal Corporation (PMC) to pay pending house tax arrears, the civic body sealed five commercial establishments in different areas on Tuesday.
However, Rajindra Gymkhana Club was exempt from PMC's action, raising eyebrows in this matter. The authorities have given the club management a 24-hour deadline to settle dues, which amounts to `78 lakh. The club has not paid house tax returns for more than 15 years now.
The corporation has issued notices to defaulters under section 138 of the Act, which carries the provision of attaching movable and immovable property of defaulters and the same can be auctioned as per rules. Defaulters were given a 10-day ultimatum for settling arrears but failed to do so.
The civic body's teams sealed two commercial units in SST Nagar, one at Gurdarshan Nagar, Sirhindi Bazaar and Delhi Plaza on Rajbaha road.
Indeed, PMC's action reaped good results as three of the sealed units agreed to pay arrears within a few minutes after sealing. However, PMC has also written to the Punjab finance department to freeze bank accounts of public departments, who are listed as defaulters.
Joint commissioner Nazar Singh said one of the units at SST Nagar and Sirhindi Gate had deposited arrears of Rs 87,000 and Rs 2.5 lakh, respectively. Moreover, authorities at Delhi Plaza, who owed `30 lakh, had issued two post-dated cheques of `7.5 lakh each and another of `15 lakh, in the name of corporation.
"Following payment, we have opened these establishments, while the remaining units have been asked to pay up too, otherwise their properties will be attached and auctioned accordingly," said Singh.
Meanwhile, Gymkhana Club lawyers were seen making rounds of PMC holding meetings with senior officials to buy some more time to deposit their arrears. The club management had also appealed to PMC commissioner Indu Malhotra to waive off the interest, but the latter asked them to pay their taxes by Wednesday up to 4pm.
"We have no authority to waive off the club's interest since the government has to take a final call on it. Moreover, in this case, interest is more than the principal amount," Singh added. The club has to pay `41 lakh as interest against the principal amount of Rs 37 lakh.
According to sources, eight government offices, including the Maharani Club, owe over Rs 1.4 crore out of a total amount of `3.7 crore as pending house tax arrears.
·Rajindra Gymkhana Club
·Two commercial units at SST Nagar
·One commercial unit at Gurdarshan Nagar
·One commercial unit at Sirhindi Bazaar
·Delhi Plaza on Rajbaha Road