The Himachal Pradesh high court on Wednesday permitted Shimla Municipal Corporation (SMC) to collect the house tax for the current financial year based on the old formula until the state government revised its rules.
The court ordered the corporation to take the necessary steps for the requisite amendment in the bylaws. A division bench comprising acting chief justice Mansoor Ahmad Mir and justice Tarlok Singh Chauhan also directed the MC to file affidavit by the next hearing about how much house tax it had recovered in the financial year what remained be realised from the public as well as the government departments.
The court also allowed the SMC application, in which it has sought permission to raise house-tax bills for the financial year 2013-14 on the old pattern until the state government took a final call on the MC resolution dated January 22, 2014.
The court took up the petition about the collection of house tax suo motu after a news report highlight non-realisation by the SMC. The corporation on Wednesday filed an affidavit to submit that it had raised house tax demand on the old pattern and recovered 85.82% of the dues, so far.
It also reported the action against defaulters before 2012 by either declaring outstanding dues as land revenue arrears or passing the attachment-of-rent orders. On March 22, 2013, the high court had directed the SMC to collect house tax as per the old system; and on April 29, 2013, directed it to frame bylaws in this regard.
The Special House of the corporation had resolved to seek public opinion on adopting the unit-area method of tax calculation. After a public hearing on January 17 and 18 this year, the House in a special meeting on the issue on January 22 resolved that the tax system be made reasonable. It also saw the need for exempting farmers, green-belt developers, single women, widows, senior citizens above 80, and owners of property occupied for self.
It referred the matter to the state government for new taxation formula by amending the HP Municipal Corporation Act of 1994. The matter is pending before the government. The next hearing is on July 3.