Bombay high court says Nashik’s India Security Press doesn’t need to pay property tax
India Security Press had approached the HC challenging the Nashik civic body’s action of withdrawing the exemption granted to it from payment of property taxes with retrospective effect from the financial year 2008-09Updated: Jun 02, 2018 00:55 IST
In a relief for India Security Press at Nashik, the Bombay high court recently restrained the Nashik Municipal Corporation (NMC) from taking any further action to recover property tax from the currency printing press.
India Security Press had approached the high court challenging NMC’s action of withdrawing the exemption granted to it from payment of property taxes with retrospective effect from the financial year 2008-09.
India Security Press had been enjoying exemption from payment of property taxes, being a department of the Central government. On July 25, 2016 – after the press was brought under the umbrella of Security Printing and Minting Corporation of India Limited, a deputy commissioner of NMC withdrew the exemption from November 1, 2008. The exemption was withdrawn on the ground that India Security Press was no longer a Central government department, but had become a company.
Considering the nature of the dispute, the high court had referred the dispute to the Lok Adalat, which had in February 2018 directed the municipal commissioner to personally look into the grievance of India Security Press. Accordingly, the civic chief passed an order on April 19 and upheld the deputy municipal commissioner’s order imposing property tax on India Security Press.
NMC argued before high court that the security press was offering printing services to the government and various other entities like NMC and was therefore liable to pay taxes. It relied on the online profile of the Security Printing and Minting Corporation of India Limited in support of its contention that it was yet another company now.
The division bench of justices Abhay Oka and Riyaz Chagla, however, noticed that the very same profile revealed that the company was wholly owned by the Central government and it had nine units – four currency printing presses, four mints and a paper mill and it continued to manufacture security papers, mint coins, print currency and bank notes, non-judicial stamp papers, postage stamps, travel documents and so on.
The bench said that merely because the security press has now become a company owned by a Government of India, prima facie, it does not bring about any change of circumstance so as to revoke the earlier exemption from payment of property taxes. “Even assuming that if the petitioner press does certain other work for other government and public entities, that is no ground for withdrawing the exemption and that also with retrospective effect,” said the bench. “Prima facie, action of withdrawing exemption with retrospective effect is completely illegal,” it added.