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Airport Road cess under high court scanner

As per Punjab govt decision, a person having a plot along airport and new Chandigarh roads will have to pay ₹5 lakh per acre as tax

punjab Updated: Jan 31, 2018 12:09 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Airport Road,Mohali,New Chandigarh Road in Mullanpur
The government argued that it does not have funds to construct roads, hence a cess should be charged from colonisers. (HT File)

The Punjab and Haryana high court on Tuesday put Punjab government on notice and asked why its decision to collect road cess from developers along Airport Road in Mohali and New Chandigarh Road in Mullanpur should not be stayed.

The high court bench of justice AK Mittal and justice Anupinder Singh Grewal acted on a petition filed by Harman Sidhu, who heads NGO ArriveSafe, and one more person, both Mohali residents. They were asked to pay ₹74,000 by TDI Infratech Limited as road cess to be given to the Punjab government for a 10 marla plot purchased by them in Sector 117, Mohali.

The decision of levying the cess was taken at the 15th meeting of Greater Mohali Area Development Authority (GMADA) in May, 2013. The government has argued that it does not have sufficient funds to construct Airport Road and New Chandigarh Road, hence road cess should be charged from colonisers and residents for projects falling within 1km radius on either side of these two roads.

The owner of the plot will have to pay ₹5 lakh per acre (₹3,000 per marla) as cess besides external development charges.

The real estate projects that have been affected with this decision fall between NH-21 (Mohali-Kharar T-point) to Sector 74 on Airport Road and Mullanpur-New Chandigarh Road starting from the Punjab-Chandigarh border near the PGIMER.

The government had argued that promoters of these mega projects situated alongside these roads would be directly benefited from the construction of these two roads and in lieu of this benefit, “it shall be appropriate to levy cess on projects on the both sides of these roads”.

The petitioners had submitted that the promoter asked them to start the construction on the site before March 2018 after clearing all dues, failing which the petitioners would be compelled to pay holding charges retrospectively. These charges, now being levied never formed part of the original agreement. Hence, cannot be charged, the petitioners said.

Urging the court to quash the government decision, the petitioners said: “With this decision, the respondents have created a separate class among equals which cannot stand the constitutional test of doctrine of equality.”

“The decision has been unanimously taken by the government officials in connivance with private builders without any involvement of the parties who would be affected or who are presumed to enjoy the benefit after the constructed of the roads,” the petitioners told the court.

“The decision of levying additional cess on those acquiring property along the airport road is illegal and mal afide. The petitioners would not be the only ones who would use this yet to be constructed road and they won’t reap any additional benefit by owning a property within the 1km radius of these roads,” the court was told.

First Published: Jan 31, 2018 12:08 IST