HC quashes NDMC bylaws
The high court has struck down NDMC bye-laws of 2009 in New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) areas under which it was empowered to charge property tax even on vacant land. A bench of Justice S Muralidhar and Justice Pratibha M Singh also “invalidated” the action taken by the civic agency under the new bye-laws, which had brought about a change in the method of arriving at the rateable value for the purposes of property tax.
The court’s direction came on a batch of 28 writ petitions filed in the last few years by group of individuals, corporates and residents welfare associations alleging that under the 2009 NDMC bye-laws, the civic body was charging property tax on vacant land at a rate equal to the constructed area. The petitioners argued that such amendment to bye-laws was carried out despite the fact that in a large portion of the NDMC area, no construction is permitted on vacant land due to the Lutyen’s Bungalow Zone restrictions or Archaeological Survey of India regulations. Hence the owners argued they can’t be penalised for not doing something which is prohibited under law.
Allowing the petitions challenging the constitutional validity of these bye-laws, the bench said it “invalidates all actions taken by the NDMC under the new bye-laws in terms of levy, assessment, collection and enforcement of demand of property tax. All property demands made under the new bye-laws are hereby invalidated and declared unenforceable.” It further said that in terms of the interim order passed by the court, the excess of the tax deposited has to be refunded but exact amount can be determined only as per the existing rules under the NDMC Act.
“Such refund of excess tax deposited would be in accordance with the law and together with the interest payable thereon in terms of the NDMC Act. It will be open to the individual tax payers to seek appropriate remedies in regard to refund together with interest at the appropriate stage after completion of the assessment in terms of the extant provisions of the NDMC Act,” the bench said in its 40-page order.