HC fines petitioners challenging tax collection

The High Court on Monday imposed a fine of Rs 30,000 on petitioners for wasting the court’s time in connection with a petition challenging collection of property tax by civic bodies.

Hearing a petition by Vinayaka Baliga, a resident of Mangalore, who challenged the collection of tax by Municipal Corporations in the State, the division bench comprising Chief Justice D H Waghela and Justice B V Nagarathna imposed the fine with directions that it remunerated to respondents in the form of litigation expenses.

The petitioners had argued that following the amendment of the Karnataka Municipal Tax Act, the civic bodies should have constituted a board to assess and collect the tax. “Only the board can enumerate the tax, but the Municipal Corporations have not constituted the board and are collecting tax indiscriminately,” the petitioners said.

Accepting the government’s submission that the civic bodies have not violated any norms during the assessment of tax, the bench dismissed the petition and observed that, “ The petitioner seems to have grievances against the assessment of tax. The basis on which the petition is filed is incorrect. We find it malafide and the petitioner has no locus standii. This court cannot interfere in the matter. “

When the petitioners pleaded the court not to impose the fine, the bench retorted that its, “Whole day has been wasted in hearing the Public Interest Litigation. Individual interest cannot be considered as a public cause.”

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