remedies against abuse of power by tax authority
My father owns a house in Kolkata since 2006 in his name, where our family has been residing. In 2012, he received a notice for the Kolkata Municipal Corporation that the property tax payable on our house has been increased to almost twice as it was earlier. I heard of the Lok Adalat and we have filed an appeal there already against this notice. However, we are yet to get a date for hearing of my case. Meanwhile, the Corporation has issued a second notice to my father urging him to pay the arrear tax as per the estimate of the Corporation. What I want to know is, would he have to pay the arrear in full as they want him to before we get a hearing at the Lok Adalat?
You seem to be sharing the bane of property holders in Kolkata, viz. sudden rise in property tax as prescribed by the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC). Now, there was a very specific reason why the right to appeal before the Lok Adalat for addressing one’s grievances in relation to tax was created. The reason was to essentially help the middle and low-income groups, who have been unduly burdened with a high property tax rate. So, I believe your decision to go to the Lok Adalat was a commendable one under the circumstances. Having said that, there is a precedent wherein a whole Bench of the Lok Adalat, addressing a large number of such grievances, had been cancelled altogether back in 2010, because it was found that the forum was being used by many a tax defaulter having huge tax arrears to address their individual grievances, which was not something the forum was meant for. Under such circumstances, I would advise you to pay up your current arrears and submit the receipt along with your complaint at the Lok Adalat, where you can seek redressal subsequently. I would also suggest, in case you want to increase your chances of winning a decision in your favour, to consult a lawyer who has been practicing in the KMC Tribunal.
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