Syed Rukaya

Srinagar, May 12: The High Court of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh has issued notice to Union of India and J&K administration in a plea challenging constitutional validity of order for imposition of Property Tax in J&K.

A court of Justice Vinod Chatterjee Koul issued notice to the Union of India through the Secretary, Legislative Department, Ministry of Law & Justice, Secretary, Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh Affairs Division, Ministry of Home Affairs, and Principal Secretary to government, Housing & Urban Development Department, J&K.

The plea filed by Hanan Moumin Feroz Khan challenged Section 96 of the Jammu & Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019 to the extent of power of amendment and repeal carried out in J&K Municipal Corporation Act, 2000 which imposes property tax within the Municipal Jurisdiction of Srinagar city.

The petition deals with the constitutionality of the substantial legislative amendments or repeal carried out in J&K Municipal Corporation Act, 2000 by virtue of J&K Reorganisation (Adaptation of State Laws) Third Order, issued on October 5, 2020 and consequent notifications issued on February 12, 2021 and February 21, 2023 while exercising executive powers conferred under Section 96 of J&K Reorganization Act, 2019 by the Central Government.

The petitioner through counsel Taha Khalil stated that enactment of J&K Reorganisation Act, 2019 changed the constitutional status of the erstwhile state of J&K from a state to a Union Territory and hence ensued the process of overhauling the administrative and legislative structures of erstwhile state of J&K.

The counsel contended that the amendments and repeal carried out in the J&K Municipal Corporation Act, 2000 are violative of Article 14, 21, 246, 265, 300A, Schedule VII, Doctrine of Federalism and other express provisions of Constitution of India.

He submitted that the notifications are unconstitutional, manifestly arbitrary and illegal to the extent of being ultra-vires the Constitution of India, hence void ab initio and non est in law and deserves to be set at naught.

Khalil argued that imposition of property tax, without proper legislation and public consultation, violates Article 265 of the Constitution of India. “The haste and malice on part of the J&K government goes against established legislative practice.”

He submitted that imposition of property tax on the petitioner is in violation of Article 300A of the Constitution, which guarantees the right to acquire and enjoy the property.

The petitioner submitted that the imposition of property tax deprives them of their right to the enjoyment of their property and, as a result, violates their right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution.

In light of the submissions, the petitioner has sought to quash the impugned orders. He has pleaded for a direction for the protection and enforcement of fundamental, constitutional rights vested by law & constitution in the matter of occupation, possession, exercise and enjoyment of right to property of the petitioner. The court posted the matter for hearing on July 24.

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