Madras HC quashes resolution levying a 60% surcharge on educational institutions.

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The Chennai and Coimbatore Corporations’ decision to impose a 60% surcharge on private, unaided educational establishments in the two cities has been overturned by the Madras High Court. A group of writ petitions from Good Shepherd Matriculation Higher Secondary School in Nungambakkam, 18 other schools in Chennai, and one school in Coimbatore were recently accepted by Justice Anita Sumanth, who also overturned the resolution.

The petitioner schools questioned whether the Chennai City and Coimbatore City Municipal Corporations had the right to assess a surcharge of 60% of the tax due on their educationally-related properties. Father Xavier Arulraj, the senior counsel for the petitioners, called the judge’s attention to an assessment made against the schools and reaffirmed the petitioners’ readiness and promptness in remitting the half-yearly tax as computed, however without the surcharge levied at the rate of 60%.

The enactment does not provide the imposition of a surcharge, so there is no legal basis from which the Corporations may derive jurisdiction to do so, he continued. Arulraj raised a valid issue, and the judge agreed, stating that the combined amount of general tax, educational tax, and library cess amounted to 24.8% of the annual value of buildings, which is within the permitted range. However, if a surcharge were included, the sum would exceed what is allowed. The judge stated, “For the aforesaid reason, the impugned resolution is determined to be contrary to the requirements of the various enactments and therefore, such levies are annulled.

Mayank Tewari

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