Lessees challenge the Corporation's demand for non-refundable deposits to run their shops

The Madras High Court bench here on Tuesday allowed a batch of petitions filed by lessees occupying commercial buildings belonging to the Madurai Corporation, challenging the notices issued by the Assistant Commissioner (Revenue), Madurai Corporation, which sought non-refundable deposits from the petitioners to continue running their shops.

Justice T. Raja set aside the notices issued by the Corporation authority on the grounds that there is no specific provision in the Madurai City Municipal Corporation Act, 1971, enabling the Corporation authorities to demand non-refundable deposits from the lessees for continued occupation.

The petitioners had moved the court contending that the notices issued by the Assistant Commissioner were “not legally maintainable”.

The authority had demanded the non-refundable deposits within seven days failing which, it said, it intended to cancel the licences issued to them to run their shops, the petitioners had alleged.

They had claimed that the Corporation failed to give them an opportunity to express their views against the collection of non-refundable deposits.

The counsel who appeared on behalf of the Corporation had submitted that there was no provision in the Madurai City Municipal Corporation Act to collect non-refundable deposits from the lessees.

But he had contended that augmentation of revenue was essential for the Corporation to meet the expenditure on building and road works.

However, he stated that the Corporation would “earnestly consider” the grievances of the petitioners.

Justice Raja directed the petitioners to submit their representations to the Corporation authorities within two weeks. He also instructed the Corporation authorities to consider the representations on their merit and pass orders within three weeks.

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