No concessions for marriage hall owners, says High Court

The Madras High Court on Thursday held that those owning valuable properties such as marriage halls in the city did not deserve any concession in payments of water or sewerage charges by citing the COVID-19 lockdown.

Justice S.M. Subramaniam held so while dismissing a writ petition filed by the Chennai Kalyana Mandapam Owners’ Association, which complained about the payment of water and sewerage charges being demanded from its members based on new rental values.

A counsel representing the petitioner association said the new rental value was yet to be finalised, and hence it was not fair on the part of the Chennai Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board to demand charges based on such inconclusive values.

He said marriage halls had lost business due to successive lockdowns, imposed by the government to fight COVID-19 and hence, members of the petitioner association were not in a healthy financial position to honour such huge demands towards water and sewerage charges.

Disagreeing with the petitioner association, the judge said the closure of marriage halls due to COVID-19 was only a temporary curb, imposed on the marriage halls which otherwise charge “exorbitant” amounts of money for renting out the halls.

“Which marriage hall in Chennai charges in thousands? All of you demand rent in lakhs of rupees. Not just marriage halls but also cinema halls, amusement parks and many other commercial establishments remain closed due to the pandemic.

“Members of your association are wealthy enough to own marriage halls. How can you be equated with the poor who have lost their livelihood? It is only with the tax money that you pay that the government and the Corporation can provide free vaccines to the poor,” the judge said.

Later, he dismissed the case with an observation that the CMWSSB was bound to collect water and sewerage charges from the members of the petitioner association promptly and without showing any leniency. The judge also told Greater Chennai Corporation counsel Vaitheeswari to ensure that property tax too is collected promptly.

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Printable version | Sep 22, 2021 8:27:20 AM |

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