Levy of lifetime tax on motor vehicles upheld

Legal Correspondent

The State has the legislative competence to levy such a tax, rules Supreme Court

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Friday upheld the levy of `lifetime tax' on four-wheelers of non-transport category and `green tax' on all classes of old motor vehicles besides the Motor Vehicle Tax.

A Bench of Justice Ruma Pal and Justice A.R. Lakshmanan dismissed a special leave petition at the admission stage, saying: "The State has legislative competence to levy such a tax. The High Court has rightly applied the principles laid down by the apex court and has upheld the constitutional validity of such a levy. We will not interfere."

The State Government, on May 19, 2003, passed the Tamil Nadu Motor Vehicle Taxation (Amendment) Act, 2003, which provided for lifetime tax and green tax.

It also revised the motor vehicle tax payable for maxi cab, educational institution buses and private service vehicles.

Hundreds of petitions, filed before the High Court, sought a declaration that the newly amended provisions were in violation of Article 14 of the Constitution.

A Division Bench, in its judgment dated August 25, 2005, dismissed the petitions, holding that such a levy was valid.

The special leave petition, filed by Philip Mathew and others, was directed against this judgment.

The petitioners argued that as the main objective of the amendment was to control pollution, a subject covered by the Union List, the State Government did not have the necessary legislative competence to impose such a tax, which was essentially compensatory.

The High Court judgment was erroneous, since it failed to consider the basic contention raised by the petitioners, it said and sought that the impugned judgment be quashed.

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