BERHAMPUR: The Orissa High Court on Tuesday directed the Berhampur Municipal Corporation (BeMC) to collect holding tax as per the old rate.
Hearing a writ petition filed by Congress leader and lawyer Pitabas Panda, Justice Biswanath Rath, in an interim order, said the petitioner shall continue to pay the tax as per the rate previous to the revision which would be subject to outcome of the case.
The court, however, declined to interfere with the user fee. Any counter can be filed within eight weeks, it said. Last year, BeMC had increased the holding and property taxes in the Silk City. Despite public resentment, the civic body collected the tax at the enhanced rate.
Panda moved the HC and filed a writ petition in March this year with the BeMC, Ganjam Collector and the State government as opposite parties. In the petition, Panda stated that the Odisha Municipal Corporation Act was sidelined while notification to this effect was issued without holding a public hearing.
He appealed to the HC to seek reply from the State government as to why this decision was taken in a hurry.
The tenure of elected representatives of BeMC ended on September, 2018 while no elections have been held for various posts including the Mayor since then.
The Collector has been assigned the additional responsibility of the civic body’s administrator.
“In this situation, enhancing holding tax is illegal. It should be scrapped immediately,” Panda added. Despite repeated attempts, no BeMC official was available for comment.