Decided on July 02,2007

Nk. Gupta Respondents


S.MURALIDHAR,J. - (1.) THESE appeals are directed against the common judgment dated 13th March, 2007 passed by the learned Single Judge of this Court in Writ Petition (Civil) No. 8161 of 2005 and Batch. The writ petitions challenged the validity of the notices issued by the Collector of Stamps under Section 40 of the Indian Stamp Act, 1899 ('Stamp Act') demanding transfer duty as well as deficient stamp duty and penalty equal to ten times of the deficient duty.
(2.) THE demand for transfer duty was made in respect of the conveyance of plots of land in favour of the appellants who successfully bid for them in auctions held by the Delhi Development Authority ('DDA')/ Municipal Corporation of Delhi ('MCD'). Consequently, perpetual lease deeds were executed and registered in their favour. The writ petitioners had also paid the appropriate stamp duty and transfer duty in terms of the certificate issued by the Collector of Stamps in each of the cases. On 29th August 2004 a general order was issued by the Divisional Commissioner, Delhi stating that the Collectors of Stamp of different districts had adopted varying methods of calculation of duty in respect of perpetual leases which had resulted in the duty being short levied and collected. This conclusion was reached on an interpretation of Article 35 of Schedule 1 (A) to the Stamp Act as applicable to Delhi and Section 147 to the Delhi Municipal Corporation Act, 1957 ('DMC Act'). Consequently, the impugned notices were issued in February 2005 to each of the appellants calling upon them to pay the deficient duty as well as the penalty equaling ten times of the deficient duty. In respect of Vardhman Properties, for instance, the auction purchaser had paid Rs. 12,42,215 as stamp duty. This was now recomputed as Rs. 13,30,604 being the aggregate of Rs. 10,79,772 as stamp duty and Rs. 2,00,832 as transfer duty. In re- working the duty, the total consideration for the perpetual lease was taken as the aggregate of the premium amount of Rs. 1,91,11,000 and the annual rent calculated as a percentage of the premium amount. In addition a penalty of Rs. 8,88,389 (being ten times of the deficient duty) was also demanded.
(3.) BEFORE the learned Single Judge the respondents contended that they were not challenging the re-working of the stamp duty since the question of interpretation of Article 35 of Schedule 1(A) of the Stamp Act was debatable. Their challenge was, therefore, confined to the penalty imposed under the Stamp Act as well as the DMC Act with regard to the stamp duty and transfer duty respectively as well as the dues in the transfer duty as demanded in the impugned notices.;

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