Decided on September 10,1971



- (1.) 5 rate payers of Sattenapalli Gram Panchayat have filed a suit in a representative capacity on behalf of all the rate payers of the said panchayat questioning the revision of house taxes in the Panchayat in the year 1962, on the ground that it is illegal, arbitrary, capricious and unenforceable and have sought for a permanent injunction restraining the defendant-Gram Panchayat from giving effect to the said general revision.
(2.) It is the case of the plaintiff that the Panchayat adopted the annual rental value as its basis for the fixation of houses taxes in which rental value itself is being calculated on the basis of the actual rents realised during the year. This basis was adopted both for the owner occupied houses as well as the tenant occupied houses. It is their contention that Sattenapalli is a town to which the Madras Buildings ( Lease and Rent ) Control Act as modified by the Andhra Pradesh Buildings ( Lease, Rent and Eviction ) Control Act, 1960 ( herein after referred to compendiously as the Rent Control Act ) applies and therefore the fair rent realised for the houses alone could be taken as the annual rental value of the building both for the owner occupied and the tenant occupied houses. The Revision Officer ignoring the provisions of the Rent Control Act enhanced the house taxes by more than 300 per cent over the 1957-58 taxes. While the income from house taxes was Rs. 29076.24 during the year 1957-58, as a result of the impugned revision the house tax has been increased to Rupees 69424.32. In paragraph 9 of the plaint instances of enhancement in 11 different wards of the Gram Panchayat were given which show an increase ranging from 300 % to 1000 %. They have also alleged various other irregularities and failure to comply with the provisions of law in making the present revision. It is not necessary to note these facts in detail having regard to the submissions made by the learned counsel for both the parties in this appeal.
(3.) The Gram Panchayat contended that all the provisions of law and the rules regulating the revision of taxes have been complied with and that the revision of taxes itself is on a correct assessment of the rental value of the houses and as such it does not call for interference by a Civil Court. The other plea as to want of valid notice as required under Section 107 of the village Panchayat Act was also taken but was not pressed at the hearing of the second appeal before me.;

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