ASSAM MEDICINE DEALERS ASSOCIATION Vs. GUWAHATI MUNICIPAL CORPORATION
HIGH COURT OF GAUHATI
Assam Medicine Dealers Association
GUWAHATI MUNICIPAL CORPORATION
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Achintya Malla Bujor Barua, J. -
(1.) Heard Mr. J. Roy, learned counsel for the appellants as well as Mr. D. Saikia, learned Senior Addl. Advocate General appearing for the respondents including Guwahati Municipal Corporation.
(2.) The appellant No. 1, being an association of the wholesalers and retailers in medicine and the appellant No. 2, who undertakes the business of wholesaler in medicine, in the name of Bishop Drug Distributors had preferred the WP(C) No.1960/2016 assailing the notification dated 27.04.2015 of the Guwahati Municipal Corporation (in short GMC) by which, trade license fee of the dealers in medicine had been increased to Rs.8650/- per annum. In the writ petition, an interim order dated 21.03.2016 was passed by which the respondent GMC was restrained from insisting on the license fee of Rs.8,650/- for renewal by providing that they can at the best charge Rs.2500/- as the license fee. The said interim order was passed on the premises that it was the prima facie case of the appellants that the license fee charged under Section 180 of the Guwahati Municipal Act, 1971 (in short Act of 1971) is in fact a tax and not a fee and therefore, the upper limit of Rs.2500/- provided that under Article 276(2) of the Constitution of India would be applicable.
Subsequent thereto, another writ petition being WP(C) No. 5160/2017 was filed by the appellant No. 3 being the association of the various trading and commercial entities in the State and outside and the appellant No. 4, who was a trader who operates his business in the name of his firm namely Sri Gopal Bhandar, also assailing the notification dated 27.04.2015, by which trade license fee was increased to Rs.8650/-.
(3.) In the writ petitions, the appellants had assailed the notification dated 27.04.2015 by which the respondents authorities had enhanced the license fee payable for the trade license granted by the respondent GMC to Rs.8650/- per annum. According to the appellants, the annual license fee is payable under provisions of Section 180 of the Act of 1971, where the levy is described to be a tax. Further, according to the appellants the license fee of Rs.8650/- had been imposed without there being a reciprocal quid pro quo and therefore it is a tax rather than a fee payable. The appellants had raised a further issue that prior to such enhancement the traders under the appellant associations were paying a license renewal fee @ Rs.1500 per year, and hence enhancing the same to Rs.8650 at one go is highly excessive.;
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