e row over Octroi vs Local Bodies Tax (LBT) issue would now be fought in the Supreme Court.
Eminent trade unionist, Sharad Rao, who is the President of Municipal Mazdoor Union, has decided to move the apex court by Wednesday demanding a roll back of the LBT.
“We expect a hearing by Thursday or Friday,” Rao said, adding that since Constitutional issues are involved, this is going to be a "landmark case" - and expressed hope that the Maharashtra Government would be defeated in the apex court.
Rao, along with other unions of municipal bodies, would challenge the March 26 order of the Bombay High Court - which has admitted a bunch of appeals against the LBT, but has not granted any interim relief.
A division bench of Bombay High Court comprising Justice Mridula Bhatkar and A S Oka, however, while admitting the appeals has directed to “expedite hearing” and observed that - “...the Municipal Corporations will have to maintain records relating to recovery and collection of LBT made during pendency of the petitions as the same will be subject to final decision of the petitions.
The petitions have been filed by Municipal Labour Union, PMC Employees Union, Pimpri-Chinchwad Mahanagarpalika Karmachari Mahasangh and Rashtriya Nagpur Corporation Employees Association.
The respondents in the writ petition are State of Maharashtra, Thane Municipal Corporation, Pune Municipal Corporation, Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation, Nagpur Municipal Corporation and Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation.
“Despite the fact that the Bombay High Court has directed to expedite hearing on this issue, we are moving the Supreme Court,” Rao told a news conference at the Mumbai Marathi Patrakar Sangh here, adding that in case there is a roll back, Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan must take moral responsibility and step down.
“There is clearly lack of knowledge on part of the government and the Cabinet is being misguided by the IAS lobby,” Rao alleged, adding that the government must immediately roll back. “What is more important that since the Bombay High Court has admitted the appeals, the government should maintain status quo,” he said, adding that the decision to introduce LBT in the big corporations has been taken to give undue benefits to the trading community.
He also said that what is to be noted that the Urban Development department and the Cabinet has unilaterally decided to introduce LBT. "No elected body has given its sanction," he pointed out. "We have requested the Commissioners of Pune, Pimpri-Chinchwad, Navi Mumbai, Thane and Nagpur, that status quo be maintained in the existing octroi nakas, its arrangement, properties, and employees," he added.