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2015 (11) TMI 1794

..... buildings, used for educational purpose or allied purpose and its hostel buildings owned by the Government, aided or functioning with the financial assistance of the Government alone, in exclusion of similar buildings and hostels owned by other private management of self-financing Educational Institutions, is discriminatory and violative of Art.14 of the Constitution of India? HELD THAT:- The matter in issue involved in the instant case falls exclusively in the domain of taxation and has no connection with the academic affairs. Therefore, the extent of enquiry is confined to the fiscal status of institutions only. What is the basis of the classification? This classification is made, by granting exemption to the buildings owned or financed by the Government, on the basis that public money is utilised for the construction and maintenance of such buildings; whereas in the case of the buildings and hostels owned and maintained by private management of self-financing institutions, the public money has not been involved. Put it differently, this exemption is a privilege granted to the public money and it can be said that buildings and hostels constructed and maintained by using public mo .....

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..... x exemption granted to the institutions owned or aided and administered by the Government. The case put forward by the petitioner fails in the test proposed by the petitioner himself - Petition dismissed. - W.P. (C) No.8925 of 2012 - 18-11-2015 - K. Harilal, J. Sri.T.K.Venugopalan And SRI.V.V.Varghese For The Petitioner. Government Pleader Sri.T.J. Michael, Adv. Sri.N.K.Poulosekutty Adv. Sri.C.Y.Vinod Kumar For The Respondent. JUDGMENT The question that emerges for consideration in this writ petition is, whether the grant of exemption from property tax under Sec.207 of the Kerala Panchayat Raj Act, 1994, to the buildings, used for educational purpose or allied purpose and its hostel buildings owned by the Government, aided or functioning with the financial assistance of the Government alone, in exclusion of similar buildings and hostels owned by other private management of self-financing Educational Institutions, is discriminatory and violative of Art.14 of the Constitution of India. 2. The petitioner/Engineering College is a self-financing college, affiliated to the Mahatma Gandhi University, recognised and controlled by the Kerala Professional Colleges or Institutions (Prohibitio .....

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..... ws and is valid, but a law based on impermissible classification violates guarantee under Art.14 of the Constitution of India and is void. In Mohammed Shejat Ali v. State of A.P. (AIR 1974 SC 1631), the Supreme Court held as follows: "The fundamental guarantee is of equal protection and the doctrine of classification is a subsidiary rule evolved by Courts to give practical content to that guarantee by accommodating it with the practical needs of the society and it should not be allowed to submerge and drawn the precision guarantee of equality". 4. In Venugopala Ravi Varma Rajah v. Union of India (AIR 1969 SC 1094) the Supreme Court held as follows: "Equal protection clause does not enjoin equal protection of the laws as abstract propositions. Protection of equality does not predicate a mathematically precise or logically complete or symmetrical classification. It is not a condition of the guarantee of equal protection that all transactions, properties, objects or persons of the same genes must be affected by it or none at all. It is for the legislature to determine the objects on which tax is to be levied and the rates thereof". 5. In Royappa v. State of Tamil N .....

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..... to the buildings owned or financed by the Government, on the basis that public money is utilised for the construction and maintenance of such buildings; whereas in the case of the buildings and hostels owned and maintained by private management of self-financing institutions, the public money has not been involved. Put it differently, this exemption is a privilege granted to the public money and it can be said that buildings and hostels constructed and maintained by using public money is exempted from payment of property tax and the people, as a whole, is the beneficiary of this exemption. If property tax is imposed on buildings and hostels owned by the Government, that amount also will be taken from the public fund. More importantly, exemption is given to the institutions, functioning under the administrative control of the Government and to which Governmental auditing of funds and expenditure is made compulsory; whereas , the case of self-financing institutions, such control and auditing of funds are absent. 9. Secondly, the expression 'self financing' itself shows that such institutions are having their own fee structure, which cannot be compared with fees of a Governmen .....

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..... ssional Education) Act, 2006 is one among various such statutes and on that reason the self-financing Educational Institutions cannot be equated with the Educational Institutions owned and administered by the Government, having the privilege under Sec.207 of the Kerala Panchayat Raj Act, 1994. The concept of 'sovereign immunity' is the basis of this privilege of tax exemption granted to the institutions owned or aided and administered by the Government. 11. The learned counsel for the petitioner cited the decisions laid down by the Supreme Court in Mediwell Hospital and Healthy Care Pvt. Ltd., v. Union of India [AIR 1977 SC 1623]; Deepak Sibal v. Punjab University and another [AIR 1989 SC 903] W.B. Hosiery Association v. State of Bihar [AIR 1988 SC 1814] and Kan Singh etc., v. State Transport Appellate Tribunal and others [AIR 1988 SC 18]. I have carefully gone through the decisions referred above; but found that the principle which I have relied on, in the light of the decisions referred by me and the principle that can be culled out from the decisions cited by the learned counsel for the petitioner are one and the same. So, I have tested the question of discrimination wit .....

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