The Chhattisgarh High Court, last Friday, came to the rescue of owners of cranes and mechanical excavators, commonly known as JCB, who were on the risk of monetary losses due to the latest amendment in the Chhattisgarh Motoryan Karadhan Adhiniyan, 1991, which introduced a new provision for lifetime road tax of 7% on the cost of these aforementioned vehicles. While allowing a bunch of petitions filed by the JCB owners, Justice Sanjay K. Agarwal held that lifetime tax is payable on said vehicles registered on or after 15.2.2016.
A total of 23 petitions were filed by these owners, who, were previously paying the quarterly tax on these types of machinery, were asked to pay this new tax after reducing the amount of tax already paid by them.
The Chhatisgarh Motoryan Kardhan (Sansodhan) Ordinance, 2016 was promulgated and became operative w.e.f 15.2.2016 by which Second Schedule of the said Ordinance, Entry No. 8 was inserted and as per amended provision, lifetime road tax of 7% of the cost of the vehicle was said to be imposed on crane and mechanical excavators.
The petitioners further pleaded that the respondents have discontinued accepting quarterly road tax is to paid by the petitioners and have been further directed to pay lifetime road tax of 7% on the total cost of the vehicle, which is contrary to law.
Justice Sanjay K. Agarwal, while allowing the petition observed that, it is a quite settled principle of statutory construction that every statute is prima facie prospective unless it is expressly or necessary implications made to have retrospective effect.
“In the instant case, provision for levy of lifetime tax came into force w.e.f 15.02.2016, but the legislature has deliberately and consciously omitted to insert any provision like proviso (i) to sub-section 5(2) of the Act of 1991 directing deduction of quarterly tax paid by the petitioners from the date of purchase till 15.02.2016 i.e., date of coming into force of the Act of 2016 imposing lifetime tax on the crane and mechanical excavator vehicles, therefore, to hold the lifetime tax payable by the petitioners would be contrary to law,” the Court said.
The Court further directed the department to accept quarterly tax from the petitioners in accordance with law and Act.