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Kerala High Court: The Bench of Dama Seshadri Naidu, J. allowed a petition raising a dispute in relation to the payment of motor vehicle tax.

In the present case, petitioner, a stage carriage operator had remitted the motor vehicle tax based on seating capacity. It was insisted by the respondent that according to the amendment effected through Kerala Finance Bill, 2016 tax should be based on floor area. Grievance of the petitioner was that he was entitled to pay tax under the unamended provision. Hence, the present petition.

On introduction of the ‘Code of Practice for Bus Body Design and Approval’, there was a reduction in seating capacity of stage carriages. The tax as levied on stage carriages in the State was based on the seating capacity and the permitted standing capacity. In order to increase its revenue and for bringing parity in tax charged on old and new stage carriages, the State brought in some amendments. According to the amended provision tax on the new vehicles registered 18-07-2016 onwards was to be levied on the measure of the floor area of a stage carriage, and tax on existing stage carriages registered prior to 18-7-2016 was to be levied on seating and standing capacity.

The Court noted that the petitioner’s vehicle had been registered before 01-10-2017. Thus, it was held that the petitioner could pay motor could pay tax under the unamended provision. [Joseph v. State of Kerala, 2019 SCC OnLine Ker 646, Order dated 19-02-2019]