The Kerala High Court on Thursday granted an interim stay on a notification issued by the Lakshadweep Administration increasing the stamp duty levied for transfer of land. Justice Raja Viajayaraghavan gave the stay order for three weeks in a plea challenging the notification on the grounds that it was issued without jurisdiction and is highly arbitrary, unconstitutional, and violative of the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution of India to the inhabitants of the Islands who primarily belong to Scheduled Tribes.
The court also issued notice to the Lakshadweep administration. Counsel for the petitioner, who is a resident of the islands, submitted that by the impugned notification issued by the Lakshadweep District Collector, the existing stamp duty, which was at 1 per cent uniformly, was revised and restructured.
The petitioner submitted that the notification states that stamp duty would be 6 per cent for female ownership, 7 per cent for joint ownership of male and female and 8 per cent for others on the total valuation. This, according to the counsel for the petitioner, is clearly violative of Article 14 of the Constitution of India.
The petitioner's counsel argued that the fixation at a varying range is not found on an intelligible differentia and it has no rational basis. Referring to Section 9 of Act II of 1899, it was submitted that Section 9 of the Act confers powers only to the Government to reduce, remit or compound duties.
It was also contended that the provisions of Sections 9 and 75 of the Act have not been complied with. Referring to a Supreme Court order, counsel for the Administration argued that the Apex Court would deprecate the practice of grant of interim order in matters relating to collection of public revenue.
The administration has been given three weeks time to file its response.