THE Delhi High Court on Friday issued notice to the Delhi Government on its decision to impose 70% ‘special corona fee’ on liquor.
Advocate for the petitioners submitted that the act on the part of Delhi Government was a case of excessive delegation as the Parent Act i.e. Delhi Excise Act, does not empower the state to levy any fee or charges except as provided under section 26 of the Act.
It was further submitted that the imposition of such fee by the Govt. is in violation of Article 265 of the Constitution of India as it was without any authority of law.
After hearing the counsels for the petitioners, a division bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Hari Shankar asked the state government to file a reply to the petition.
Delhi Government on May 4, in the exercise of powers conferred by section 81(1) of the Delhi Excise Act, 2009 had amended Rule 154(4) of Delhi Excise Rules, 2010 adding Serial No. 17 therein, thereby levying Special Corona Fee to the extent of 70 per cent of the maximum retail price on all categories of liquor.
According to the petitioners government can generate revenue under the Act only under the four heads / categories, as laid down in Section 26 of the Act, which is an exhaustive clause. The said four heads / categories are- (a) duty, (b) licence fee, (c) label registration fee and (d) import or export fee.
“From a bare reading of the said Section, it is evident that the Act nowhere creates any further categories or classes or heads, under which the Respondent can impose Tax, Duty or Fee, for generating the revenue under the Act, apart from the already laid down four categories. The levy of Special Corona Fee does not fall under any of the above four categories and therefore, the said levy is ultra vires the Act”, petitioners said.
Petitioners added no tax could be imposed by any bye-law or rule or regulation unless the statute under which the subordinate legislation was made specially authorizes the imposition, even if it is assumed that the power to tax can be delegated to the executive.
Further, the petitioners contended that impugned levy is only on retail sales that too on MRP, which means that the impugned fee has been levied directly on the Consumer of the Liquor, however, the provisions of the Act and Rules, does not lay down any such levy to be imposed on the Consumers. The impugned notification, according to the petitioner, and consequently the levy i.e. Special Corona Fee is ultra-vires and is, therefore, liable to be quashed and set aside.
The petition was filed through advocates Varun Tyagi and Bharat Gupta.
The court has fixed May 29 as next date of hearing in the matter.