Posting the matter to August 27, justice M Nagaprasanna said that in the event any coercive action is taken by BBMP vis-a-vis subject matter of the petition, the petitioners’ counsel can move court.
Petitioners GT Cinema Private Limited and its CMD, ST Anand, claimed that GT World Mall, situated on Magadi Main Road, had fully complied with orders, and was closed to the public during the period of lockdown.
They claim that the levy of municipal tax by BBMP on dormant land and buildings during the period of a compulsory shutdown is not a tax on ‘use’ of such land and buildings, but confiscatory in nature and is not supported by entry 49 of List II of the 7th schedule to the Constitution.
They said that in 2019-20, the mall was completely shut for 18 days. In the financial year 2020-21, it was completely shut for 69 days and in the ongoing 2021-22 financial year, it had been fully shut for 77 days from April 19 to July 5, 2021.
The petitioners say that the cinema theatre section of the mall has suffered even longer closures due to restrictions – 18 days of complete lockdown in 2019-2020; 197 days of complete lockdown and 112 days of limited occupancy in 2020-21 and 102 days of lockdown in 2021-22.
They said that though a representation was submitted to the authorities on June 3, seeking relief from payment of property tax for the lockdown period, there was no response.
Apart from seeking protection from coercive action, the petitioners have also sought a declaration to the effect that the provisions of the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike Act, 2020 do not authorise the BBMP (Second Respondent) to levy tax on the land and building belonging to them insofar as the period of lockdown imposed to curb Covid is concerned.