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Monday, November 19, 2007

Stamp Duty on sale registration (SC)

The Supreme Court has held that the stamp duty on property has to be paid according to its market value on the date of registration of the sale deed.

In a ruling with wide ramifications for property buyers, a bench comprising Justices A K Mathur and Markandey Katju held that if a property is in litigation for a long time and during the pendency, if prices of the property have shot up, the buyer shall have to pay stamp duty at the enhanced market value of the property.

The bench, in its judgement dated November 16, while setting aside the judgement of the Rajasthan High Court noted, '' it is true that no one should suffer on account of the pendency of the matter, but this consideration does not affect the principles of interpretation of a taxing statute. A taxing statute has to be construed as it is in all these contingencies that the matter was under litigation and the value of the property which by that time shot up cannot be taken into account for interpreting the provisions of a taxing statute. If a taxing statute has to be construed strictly, then the plea that the incumbent took a long time to get a decree for execution against the vendor cannot weigh with the court for interpreting the provisions of taxing statutes. In this case, Khandaka Jain, jewellers in Jaipur, had purchased a property from a seller and paid an advance of Rs 20,000. The total value of the property was Rs 1,40,000. The property vendor did not execute the documents including the sale deed which prompted the buyers to file a suit for specific performance of the contract. In 1991, the suit was filed by the buyer and decreed in his favour ]on February 2, 1994. The buyer also deposited Rs 40,000 as per the directions of the court but even then, the seller did not execute the sale deed. Later, the collector issued orders making demand of additional stamp duty in view of the increased market value of the property. Jain Jewellers moved the High Court against the order of the district collector and their petition was allowed by the court holding that stamp duty was liable to be paid on the date of agreement to sale and the buyer could not be penalised for the time taken in the litigation.

The apex court, however, has taken a different view and directed the respondents, namely Jain jewellers, to pay stamp duty and surcharge as per the market value of the property determined by the collector as per the provisions of the Stamp Duty Act and allowed the appeal of the State of Rajasthan.


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