Rajinikanth has withdrawn a petition from the Madras High Court that had urged the court to restrain the Chennai Corporation from imposing a fine of ₹6.5 lakh as property tax levied on a wedding hall belonging to the superstar.
The court said the actor should have issued a reminder to the local body before coming to court.
The actor’s plea involves his popular Raghavendra Wedding Hall ‘Raghavendra Mandapam’ at Chennai’s Kodambakkam, for which the actor says the Corporation of Chennai has set a ₹6.5 lakh property tax for 2019-2020.
The actor said he had sought remission of property tax from the local body, citing lack of business due to the coronavirus pandemic and a refund of all advance payments since lockdown started in March. He went to court after the local body failed to respond, he said.
The affidavit also cites Tamil Nadu government’s direction to cancel all bookings, due to which the “marriage hall has been unlet/vacant since 24/03/2020”.
Citing Section 105 of the Chennai City Municipal Corporation Act 1919, the actor underscored the provision for 50 per cent waiver in these circumstances.
The Chennai Corporation, he claims, has not passed any order on his appeal, which was sent on September 23 amid announcement of a 2 per cent penalty for payments made after October 15.
Rajinikanth’s lawyer Vijayan Subramanian told a news channel, that there is a legal provision that 50 per cent remission of property tax can be sought if the property was vacant. “That’s what Rajinikanth is trying to avail. I have told the judge that the petition will be withdrawn”.
His plea came amid an aggressive drive by the Chennai Corporation to collect property tax from owners, many of whom say they don’t have the money to pay.
With loss of income due to job losses, salary cuts and closure of shops for up to five months, a large number of individuals, shops, complexes and malls have incurred huge losses. Landlords were advised by the government not to collect rent.
When NDTV contacted property tax collectors, an official said: “We are not aware of such a remission provision. However, if property tax is paid before the 15th, we offer discount, otherwise they would have to pay a fine”.
Opposition parties, too, have been demanding a humane approach and deferred payment plans.
While the battle is yet to be over, Rajinikanth may have taken up a crucial issue. His demand for remission, if accepted, could lead to awareness among a large number of property owners regarding remission.