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M/s. Pashupati Castings Ltd. v/s State of U.P.

    Writ C No. 6516 of 2017

    Decided On, 21 March 2017

    At, High Court of Judicature at Allahabad

    By, THE HONOURABLE CHIEF JUSTICE MR. DILIP B BHOSALE & THE HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE YASHWANT VARMA

    For the Appellant: Tawvab Ahmed Khan, R.K. Awasthi, Deeva Siddique, Ravi Kiran Jain, Kshitij Shailendra, Bharat Garg, Advocates. For the Respondent: C. S.C., Ram Prasad Dubey, Advocate.



Judgment Text

1. These four writ petitions raise a challenge to the levy of license fee by the Zila Panchayat, Aligarh in terms of byelaws framed by it under the provisions of the U.P. Kshetra Panchayat and Zila Panchayat Adhiniyam, 19611. While the petitioners in the leading writ petition are engaged in the manufacture of iron rods, the petitioner in Writ Petition No. 8360 of 2013 runs a roller flour mill, while the petitioner in Writ Petition Nos. 36694 of 2013 and 36695 of 2013 are engaged in the manufacture of iron rods and iron sheets. Except for the petitioner in Writ Petition No. 8360 of 2013, all the other writ petitioners admittedly held licenses for carrying on their industry in trade granted by the Zila Panchayat, Aligarh. The cause for the institution of the present writ petitions appears to be the promulgation of the amended bye-laws on 29 March 2012 and in terms of which the license fee was increased by the Zila Panchayat concerned. As a consequence of the increase in license fee, the petitioners who were engaged in the manufacture of iron rods and iron sheets became liable to pay a license fee of Rs.2,00,000/- instead of Rs.2,000/-.

2. For a roller flour mill a 1 Adhiniyam license fee of Rs.1,00,000/- came to be imposed instead of the earlier prescribed license fee of Rs.3,000/-It further becomes pertinent to note here that except for the petitioner in Writ Petition No. 8360 of 2013, all the other connected writ petitions assailed the validity of the bye-laws with reference to the entry of their respective trade as set forth in bye-law No. 14 only. In essence, all the writ petitioners were aggrieved by the enhancement of license fee. The petitioner in Writ Petition No. 8360 of 2013 alone has raised an additional ground of not being liable to obtain a license at all. Although, the relief sought in this writ petitions is again with reference to the item relating to flour mills as contained in bye-law No. 14, Sri Ravi Kiran Jain, the learned Senior Counsel who has appeared in support of this writ petition, has submitted that a holistic reading of the reliefs claimed would indicate that the petitioner has raised a fundamental challenge in respect of the obligation to obtain a license as imposed by the bye-laws in question. It is in the above backdrop that we have heard the learned counsels for the contesting parties.

3. Sri Ravi Kiran Jain, learned Senior Counsel, who led the submissions on behalf of the petitioners drew our attention to the provisions of Section 239 of the Adhiniyam and submitted that a roller flour mill is not liable to be treated as being subject to the statutory liability of obtaining a license for carrying on its trade and business. This submission primarily rests upon the asserted distinction in the language employed by the English and Hindi texts of Section 239(2) D (d). It is his submission that although the English text of the Adhiniyam employs and uses the phrase "flour mill", the Hindi version of the said enactment uses the phrase "vkVk pDdh". Referring to the pleadings taken in the writ petition, Sri Jain contends that an "aatta chakki" is distinct and different from a roller flour mill and therefore, it is apparent that the business of a roller flour mill would not stand covered under Section 239. Placing reliance upon the judgment of the Supreme Court in M/s J.K. Jute Mills Co. Ltd. v. State of U.P. and another, AIR 1961 SC 1534 and of a learned Single Judge of this Court in Syed Mazahar Mustafa Jafri v. Rent Control and Eviction Officer, Allahabad and others, 1992 AWC 190 Sri Jain submitted that since Hindi is the official language in the State of U.P., it is the Hindi text of the enactment which must prevail and be considered as authoritatively decisive of the question as to whether a roller flour mill would stand covered under the provisions of Section 239 of the Adhiniyam.

4. Sri Kshitij Shailendra and Sri T.A. Khan, learned counsels who have appeared in the connected matters have contended that the imposition of fee by the Zila Panchayat concerned lacks all elements of a quid pro quo and therefore the demand for license fee is liable to be struck down on this ground alone. In addition, they submit that the increase in the licence fee manifold by the Zila Panchayat clearly renders the impost arbitrary. Sri Shailendra has in support of his contentions placed reliance upon the judgment rendered by a Division Bench of the Court in Uttar Pradesh Udyog Vyapar Pratinidhi Mandal and others v. State of U.P. and others, 2003) 1 UPLBEC 718. to submit that the levy of a fee must have some correlation to a service rendered.

Sri. R.P. Dube, learned counsel, who has appeared for the contesting Zila Panchayat has urged that the bye-laws in question fall within the authority and jurisdiction of the Zila Panchayat as conferred by the provisions of the Adhiniyam and therefore, cannot be treated as being arbitrary or ultra vires. He further contended that since the revision in license fee itself has come about after almost a decade, it could not be said that the increase was excessive so as to warrant being struck down by this Court on this score. It is these rival submissions which fall consideration.

5. The Zila Panchayat derives authority to levy a fee by virtue of the provision of Sections 142, 143 and 144 of the Adhiniyam. It is not disputed before us that the provisions of Sections 142 and 144 of the Adhiniyam would have no application to the present case. In terms of Section 143, the Zila Panchayat is empowered to charge a fee to be fixed by byelaw for any licence, sanction or permission which it is entitled or required to grant by or under this Act. Section 239 empowers the Zila Panchayat to frame bye-laws in respect of matters required by the Adhiniyam to be so governed and for the purposes of promoting or maintaining the health, safety and convenience of inhabitants of the Zila Panchayat and in furtherance of the administration of the Adhiniyam. By virtue of Subsection (2), the Zila Panchayat is conferred the power to make byelaws which without prejudice to the generality of the powers conferred by subsection (1) of 239, may be made in respect of matters set forth thereafter in sub section (2). The provisions of Section 239(2)D (d) being relevant for our purposes are extracted hereunder.

"(d) providing for the establishment, and for the regulation and inspection of markets and slaughterhouses, of livery stables, of encamping grounds, of sarais, of flourmills, of bakeries, of places for the manufacture, preparation or sale of specified article of food or drink, or for keeping or exhibiting animals for sale or hire or animals of which the produce is sold, and of places of public entertainment or resort, and for the proper and cleanly conduct of business therein;"

6. It is with reference to the power conferred by this provision and which evidently confers jurisdiction and authority upon the Zila Panchayat to regulate and inspect certain industries and trades mentioned in clause (d) that the impugned bye-laws appear to have been framed. The obligation to obtain a license stands placed in terms of clause (5) of the bye-laws and is in the following terms:

'LANGUAGE'

7. Clause 14 then sets forth the various activities, industries and trades which are required to be regulated by a license issued by the Zila Panchayat and it is this bye-law which prescribes the annual license fee. Insofar as a roller flour mill is concerned, the same stands covered under entry 32 of bye-law 14 while iron rods and iron sheets stand covered under entry 34. However, before dealing with the submission that the enhancement in the license fee is arbitrary and that the same lacks the element of a quid pro quo, we propose to deal with the submissions advanced by Sri Jain hereinafter.

8. As noticed above, Sri Jain has sought to highlight the difference between the English and Hindi texts of Section 239(2)D(d) to contend that a "roller flour mill" shall not stand covered under the impugned bye-laws.

9. In order to appreciate this submission, we for the sake of clarity extract both the English and Hindi versions which are in the following terms.

English text Hindi text

(d) providing for the establishment, and for the regulation and inspection of markets and slaughterhouses, of livery stables, of encamping grounds, of sarais, of flourmills, of bakeries, of places for the manufacture, preparation or sale of specified article of food or drink, or for keeping or exhibiting animals for sale or hire or animals of which the produce is sold, and of places of public entertainment or resort, and for the proper and cleanly conduct of business therein; and 'LANGUAGE'

10. To sustain his submission that a "roller flour mill" cannot be treated as an "aata chakki", Sri Jain has placed reliance upon the averments taken in the writ petition and more particularly those carried in paragraphs 14 to 19 thereof. A perusal of the averments taken in the aforementioned paragraphs only appear to indicate that a roller flour mill may in a particular sense be liable to be viewed as a larger and more complex enterprise than an aata chakki. However, this does not in our considered view detract from the basic fact that a roller flour mill also grinds wheat. The fact that a roller flour mill does in the course of manufacture convert wheat into aata is admitted to the petitioner itself as is evident from paragraph 13 of the writ petition. The assertions made in the various paragraphs of the writ petition are therefore, in our considered view, neither decisive nor determinative of the issue. We enter this finding bearing in mind that the issue raised relates to the exact meaning to be ascribed to and the scope and content of an expression used in the statute. The considerations relevant for the answer to such a question would necessarily have to be the legislative intent underlying the use of the said expression, the ordinary meaning assigned to it or one conferred by a dictionary to the said expression. We are of the considered view that the meaning to be ascribed to a generic phrase used in a statute cannot be made to draw its color from the size or magnitude of the enterprise in question. The fact that a particular enterprise entails a larger investment, requires compliance with various statutory obligations cannot be decisive of the issue. In our considered opinion the primary issue which arises for consideration is whether a roller flour mill is a 'flour mill' covered under Section 239 and therefore, exigible to the rigours of Section 239. In our view the words "flour mill" as used in section 239 are comprehensive and compendious enough to cover a roller flour mill also. There is no indication in section 239 which may urge us to hold that while an "atta chakki" would stand covered by the expression "flour mill" a roller flour mill would not.

11. That takes us to the second submission advanced by Sri Jain and which rests upon the asserted distinction in the Hindi and English texts of section 239. At the very outset, it must be borne in mind that the submission of Sri Jain in respect of the alleged conflict between the English and Hindi versions of the Act must be answered on the touchstone of Article 348 of the Constitution. Clause (1) of Article 348 unambiguously provides that the authoritative text of all Bills and Acts passed by the Parliament and Legislature of the States shall be in the English language until Parliament may by law otherwise provide. Sub clause (3) of Article 348 then provides that where the Legislature of a State has prescribed any language other than the English language for use in Bills introduced in, or Acts passed by the Legislature of the State, translations of the same published under the authority of the Governor of the State in the English language shall be deemed to be the authoritative text thereof.

12. The purport of Article 348 is that while all Acts and Bills passed by the Legislatures of the State are primarily liable to be published in the English language, this does not impinge upon the right of a particular State to use any other language other than English in respect of Bills introduced or Acts passed by the Legislature of that State. The issue however, which arises is which of the versions would prevail in case of conflict. This issue is no longer res integra insofar as this High Court is concerned and stands authoritatively ruled upon by a Five Judge Bench of the Court in Smt. Ram Rati and others v. Gram Samaj, Jehwa and others, AIR 1974 All 106.. The Full Bench in Ram Rati was faced with an apparent conflict between the Hindi and English versions of the U.P Consolidation of Holdings (Amendment) Act 1958. This issue was answered by the Full Bench in the following terms:

"14. Under this Article two things have been provided. Firstly all proceedings in the Supreme Court and in every High Court have to be in the English language except when under Clause (2) the Governor of a State with the previous consent of the President authorises the use of the Hindi language or any other local language in proceedings in the High Court of that State. We are not concerned with that question in this case. Secondly the authoritative text of all Bills and Acts of the Parliament and of the State Legislature has to be in the English language. However, the State Legislatures are authorised to prescribe any language other than the English language for this purpose, but, in such an event Clause (3) provides that a translation in the English language of any Bill introduced in or Act passed by a State Legislature in a language other than the English language has to be published under the authority of the Governor of the State in the Official Gazette of the state and such translation shall be deemed to be the authoritative text of such a Bill and Act.

Whenever a question arises as to what is the authoritative text of a particular Act or an Ordinance etc., of a State Legislature one has to turn to its English translation if it was enacted in a language other than the English language. The authoritative text of a Bill, Act or Ordinance of a State Legislature cannot be in a language other than the English language unless the Parliament by law otherwise provides. Thus the power to declare that the authoritative text of any Ordinance, Act etc., of a State Legislative shall, be in a language other than the English language has been vested exclusively in the Parliament. The Parliament has not made any such provision so far. The official language of the State of Uttar Pradesh is Hindi, so that the Legislature of this State can pass Ordinance, Acts etc., in the Hindi Language. Thus even though the U. P. Consolidation of Holdings Act was passed by the State Legislature in Hindi, yet its translation in the English Language shall be regarded its authoritative text and shall prevail over its Hindi version.

16. The other argument is that in clause (3) of Article 348 the use of words "notwithstanding anything in Sub clause (b) of Clause (1)" suggests that this clause will override Clause (1). This interpretation is not correct. It only means that a State Legislature may prescribe any language other than the English Language for use in Bills introduced in or Acts passed by the State Legislature and that Clause (1) (b) shall not create an impediment in its way. As we have already indicated above, when a Bill is introduced or an Act is passed in a language other than the English language by a State Legislature, an authoritative translation thereof in the English language has to be provided and that translation shall for the purposes of Clause (1) (b) be deemed to be the authoritative text thereof. Indeed, it will be beyond the competence of a State Legislature to provide that the authoritative text of its Act and Ordinance etc., shall be in a language other than the English language, because such a power vests only in the Parliament. Thus, when there is a conflict between the English version of a Statute of a State Legislature and its version in a local language, the version in English language will prevail over the version in the local language. A Division Bench of this court in Saghir Ahmad v. Govt. of the State of U. P., AIR 1954 All 257 while referring to Article 348 of the Constitution has at page 278 in paragraph 83 observed:

"In view of this provision of the Constitution the notification appearing in English must prevail over the notification appearing in Hindi."

17. A Full Bench of this Court in Jaswant Sugar Mills Ltd., Meerut v. Presiding Officer, Industrial Tribunal (III) U. P. Allahabad, AIR 1962 AH 240 (FB) has held that in U. P. after the passing of the U. P. Acts No. 1 of 1950 (U. P. Language Bills Act) and 26 of 1951 (U. P. Official Language Act) the State Legislature has prescribed Hindi as the language for the official use in the State, and both, the Hindi version as also the English translation of a Bill or Act etc., published in the Official Gazette are valid and authorised and both of them can be looked into and put to official use. There is no competition between the two. It is only in case of conflict or divergence between the two versions that the English version may reign supreme and supersede the Hindi one.

19. This being the position we are clearly of the opinion that in the present case it is the English text which shall prevail over the Hindi version and according to the English text the expression "any holding" occurring in Clause (ii) of Section 5 (1) (c) of the Act does not include the "Whole holding" so that it is not necessary to obtain the permission of the Settlement Officer (Consolidation) for the transfer of the holding as a whole."

(emphasis supplied)

This aspect was also considered in M/s Park Leather Industry (P) Ltd. and another v. State of U.P. & others, (2001) 3 SCC 135. when the Supreme Court dealt with this issue and clearly held that in case of conflict between the Hindi and English versions of a legislation framed by the State of U.P., it is the English version which would prevail. This issue was answered by the Supreme Court thus:

"23. Even otherwise our above view is supported by the Hindi version of the definition. As has been set out in the case of Krishi Utpadan Mandi Samiti (Supra), it is well known in U.P. all legislations are in Hindi. Of course an English version simultaneously published. Undoubtedly if there is conflict between the two than the English version would prevail. However, if there is no conflict then one can always have assistance of the Hindi version in order to find out whether the word used in English includes a particular item or not. In the Hindi version the word used is 'Chamra'. There can be no dispute that the term 'Chamra' would include 'leather' in all its forms."

13. From the principles enunciated in Ram Rati and Park Leather Industry, it is therefore, clear that while in the case of ambiguity, it may be open to a Court to refer to the Hindi version of a statute, in case of conflict, it is the English version which would prevail and as the Full Bench noted "reign supreme". The submission of Sri Jain that the usage of the phrase "aata chakki" in the Hindi version would exclude a roller flour mill from the ambit of the Adhiniyam is not liable to be countenanced and is therefore, turned down.

We have found ourselves unable to sustain the submission of Sri Jain even otherwise in light of the definition of "chakki" and "aatta Mill" as explained in the Law Dictionary by Dansingh Suganchand Choudhary and the Legal Glossary published by the Law Department of the Union Government respectively. The word "Chakki" is defined by the Law Dictionary as under: 'LANGUAGE' Grinding stone/Mill 'LANGUAGE'

Similarly the word "aata mill" is defined by the Legal Glossary as under:

'LANGUAGE' 'flour mill"

14. From the above definitions, it is apparent that there is no intrinsic or inherent difference between a "flour mill" and the words "vkVk pDdh". Both are terms which are generic in nature and would encompass all mills where flour is produced. The mere fact that a roller flour mill by virtue of a single process of manufacturing may be enabled to convert wheat into Aata, maida, suji and bran would not denude it of the character of being a flour mill as envisaged under Section 239. Since Section 239 empowers the Zila Panchayat to regulate the establishment and running of a flour mill, the petitioner is clearly obliged to obtain a licence for the business and industry undertaken by it. The submissions to the contrary as urged by Sri Jain are accordingly negatived.

15. The submissions of Sri Kshitij Shailendra and Sri T.A. Khan, learned counsels appearing in the connected matters and who have raised the issue of the license fee lacking a quid pro quo and being excessive now fall for determination. At the very outset, it becomes relevant to bear in mind that the fee in question is being imposed and collected by the Zila Panchayat for the issuance of a license. A license is issued by a statutory authority to regulate a trade, industry or business. License fee is therefore liable to be viewed as distinct from a "fee for services". It is in this sense that it is described as a "regulatory fee". A regulatory fee need not answer the test of a quid pro quo which is a test which may be relevant while testing the validity of a levy of a "fee for services". A fee for regulation of activity is none the less classifiable as a fee even though no services are rendered. No element of quid pro quo is required for such a fee. This aspect was lucidly explained by the Supreme Court in Delhi Race Club Ltd. v. Union of India, (2012) 8 SCC 680 wherein it was held:

"37. It is pertinent to note that in Liberty Cinema (supra), the Court had identified the existence of two distinct kinds of fee and traced its presence to the Constitution itself. It was observed that in our Constitution, fee for licence and fee for services rendered are contemplated as different kinds of levy. The former is not intended to be a fee for services rendered. This is apparent from a bare reading of Articles 110(2) and 199(2) of the Constitution, where both the expressions are used, indicating thereby that they are not the same. Quoting Shannon v. Lower Mainland Dairy Products Board, with approval, it was observed thus :

"if licences are granted, it appears to be no objection that fees should be charged in order either to defray the costs of administering the local regulation or to increase the general funds of the Province or for both purposes. It cannot, as their Lordships think, be an objection to a licence plus a fee that it is directed both to the regulation of trade and to the provision of revenue."

38. The same principle was reiterated in Secunderabad Hyderabad Hotels Owners' Association case (supra) where the existence of two types of fee and the distinction between them has been highlighted as follows:

"9.It is, by now, well settled that a licence fee may be either regulatory or compensatory. When a fee is charged for rendering specific services, a certain element of quid pro quo must be there between the service rendered and the fee charged so that the licence fee is commensurate with the cost of rendering the service although exact arithmetical equivalence is not expected. However, this is not the only kind of fee which can be charged. Licence fee can also be regulatory when the activities for which a licence is given require to be regulated or controlled. The fee which is charged for regulation for such activity would be validly classifiable as a fee and not a tax although no service is rendered. An element of quid pro quo for the levy of such fees is not required although such fees cannot be excessive."

(Emphasis Supplied)

41. On the question whether the element of quid pro quo, as it is understood in common legal parlance, was applicable to a regulatory fee, as in that case, speaking for the bench, D.P. Mohapatra, J., concluded thus :

"32. From the conspectus of the views taken in the decided cases noted above it is clear that the impugned licence fee is regulatory in character. Therefore, stricto sensu the element of quid pro quo does not apply in the case. The question to be considered is if there is a reasonable correlation between the levy of the licence fee and the purpose for which the provisions of the Act and the Rules have been enacted/framed. As noted earlier, the High Court has answered the question in the affirmative. We have carefully examined the provisions of the Act and the Rules and also the pleadings of the parties. We find that the High Court has given cogent and valid reasons for the findings recorded by it and the said findings do not suffer from any serious illegality. It is our considered view that the licence fee has correlation with the purpose for which the statute and the rules have been enacted."

42. Thus, it is clear that a licence fee imposed for regulatory purposes is not conditioned by the fact that there must be a quid pro quo for the services rendered, but that, such licence fee must be reasonable and not excessive. It would again not be possible to work out with arithmetical equivalence the amount of fee which could be said to be reasonable or otherwise. If there is a broad correlation between the expenditure which the State incurs and the fees charged, the fees could be sustained as reasonable."

16. The submission of learned counsels therefore, that the imposition of the licence fee is liable to be struck down on the ground of it lacking the element of a quid pro quo does not commend acceptance.

17. The next submission which needs to be noticed is the contention that the levy of the fee is excessive and therefore, arbitrary. From the pleadings taken in the writ petitions, we find absolutely no material which may establish the assertion of the petitioners that the quantum of the fee is excessive. The only bald averment made in the writ petition is that in case the impugned levy is not struck down, the petitioners would be compelled to close their business and that absolutely no service of any nature is provided by the Zila Panchayat to them. This Court finds itself unable to either consider or sustain a challenge to a levy on this state of the pleadings. In order to sustain a challenge to the levy of a regulatory fee, it was incumbent upon the petitioners to demonstrate by way of cogent material that the fee had transitioned from being a fee for recompense for the activity of regulation and had in fact transcended or partaken the character of being a compulsory exaction aimed at the augmentation of the revenue of the Zila Panchayat. Only then would it have been possible for this Court to conclude that the fee had shed its character of being a "fee for regulation" and had metamorphosed to the status and character of a tax. However, as noted above, no such material evidence has been placed on the record nor have the learned counsels drawn our attention to any evidence in support of their contentions. As noted above, except for a bald allegation of the petitioners being compelled to close their business, no material or evidence in support thereof has been placed on the record. Even the turnover or nature of profits earned by the petitioners from their industry have not been disclosed. There is also no allegation in the writ petition that the fee recovered by the Zila Panchayat far outstrips the expenses incurred by it in regulating the establishment and regulation of a flour mill or the other trades in which the petitioners before us are engaged. In absence of any valid or cogent material which may establish and prove the excessiveness of the levy, this Court finds itself unable to sustain the submissions made in this regard.

18. That leave this Court to deal with the reliance placed by Sri Shailendra on the judgment rendered by the Division Bench of the Court in Uttar Pradesh Udyog Vyapar Pratinidhi Mandal. Sri Shailendra has placed reliance upon the principles formulated by the Division Bench in paragraph 9 of the report to submit that it was clearly held that a fee must be informed by the element of a quid pro quo. The Division Bench after making the said observation had proceeded to hold that the Zila Panchayat therein did not have the authority or jurisdiction to l

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evy a fee on vehicles transporting minerals. This very judgment of the Division Bench was noticed by the Full Bench of the Court in B. Agarwal Stone Produce Ltd. v. State of U.P., (2007) 5 All LJ 544. and disapproved. This would be evident from paragraphs 52 and 53 of the judgment rendered by the Full Bench which read as follows: "52. The contention of Dr. Singhvi, learned Senior Counsel for the petitioner is that the Zila panchayat can impose fee under Section 142 of the Act only on such use of occupation as are prescribed under Section 239(2) of the Act. In this connection he pointed out that the limitations are prescribed under 'CStreets' contained in Section 239(2) of the Act and mere passing or repassing of the vehicles on public road is not covered under this. In our opinion, Section 142(1) is an independent section which empowers the Zila Panchayat to charge fee to be fixed by the byelaws for use and occupation of the public road. Section 239(1) of the Zila Panchayat Act clearly empowers the Zila Panchayat to make bye-laws for its own purposes in respect of matters required by this Act to be governed by byelaws. Thus, in view of Section 142(1) of the Zila Panchayat Act read with Section 239(1) of the Zila Panchayat Act, the Zila Panchayat can frame bye-laws without prejudice to the generality of the power public road Section 239(1) of the Zila Panchayat Act. In such circumstances Panchayat to make byelaws without prejudice to the generality of the power conferred by Section, 239(1) of the Zila Panchayat, Act. In such circumstances the contention of the learned Senior Counsel for the petitioner that the power to frame bye-laws under Section 142(1) of the Zila Panchayat Act is circumscribed by the conditions contained in Section 239(2) of the Act and in particular to 'C-Streets' cannot be accepted. 53. Learned Senior Counsel for the petitioner further contended that in view of the decisions of this Court in Uttar Pradesh Udyog Vyapari Pratinidhi Mandal and Ors. v. State of U.P. and Ors. (2003) 1 UP LBEC 718 and in view of the decision of the Supreme Court in Nagar Mahapalika, varanasi v. Durga Das Bhattacharya and Ors. , the Zila Panchayat cannot charge fees for use of road since providing this facility is a statutory function of the Zila Panchayat. This contention, cannot also be accepted since 'Public Road' in Section 2(37) of the Zila Panchayat Act has been defined to mean any road over which the public in general have a legally enforceable right to way and it is vested in or maintained by a Government or local authority." 19. Even otherwise the validity of a regulatory fee is itself liable to be tested in light of the authoritative pronouncement of the Supreme Court in Delhi Race Club Ltd. noted by us above. We have already held that the impost in question does not fall foul of the basic characteristics of a regulatory fee as elucidated by the Supreme Court in Delhi Race Club Ltd. 20. Accordingly and for all the reasons noted above, we find no merit in the instant writ petitions. They shall consequently stand dismissed. Interim orders granted, if any, shall stand discharged.
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