D.V. SHYLENDRA KUMAR, J.
( 1 ) PETITIONER has sought for quashing of three demand notices under annexures-G, H and J, whereby the petitioner has been asked to pay certain amounts of additional stamp duty payable under Section 3-B of the Karnataka Stamp Act, 1957 ('the Act', for short) on the premise that such stamp duty paid in respect of three transactions referred to in the demand notices was less than what was actually due under Section 3-B of the Act and the petitioner was required to make good the difference.
( 2 ) PETITIONER being aggrieved by this demand notice, has approached this Court for relief on the premise that the demand is not in consonance with the provisions of the Act, but in fact is in contravention of a notification dated 16-6-1999 issued by the Government in exercise of its power under Section 9 (l) (a) of the Act and these demand notices are required to be quashed and the petitioner is not liable to make good this amount.
( 3 ) THE State Government has been conferred the power to reduce stamp duty payable under the Act upto 50% or any part of it either prospectively or retrospectively with reference to any area in the State if the State Government is of the opinion that it is necessary to do so in public interest. The exemption could be with reference to a particular class of instruments or with reference to a particular class of persons in whose favour the instrument is executed.
( 4 ) THE area of controversy is limited and requires to be resolved on an interpretation of this notification dated 16-6-1999 issued under Section 9 (l) (b) of the Act. The controversy is that while the petitioner-claims that this exemption notification extends the benefit of such concession in respect of levy of additional duty payable under Section 3-B of the Act also and not merely levy of duty under Section 3 of the Act, the stand on behalf of the respondents is that the exemption under the notification is confined to levy of stamp duty under Section 3 of the Act and it does not extend to the additional stamp duty levied and collected under Section 3-B of the Act. Though the petitioner could have been relegated to the normal procedure of contesting the demand notices in accordance with the provisions of the statute, as the only question that arises for determination is dependent on the interpretation of the notification and in the light of the provisions of Section 9 of the Act, matter is taken up for consideration even under Article 226 of the Constitution of India.
( 5 ) RULE is issued in the matter.
( 6 ) A common statement of objections has been filed on behalf of the respondents namely, the State of Karnataka, the first respondent and the Sub-Registrar, K.R. Puram, Bangalore, the second respondent, jointly reiterating the stand in support of the demand.
( 7 ) I had occasion to hear this matter at length on earlier occasions and after such hearing, I had passed on order on 1-8-2003, which reads as under. "Petitioner claims to have purchased three parcels of immovable properties from Messrs Information Technology Park Limited, as per three sale deeds all dated 13-12-2000 and sale consideration as indicated in the three documents are Rs. 15,64,16,080/-, Rs. 11,61,98,726/- and Rs. 23,53,650/- respectively. These documents were presented for registration on the same day before the Sub- registrar at KR. Puram, Bangalore and it is claimed that the petitioner had paid the required stamp duty of Rs. 62,37,680/-, Rs. 46,28,960/- and Rs. 75,160/- respectively. These documents on being presented for registration have been assigned pending registration numbers as P. 115, P. 116 and P. 117 of 2000-01 respectively by the Sub-Registrar. 2. The grievance of the petitioner is that the Sub-Registrar instead of registering the documents as is required under the provisions of the Registration Act has subsequently issued three demand notices calling upon the petitioner to pay an additional stamp duty of Rs. 90,22,060/- (Rupees Ninety lakhs twenty-two thousand and sixty only) in respect of the document pending registration in No. 115/00-01, Rs. 2,31,460/- in respect of the document pending registration in P. 116/01 and Rs. 3,765/- in respect of the pending document P. 117/00-01 as per Annexures-G, H and J respectively. It is aggrieved by these notices calling upon the petitioner to pay such additional stamp duty and postponing the registration of the documents for non-payment of these amounts that the petitioner has approached this Court praying for quashing of these three notices and for a further direction to the registering authority the Sub-Registrar to register the documents without insisting on paying the additional stamp duty indicated in these notices. 3. Sri A. S. Bopanna, learned Counsel for the petitioner has submitted that the demands on the face of it are not sustainable, that the insistence on the part of the respondents for payment of these additional stamp duty is not supported by any legal provisions, that in the light of the exemption notification in No. 407 of 1998, dated 16-6-1999 issued under Section 9 (l) (a) of the Karnataka stamp Act, 1957 which specifically exempts duty upto 50% on the stamp duty payable in respect of transactions referred to in that notification and for a period of 3 years from the notification, that the transactions of the petitioner being when the notification was in operation and that the petitioner is entitled for extension of this benefit and in the matter of computation of the stamp duty payable under Section 3 of the Act has denied such concession in respect of additional stamp duty payable under Section 3-B of the act and the action of the respondents militates against such notification and as such demands are liable to be quashed and a mandamus prayed for should be issued. 4. Statement of objections has been filed on behalf of the respondents contending that the transactions referred to was not in dispute, the amount of stamp duty already paid also is not disputed, that the demand notices for the stamp duty payable is justified on the ground that the exemption notification does not extend such benefits in respect of additional stamp duty. A further clarification is also made indicating that payment of additional stamp duty at a sum of Rs. 90,22,060/- under Annexure-G, dated 20-3-2001 was a mistake and the actual amount was only Rs. 3,11,852/- and the demand at Annexure-H should be at Rs. 2,31,448/- as against Rs. 2,31,460/- and the demand at Annexure-J is only at Rs. 3,758/- as against Rs. 3,765/ -. 5. The only question is as to whether the petitioner is entitled for any exemption as claimed, under the Government notification dated 16-6-1999 issued under Section 9 (l) (a) of the Act. 6. Petition averments prima facie indicate that the three transactions are transactions of a conveyance in favour of the petitioner by the Information Technology Park Limited, which was the first transaction of sale in favour of the petitioner. This is very clear from the petition averments. The exemption notification indicates that in respect of stamp duty payable on transactions which are conveyances for the second time in respect of the properties located in the place developed/laid out by the Information Technology park Limited, White Field, there is a concession of 50% of the stamp duty payable on such a transaction for a period of 3 years. Petitioner has averred that the documents presented for registration are in respect of the second transaction of transfer in respect of the properties of Information Technology Park Limited at White field. Though it is not made clear in the petition averments as to how these transactions constitute second transaction, Sri Bopanna, learned Counsel for the petitioner seeks to substantiate these averments by submitting that the entire area in question had been initially sold by the Karnataka Industrial Area Development board in favour of the Information Technology Park Limited, as per sale deed dated 28th November, 1997 and this was the first sale and from out of such land purchased by the Information technology Park Limited, they have developed the same and have been selling portions of the same to different persons and the petitioner being one such person the transaction is a second transaction of sale and as such petitioner qualifies for the exemption under the Government Notification at Annexure-N, dated 16-6-1999. It is the further submission of the learned Counsels for the petitioner that when the exemption is in respect of total stamp duty payable, a distinction cannot be made between the stamp duty payable under Section 3 and an additional stamp duty levied under Section 3-B of the Act. 7. A reading of the exemption notification dated 16-6-1999 indicates that it is in respect of land developed by the Information technology Park Limited, White Field, Bangalore and with regard to the transaction involving such property, the second transaction of the transfer of the property qualifies for exemption at 50% of the stamp duty. Prima facie petitioner does not qualify for the exemption at all under this notification. The authority obviously was under the impression that the petitioner qualifies for such exemption and has collected the stamp duty only at 50%. It is necessary that the respondents should clarify this position and to indicates as to whether the transaction of the nature between the petitioner and the Information Technology Park Limited, under the three sale deeds referred to earlier qualify for exemption under the notification dated 16-6-1999 or any other notification. 8. The attitude and conduct of the respondents in the matter of collecting stamp duty appears to be quite casual and even negligent. I am also not happy with the assistance that the Court is provided and in the manner of defending the matters of this nature. The Secretary to the Revenue Department, the 1st respondent and Sub-Registrar, KR. Puram, the 2nd respondent are directed to be present in person before this Court on 6-8-2003 at 10. 30 A. M. Learned Advocate General is requested to assist the court. In the matter, which involves considerable revenue to the state exchequer. 9. Furnish a copy of this order to the learned Government Advocate and to ensure the presence of respondents 1 and 2 before the court on 6-8-2003. 10. Call on 6-8-2003".
( 8 ) THE learned Advocate General has, subsequent to this order, appeared on behalf of the respondents and made submissions. An additional affidavit sworn to by Sri N. Anand Kumar, working as headquarter Sub-Registrar, K. R. Puram is placed on record along with a copy of the proceedings of the Government of Karnataka, dated 12-9-1996 as Annexure-R1 and a copy of the notification dated 16-6-1999 as Annexure-R2.
( 9 ) INSOFAR as the doubt raised by this Court and in respect of which a clarification had been sought for, respondents have clarified that the transactions of sale deeds in favour of the petitioner and by the Information technology Park Limited are in the nature of a second sale and it qualifies for the benefit of exemption as notified under the notification dated 16-6-1999. However, learned Advocate General has submitted that this notification does not extend any concession or exemption in respect of levy of additional duty payable under Section 3-B of the Act; that levy of duty under Section 3 is different from levy of additional duty under Section 3-B of the Act; that the additional duty is levied for a specific purpose, namely for augmenting capital in favour of Karnataka infrastructural Development and Finance Corporation and that it is a duty which is levied in addition to the normal duty leviable under Section 3 of the Act. Section 3-B of the Act reads as under. "3-B. Certain instruments chargeable with additional duty. (1) Any instrument of conveyance, exchange, settlement, gift or lease in perpetuity of immovable property chargeable with duty under Section 3 read with articles of the schedule shall, for a period of four years effective from the First day of April, 1998 be chargeable with additional duty at the rate of five per cent on such duty chargeable on such instrument of conveyance exchange, gift, settlement and lease in perpetuity for the purpose of equity investment in the Infrastructure Development Corporation (Karnataka) Limited and Bangalore Mass Rapid Transit Limited in the proportion of 67:33 respectively. (2) The additional duty chargeable under sub-section (1) shall be in addition to any duty chargeable under Section 3. (3) Except as otherwise provided in sub-section (1) provisions of this Act, shall so far as may be apply in relation to the additional duty chargeable under sub-section (1) as they apply in relation to the duty chargeable under Section 3".
( 10 ) LEARNED Advocate General has further submitted that the notification dated 16-6-1999 being in the nature of an exemption notification, should be construed strictly and its scope cannot be enlarged beyond what is contemplated in the notification itself; that the notification in itself does not expressly extend the benefit of exemption upto 50% in respect of any levy of additional stamp duty levied under Section 3-B of the Act; that in the absence of any such express wordings in the notification, the petitioner cannot claim such benefit on the levy of additional stamp duty; that the authorities, though had been requested by the petitioner to extend such benefit under the notification in respect of levy of additional stamp duty also, the same having been considered by the authorities and the authorities having found that the notification dated 16-6-1999 not providing for any such exemption in respect of levy of any additional duty under Section 3-B, had called upon the petitioner to pay the difference of additional stamp duty payable by the petitioner inasmuch as the petitioner at the time of the presentation of the sale deeds for registration, had paid even additional stamp duty payable on the instrument only at 50% claiming the benefit of exemption under the notification dated 16-6-1999. The learned Advocate General submitted that the demand is justified and in terms of the provisions of the Stamp act and has to be sustained.
( 11 ) SRI A. S. Bopanna, learned Counsel for the petitioner on the other hand has submitted that additional stamp duty, though leviable under section 3-B of the Act is nevertheless one of the duties spoken to and levied under the provisions of the very Act, that even as per sub-section (3) of Section 3-B of the Act, all other provisions of the Act are made applicable in respect of levy of additional stamp duty also; that the provisions of Section 9 therefore is equally applicable in respect of levy of additional stamp duty also; that the provisions of Section 9 therefore is equally applicable in respect of levy of additional duty under Section 3-B of the Act and no exception can be taken with regard to the manner of treating of levy of additional duty under Section 3-B of the Act in comparison to levy of stamp duty under Section 3 of the Act.
( 12 ) LEARNED Counsel, by pointing out to the contents and wordings of the notification dated 16-6-1999 submits that the concession or exemption that is given under this notification is in respect of class of transactions mentioned therein and on the total stamp duty payable on the transaction and that the concession/exemption is upto 50% of the stamp duty so paid.
( 13 ) THE notification expressly speaks of the total stamp duty payable under the Act and with reference to the category of transactions referred to in the notification itself. When once there is no dispute that the sale deeds in respect of which the demands have now been raised, are the types of transactions which are covered under the notification, the only other question is as to whether a distinction can be made with regard to the concession vis-?is levy of stamp duty and levy of additional stamp duty. The notification does not expressly mention either of stamp duty leviable under Section 3 or additional stamp duty leviable under Section 3-B of the Act. On the other hand, what all it says is that the total stamp duty payable in respect of the transactions the concession of 50% is extended. As the words used is "total stamp duty payable", obviously it should include the additional stamp duty levied and collected under section 3-B of the Act. If that were not to be the case, then there was no occasion to use the words "total stamp duty payable".
( 14 ) EVEN applying the principle that in respect of interpretation of exemption notifications granting concession in revenue matters, they should be given a strict construction. It cannot be said that extending of the notification dated 16-6-1999 to be applicable to levy of duty as well as additional stamp duty is in the nature of a liberal interpretation of the notification or amounts to enlarging the appl
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ication of the notification. No such exercise is either necessary or indulged in, when the wordings of the notification itself is looked into. The notification itself achieves the core object of granting exemption upto 50% on even additional stamp duty payable and to the class of transactions referred therein. ( 15 ) THE three transactions being clearly covered by the notification dated 16-6-1999 being of the nature of transactions referred to therein and also granting exemption upto 50% of the total stamp duty payable in respect of the transaction, I am of the view that the stand of the petitioner claiming exemption from levy of stamp duty even in respect of payment of additional stamp duty under Section 3-B of the Act is perfectly justified and in consonance with the notification. The demand raised under Annexures-G, H and J calling upon the petitioners to pay the difference of duty over and above what it had paid, is not sustainable in law and accordingly these demand notices are liable to be quashed. ( 16 ) THE only other question that remains for consideration is as to whether what should be done in respect of registration which has been held up for payment of such additional duty. Now that it has been held that the amount of stamp duty paid by the petitioners is sufficient to meet the stamp duty payable under the provisions of the Karnataka stamp Act, respondents are directed to complete the registration formalities within four weeks from the date of receipt of a copy of this order. ( 17 ) ANNEXURE-G, dated 20-3-2001 bearing P. No. 115/2000-01, annexure-H, dated 20-3-2001 bearing P. No. 116/2000-01, Annexure-J, dated 20-3-2001 bearing P. No. 117/2000-01, the demand notices issued by the second respondent, are quashed by issue of a writ of certiorari. ( 18 ) WRIT petitions are allowed. Rule made absolute.