(Prayer: The Writ Petition is filed under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, to issue a Writ of Certiorarified Mandamus, calling for the records pertaining to the impugned notice in Na.Ka.No.TP4/2819/2008, dated 27.08.2010, on the file of the Respondent No.2 and quash the same as illegal and consequently direct the respondent No.2, to receive the licence fee of a sum of Rs.1,05,500/- per year.)
1. By consent, the Writ Petition is taken up for final disposal.
2. The petitioner accorded licence to put up Hoardings / Advertisement Boards and also installation of Surveillance Camera and the licence is valid till 31.03.2010. Prior to the expiry of licence, the petitioner vide application, dated 09.06.2009, prayed for renewal of the licence and also sought 'No Objection Certificate' from the first respondent and also paid a sum of Rs.1,05,500/-. The petitioner would further state that the officials of the Tirunelveli City Municipal Corporation had removed many advertisement boards within their limits, claiming that all of them were unauthorised one, overlooking the fact that the petitioner was accorded licence to install Advertisement Boards / Hoardings along with Surveillance Camera, which also help the jurisdictional Police, to deduct and prevent the commission of offences.
3. The petitioner, on an earlier occasion, had filed W.P.No.4718 of 2009, praying for issuance of a Writ of Mandamus, forbearing the Corporation as well as the police from removing the Camera and Mike on a pole put up by them and the said Writ Petition along with W.P.(MD)No.10739 of 2008 filed by M/s. Bill Board Advertising Private Limited, Chennai - 18, came to be dismissed, granting liberty to the petitioner herein to approach the District Collector, Tirunelveli and the Commissioner of Tirunelveli City Municipal Corporation, praying for necessary licence and permission afresh to erect hoardings along with Camera and Mike.
4. Accordingly, the petitioner has applied on 11.06.2009 and the Zonal Office of Tirunelveli City Municipal Corporation vide notice, dated 23.06.2010 has informed the petitioner that they have to apply afresh to the District Collector as well as the Commissioner of City Municipal Corporation and further indicating that necessary steps will be taken to collect the penalty also. The petitioner has sent a response dated 30.08.2010 stating that the renewal of licence has been prayed for, for a period of three years and therefore, requested them to pass appropriate orders.
5. The grievance expressed by the petitioner is that the second respondent vide the impugned notice dated 27.08.2010 in Na.Ka.No.DP4/2819/2008, has called upon the petitioner to remit the arrears of licence fee of Rs.4,22,000/- for a period between 01.04.2008 and 31.03.2010 and also levied cent percent penalty and called upon to remit a sum of Rs.8,44,000/-, within a period of one week. Challenging the legality of the same, the present Writ Petition is filed.
6. The learned counsel appearing for the petitioner would submit that admittedly, for a period between 01.04.2008 and 31.03.2010, the amount works out to Rs.3,16,500/- whereas, a sum of Rs.4,22,000/- has been demanded and it is a wrong calculation and would further submit that for the purpose of levying cent percent penalty, neither the Tamil Nadu Urban Local Bodies Licensing of Hoardings and Levy and Collection of Advertisement Tax Rules, 2003 nor the conditions of licence would enable them to levy such a penalty. It is also contended by the learned counsel appearing for the petitioner that during pendency of the Writ Petition, the Deputy Commissioner (Crime and Traffic), Tirunelveli City Police, has accorded No Objection, vide proceedings, dated 09.06.2016 and he is also ready and willing to pay arrears of licence fee, for the period between 13.12.2007 and 31.03.2011, aggregating to a sum of Rs.4,22,000/- and on such payment, the Corporation officials may be directed to consider his application for grant of licence and insofar as the penalty is concerned, prays for setting aside the same.
7. Per contra, the learned counsels who appears for the respondents have invited the attention of this Court to the counter affidavit of the first respondent and would contend that arrears of licence fee to the tune of Rs.4,22,000/- between 30.12.2007 and 31.03.2011 and since he did not pay the same on time, cent per cent penalty of Rs.4,22,000/- was levied and therefore, the petitioner is due and payable a sum of Rs.8,44,000/-.
8. This Court has considered the rival submissions and perused the materials placed before it.
9. The Deputy Commissioner of Crime and Traffic, vide proceedings, dated 09.06.2009, accorded No Objection for installation of hoardings and surveillance camera. Admittedly, the petitioner has submitted an application for seeking necessary licence / permission to erect hoardings along with surveillance camera and mike, in terms of the order dated 22.12.2009 made in W.P.(MD)No.4718 of 2009 and the only impediment appears to be non-payment of arrears of licence fee as well as the penalty.
10. In the light of the submission made by the learned counsel appearing for the petitioner, on instructions, that he is ready and willing to pay arrears of licence fee of Rs.4,22,000/- for the period between 13.12.2007 and 31.03.2011, this Court is of the view that the said amount can be received by the Tirunelveli City Municipal Corporation.
11. Insofar as the levy of penalty is concerned, admittedly, no show- cause notice has been issued to the petitioner as to the relevant statutory provision / clauses, in and by which, it is sought to be levied and it is open to the Tirunelveli City Municipal Corporation to issue show-cause notice, quoting the relevant clauses / statutory provision, in any by which they sought to levy cent percent penalty on account of the licence fee not being paid on time, and as and when the petitioner receive such a notice, it is open to him to response the same and thereafter, the said Corporation shall give a disposal in accordance with law.
12. It is also made clear that dehorse issuance of show-cause notice for levying penalty, the Tirunelveli City Municipal Corporation, on receipt of arrears of licence fee, as stated above, shall process the application independently and pass orders in accordance with law, within a period of one month from the date of receipt of arrears of the licence fee and communicate the decision taken, to the petitioner.
13. The Writ Petition is disposed of accordingly. No costs. Consequently, connected miscellaneous petitions are closed.