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Interim tax pay-up order on twin halls

A division bench of Calcutta High Court on Monday directed the management of the twin New Market cinemas, New Empire and Lighthouse, to pay Rs 2 lakh each to the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) by Friday, as part of their property-tax dues.

The bench, comprising Justice S. Bannerjee and P.N. Sinha, passed the directive on the basis of an appeal by the civic authorities. The CMC had challenged an interim order, passed by Justice B. Bhattacharya, staying two notices threatening to disconnect the waterlines of the two halls if the tax dues, of around Rs 50 lakh, were not cleared.

CMC counsel Ashok Das Adhikari told the bench that the hall-owners had failed to pay up despite several reminders. “The civic authorities have no option but to disconnect the water connections to the halls,” he argued.

Paul Mantosh, advocate for the hall-owners, claimed that the CMC’s demand for Rs 50 lakh from the two halls was “illegitimate”, as his clients had already paid their property tax. The bench then directed the hall-owner to submit documents relating to the payment, which they could not furnish readily.

The bench gave the respondents time till next Monday’s hearing, but directed the halls to cough up an interim payment of Rs 4 lakh to the CMC.

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