Kerala High Court on Thursday issued an interim stay of three weeks on the Lakshadweep administration’s order hiking stamp duty for property transactions.
A native of Amini islands in Lakshadweep, Mohammed Salih P.M., had in his petition sought a stay on the collector’s order citing lack of jurisdiction and other improprieties on the native people belonging to the Scheduled Tribes.
Justice Raja Vijayaraghavan granted the stay against the implementation of the hike in stamp duty from 1 per cent to 6 per cent for women, 7 per cent for men and 8 per cent for others.
The petitioner, who is a practising lawyer in the high court, said the stay order would help the local people conduct property transactions at the existing rate of 1 per cent pending further orders.
The administration has been given two weeks to file its response after which the case would be heard again.
“My contention was that the collector did not have the power to issue such an order as only a state or the Union government can do so,” Salih told The Telegraph on Thursday.
Salih had cited violation of the Indian Stamp Act and The Laccadive, Minicoy and Amindivi (Protection of Scheduled Tribes) Regulation, 1964, in arguing against the steep hike in stamp duty.
“Since a vast majority of the people of Lakshadweep earn their livelihood from fishing and selling coconuts and its produce like fibre, such a steep and arbitrary hike in stamp duty is unscientific,” he said.
Salih said he stumbled upon the revised stamp duty rates and the order dated May 5 while trying to execute a property transfer from his father.
It is just one of the many executive orders and draft legislations issued after Praful Khoda Patel, a hugely controversial administrator, took charge in December.
The high court had on Tuesday stayed the demolition of over 70 houses in Kavaratti after a petitioner cited lack of jurisdiction as the order had been issued by a block development officer (BDO).
That was quickly followed by an order from the collector granting the Kavaratti BDO the powers of a deputy collector in an apparent move to skirt the court order.
Kerala High Court had last week stayed two other orders to remove meat from midday meals for schoolstudents and close down dairy farms.
The islanders have been on the warpath against Patel and his arbitrary reforms that have affected normal life in the Union Territory.