The Bombay High Court Wednesday provided no relief to the Haji Ali Dargah Trust while hearing a plea filed by a member of the trust challenging the state’s notice asking it to pay Rs 1.88 crore as dues from the income generated by it from allowing mobile towers on its premises. Justice R G Ketkar was hearing a petition filed by Abdul Sattar Merchant of the Haji Ali Trust, challenging the notice issued by the City Collector’s office in May 2017. While dismissing the petition, the court held that the notice and the demand made by the collector’s office were authorised and valid.
The trust had moved the High Court in May, seeking a stay on the notice directing the trust to pay Rs 1.88 crore to the state, 50 per cent of the revenue that it had generated from the mobile towers. Appearing for the state, Hiten Venegaonkar had pointed out that under the state’s rules, in case anyone leases out space to cellular companies to install mobile phone towers or other equipment, one needed to pay fifty percent of the revenue generated to the state.
The trust, however, claimed that such a rule applied only to housing societies and not to a religious or charitable trust. According to them, in 2009, the trust gave a small portion of the land on lease and licence to four cellular companies and the income thus generated was used by the trust for the benefit of the community at large.
The state government and the collector’s office, meanwhile, argued that the trust’s plea was not maintainable in the High Court since the Mumbai Revenue Tribunal had jurisdiction over such matters.