SC stays UPís penalty on Idea Cellular for deficient stamp duty

In a relief to telecom major Idea Cellular, the Supreme Court has restrained the Uttar Pradesh government from taking any coercive action against the company for recovering alleged deficient stamp duty payable on lease agreements for installing its networks.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Altamas Kabir while issuing notice to the state government and others stayed the levy of deficient stamp duty allegedly payable by Idea Cellular on licence agreements with private persons for installing mobile towers on their roofs.

The telecom firm had challenged the Allahabad High Court's judgment that held that the licence agreements were licence deeds, thus, stamp duty was payable. However, the HC had reduced the penalty to 25% of the total alleged deficiency of stamp duty and observed that there was no concealment of facts by the company nor any malafide intention to evade the tax. The company said that such penalty was "arbitrary and illegal".

According to the petition, as per the terms of the licence agreements, no interest in the property was created in favour of the company and the agreements only permitted it to make use of the property.

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