Published on: 14 November 2022 at 20:09 IST
The Bombay High Court recently ordered the Additional Chief Secretary of Maharashtra’s revenue department to consider a representation from a lawyer in order to allotment of new authorized stamp vendor license and e-stamp facility for Mumbai city (primarily Fort area) for public convenience, noting that “dearth of stamp paper vendors could pose problems for many people.”
The bench requested that the official make a decision regarding the representation as soon as possible, ideally within eight weeks.
The order was issued on Thursday by a division bench composed of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Madhav J Jamdar while deciding a PIL filed by Swapnil Sadhu Kadam, an attorney who argued through Uday Warunjikar and Sumit Kate.
The PIL requested state-wide e-stamping facilities similar to those in Delhi’s National Capital Region (NCR) and other states.
It also requested an investigation into the alleged illegal sale and purchase of stamp papers throughout the state by certain recalcitrant stamp vendors and sought adequate stamp vendors in Mumbai in light of the growing population and litigation. Stamp papers are utilized for the execution of archives including arrangements, deal deeds and testimonies.
In its response, the state government stated, “it is true that presently stamp vendor licenses in Mumbai city are smaller in number but, over a period of time, there is also a decrease in demand for physical stamp paper purchase due to digital options made available to deposit stamp duty in government treasury,” which resulted in a decrease in the number of private vendors.
In addition, the revenue department stated that out of Rs 9,259 crore in stamp duty revenue for the city of Mumbai in 2020 and beyond, Rs 9,102 crore came from E-challans, Rs 94 crore (1.02 percent) from franking machines, and Rs 63 crore (0.68 percent) from physical stamp papers.
It stated that the number of buyers is higher for franking and physical stamped papers due to the unique requirement for single Rs 100 or Rs 500 papers, which cannot be compared to bulk stamp duty purchases or sales of immovable properties. As a result, customers must line up to purchase stamp papers, which results in long lines.
The bench stated that it would not investigate the issue further because the state government must make the policy decision to address the petitioner’s concerns, and the court should not issue any mandatory instructions in this regard.
However, the bench stated that “considering that dearth of stamp vendors could pose problems for many and also in view of the petitioner’s submission, we are of the considered view that interest of justice would be sufficiently served if this PIL petition is disposed of with directions,” which included taking the representation into consideration.