Supreme Court has made extraordinary acknowledgement that its various interim orders in favour of big corporate houses such as Adani, Essar and Vedanta may have deprived governments thousands of crores of rupees.
A bench headed by Chief Justice TS Thakur, on Friday said, “Matters are pending before this court because they have been referred to larger benches. There are stay orders of this court in favour of big companies like Essar and Vedanta at the cost of poor states like Orissa where this money could have been utilised for various schemes.”
Indian Express reported that the apex court indicated it will review all such orders that may have been eventually working in favour of the companies because the point of law was pending adjudication.
The bench, also comprising Justice Uday U Lalit, said it would want to estimate the gravity of the problem since money that was due to various public authorities was stuck for a very long time.
National Aluminum Company Limited had filed a plea citing a 2013 order by the court whereby companies like Vedanta, Essar and Adani were asked to pay only 50 per cent of the total tax demand since 2008. The SC, in its interim order, had also excluded the penalty amount because the validity of entry tax was referred to a nine-judge Constitution Bench.
Orissa’s Entry Act allows entry tax to be levied on imported goods while also allowing the state to levy a tax, not exceeding 12 percent of the purchase value, on entry of goods for consumption, use or sale in the state.
But the validity of this law has been challenged by a several companies.
NALCO, on Friday, argued that the bench also allow it deposit just 50 percent of the total tax demand. This prompted the bench to ask for the quantum of money that had been prevented from coming to the Orissa government’s coffers because of its order three years ago.
It asked, “What should have been the total money deposited by them with the state government? We have difficulties in constituting a nine-judge bench but stay orders like this cannot act for years together in favour of companies like Essar and Adani. We are inclined to vacate the stay order. We may ask all the companies to pay the total tax demand and penalty amount can be excluded till we decide the matter finally.”
The bench directed counsel for the Orissa government to ask Chief Commercial Tax Commissioner to set out details of entry tax owed by all the companies. It also clarified that the officer will have to show up personally if he fails to submit the records by 1 April.