Cable TV

Four national MSOs file writ petition against Ent Tax

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MUMBAI: Entertainment tax has become a bothersome issue for both MSOs and LCOs. Right from the amount of tax levied to ownership of collection, state government mandates have got the two cable TV factions locking horns. While government regulations mandate MSOs to collect tax from the LCOs and submit it, the LCOs would rather take the onus on themselves.

Four Indian national MSOs - Den, Hathway, Siticable and InCable have filed separate writ petitions in the Delhi HC to challenge several aspects of the entertainment tax being imposed as well as the tax collecting authority’s stance towards the MSOs in the state of Delhi.  The cases are all set to be heard today in a joint hearing.

While Hathway Cable & Datacom was put through an enquiry on its own premises, others have decided to legally protect themselves before something similar happens to them. Siticable claims that it has been fulfilling all duties effectively. An ex parte order was taken out against it for non compliance in April and May 2013 which Siticable had appealed against. When that didn’t go very far, it decided to lodge its writ petition seeking redressal and  justice.

Siticable’s first hearing was yesterday when the lawyer on behalf of the tax authority asked for a day’s time to come up with its side of the case. “We had deposited the tax and had also filled the form 10 as per requirements. Yet the authorities were after us. So we went to court to request that no coercive action be taken by them ,” says Siticable CFO Sanjay Goyal.

Hathway is of the opinion that entertainment tax collection is a duty that has been undertaken by the LCOs for several years now and that is how it should be. Its writ petition states that the order passed against it was unreasonable.

MSOs say that they are alright with collecting the tax and passing it on to the department but traditionally it had been the job of the LCO to do that. However, in case of  a lapse of payment by the LCO, the MSO should not be asked to cough up the remaining money is what they say.

The case will come up for hearing today. Who knows whether the Delhi High Court will give a stay order or decide on its fate tomorrow itself.

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