SC 9-Judge Bench hears Intervenor’s application advancing GST related arguments in ongoing ‘royalty’ matter

SC 9-Judge Bench concludes hearing the submissions on behalf of private parties and PSUs in the 9 judge Constitutional Bench matter on the issue of nature of ‘royalty’ payable to State Government u/s 9 of Mines & Minerals (Regulation & Development) Act, 1957; Reference is made to 9-judge bench in view of conflict between 7-judge bench decision in the case of India Cement Ltd. and 5-judge bench decision in the case of Kesoram Industries Ltd.; The ongoing marathon hearing is about States’ power to tax mineral rights and other substantive issues pertaining to (i) power of State Legislature to levy tax on land under Entry 49 List II, (ii) meaning of taxation on mineral rights subject to limitations imposed by Parliament by law relating to mineral development under Entry 50 of List of Seventh Schedule, (iii) construction of expression “tax on land and building” in Entry 49 of List II, (iv) scope of expression “taxation on mineral right” under Entry 50 of List II, etc. In said matter, an Intervention application has been filed on the GST issue, wherein it is being argued that (i) royalty is in the nature of tax as it has all attributes of tax and (ii) in case of failure to pay royalty, lessee of mining lease may be subject to criminal prosecution and recovery can be made as arrears of land revenue and (iii) royalty is not a consideration for service but amount collected by State for discharge of a sovereign function, or a constitutional duty.