Justice C L Soni of the Gujarat High Court directed the Gujarat government not to collect stamp duty on customers' application forms and cancel notices issued by the state government to service providers in 2003.
"Initially the state government asked the companies to submit information of their subscribers' base by supplying a copy of the form containing a customer’s details," the High court order said.
"The application form was treated as an agreement and stamp duty was sought. It cannot do so because it does not impound the original document," the order passed by the Gujarat High Court on September 12 said.
Telecom companies had approached the High Court and said that the Gujarat government levied stamp duty on all subscriber applications or customers' enrolment forms by considering it an 'instrument', which is chargeable under the Bombay Stamp Act.
Earlier, telecom service providers were asked to shell out Rs 60 per customer form as an 'instrument', but later they were asked to pay Rs 50 per form by treating it as an 'agreement', the petition said.
The telecom service providers had challenged the charging of duty by the Gujarat government before the High Court, saying that customers' forms cannot be considered 'instruments' and the state cannot charge stamp duty on them.
"The form is not an instrument within the definition of Section 2(l) of the Act and thus not chargeable, and even if it is considered as instrument, no duty is leviable thereon unless dutiable events occur under the provisions of the Act," the order quoting the petitioner's submission said.
"The companies have also argued that the government does not impound these forms and it cannot impose stamp duty merely on basis of data provided by Telecom Regulation Authority of Inida (TRAI)," the order said.

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