Judgment has stinging rebuke for corrupt BBMP officials

In a first-of-its-kind exercise, a Judicial Member of the Central Administrative Tribunal’s (CAT) Bangalore Bench went around Bangalore recently to understand the menace of illegal constructions condoned by corrupt Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) officials. Judicial Member K.B. Suresh undertook the expedition before writing the verdict on the petition filed by Additional Director-General of Police R.P. Sharma who had challenged his transfer from the post as head of the Bangalore Metropolitan Task Force (BMTF).

‘Appalled’

“I had thought it proper, especially since I am an outsider (from Kerala), to go around Bangalore and see for myself the state of things,” Mr. Kumar said. He said he was appalled by the extent of construction violations, adding that the city would be defenceless should a major fire or epidemic break out. Such was the haphazard and illegal encroachments, with buildings extending to the road itself, observed Mr. Kumar in his verdict quashing the government order transferring ADGP Sharma. After interacting [with the assistance of translators] with some people constructing houses, Mr. Kumar observed in his verdict that it was the system that corrupted them. When citizens seek the plan approval from BBMP officials, they are usually forced to cough up money even if the plan is correct. Once they are forced to pay bribes, he said, they also see avenues to break the law, violating floor space ratios so as to “make good use of their money though it may be against rules…”

‘Nefarious nexus’

Such flagrant violations, he said, was only possible with the cooperation of all the wings in the government as the buildings on completion have to be certified as completed and given numbers. “In this nefarious nexus, a large part of BBMP employees seem to have taken part and unless this nexus between politicians, corporators, contractors and employees is broken up, the degree of immorality, which had engulfed the BBMP, may soon destroy Bangalore,” Mr. Kumar observed.

‘Contain them’

Thus, he said, BMTF’s formation in 1996 was laudable; but its lethargy all these years had defeated not only Bangalore, but by implication and reflection, other major cities of Karnataka too. Therefore, public interest lies in “sternly and even brutally containing all these [corrupt] officials” and it was BMTF’s bounden duty to comply with its statutory requirements.

He added it was unfortunate that the government did not fully understand or chose to ignore BMTF’s role even though such action was against public interest, and that the ultimate sufferer was the common man.