BBMP allowed to collect improvement charges from Jan. 2007
Giving a major relief to a large number of property owners in the city, mainly residing in the areas newly added to the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), the Karnataka High Court on Friday set aside the differential rates of improvement charges fixed by the BBMP while terming the rates as “arbitrary and unreasonable.”
The High Court also said that the BBMP cannot deny registration of khata in favour of property owners only for the reason of non-payment of improvement charges while directing the BBMP to register khata provided land owners have satisfied all other legal requirements. The court also declared as illegal the action of the BBMP in cancelling the khatas for non-payment of improvement charges.
Justice B.S. Patil issued the directions while delivering the verdict on about 300 petitions filed by property owners and private land developers challenging the Karnataka Municipal Corporations (Recovery of Improvement Expenses) Rules, 2009.
“The Rule 5, which provides for collection of improvement expenses at the time of registration of khata, is set aside only to the extent that it provides for recovery of amount at the time of registration of Khata,” said Justice Patil.
The court, however, upheld the validity of all other provisions of the Rules, including the provision for collecting improvement charges retrospectively from January 1, 2007 though the Rules were notified on March 2, 2010.
The High Court also held that the provision made in the Rules for collecting the full sum [entire improvement charge] as contrary to the Section 467 of the Karnataka Municipal Corporations (KMC) Act as it [Rules] gives discretion to the Commissioner to give option of payment of improvement charge in instalments though the Rules have the effect of placing heavy financial burden on the owners of the properties.
The High Court also declared as illegal the action of the Commissioner [of BBMP] in issuing the circular determining amount of improvement expenses to be collected from the owners or occupiers of the sites/lands.
While declaring as “arbitrary and unreasonable” the differential rates of improvement expenses fixed for different sites based on the dimension of sites, Justice Patil said that it cannot be held that owners of smaller sites/lands are always economically weaker and invariably utilise lesser infrastructure.
“Many areas were part of villages on the outskirts and many agriculturists, who owned lands, might have got converted and became a part of the newly constituted BBMP. They [land owners] will have to now shell out huge amount towards improvement expenses at higher rates because they posses large sites/properties.” Justice Patil observed while pointing out that the basis of differential treatment lacks reasonable criteria and hence differential rates charged cannot be sustained.
Meanwhile, the court has reserved the liberty to the BBMP to undertake afresh the exercise of quantifying the improvement expenses and its collection.
The BBMP had fixed Rs.150 per sq m as improvement charge for the sites measuring up to 111.48 sq m (1,200 sq ft); Rs.200 per sq m for lands measuring between 111.48 and 222.96 sq m (1,200 and 2,400 sq ft); Rs.300 per sq m for sites measuring between 222.96 and 557.41 sq m (2,400 and 6,000 sq ft); and Rs.400 per sq m for sites measuring above 557.41 sq m (6,000 sq ft.)