Why is the government desecrating the garden: court asks

The Karnataka High Court on Friday ordered status quo with regard to the work on construction of a parking zone on five acres of land inside Lalbagh.

A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Vikramajit Sen and Justice B.V. Nagarathna passed the interim order on a public interest litigation (PIL) petition filed by advocate S. Vasudeva.

When the Bench asked the government counsel why the government was desecrating Lalbagh [by providing parking space right inside the botanical garden], he replied there was already provision for parking but the project was taken up with the rise in the number of vehicles.

The petitioner contended that a parking zone inside Lalbagh violates the Karnataka Parks, Playfields and Open Spaces (Prevention and Regulation) Act, 1985 and said no permission had been sought from competent authorities. Further hearing was adjourned to January 16.

Special committee

In another case, the Bench on Friday constituted a special committee to probe the construction of a residential apartment complex on a portion of public road and lack of access to certain areas due to encroachments in MLA Layout, RMV II Stage. The order was passed on a PIL petitionby Shakuntala Chougule and others, all residents of the layout complaining about lack of access road.

The committee would comprise government counsel B. Veerappa and the Commissioners of the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) and Bruhat Bangalore Mahangara Palike (BBMP). It has been asked to submit the report within three months.

The court formed the committee while noticing lapses on the part of officials of both the BBMP and the BDA in forming the layout and sanctioning plans.

Improvement charges

The Bench on Thursday extended the stay on the order given by a single judge Bench on refund of improvement charges already collected by the BBMP at the time of giving khatas to the properties in newly added areas.

While adjourning further hearing on the appeal filed by the BBMP, the Bench orally asked the BBMP how it could force citizens living in these areas to pay improvement charges. The government was providing facilities in these areas through budgetary support prior to their transfer to the BBMP. And now, the court asked, is it not the duty of the BBMP to provide facilities through budgetary support?

A single judge Bench in its April 20 order had declared as illegal the differential rates of improvement charges fixed for the properties, depending upon their dimension.

The BBMP told the court it had already notified a uniform rate of improvement charges and number of payment instalments.

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