Alleged graft in collection of advertisement tax

The Kozhikode Vigilance Inquiry Commissioner and Special Judge on Monday issued directions to the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau (VACB) to inquire into the allegations of corruption against the Mayor and Deputy Mayor and other officials in collecting advertisement tax and installation of advertisement hoardings during the 2010-11, 2011-12 and 2012-13 financial years.

The special judge, V. Jayaram, was acting on the basis of a petition moved by K. P. Vijayakumar, convener of the Corporation anti-Corruption Campaign Committee, pointing out eight allegations against Mayor A.K. Premajam, Deputy Mayor P.T. Abdul Latheef, and other Corporation officials.

The court directed the Deputy Superintendent of Police (VACB) to submit a report on February 4, 2014.

The petition has named M. Mohanan; council Floor leader; M. Bhaskaran, former Mayor; C.K. Renukadevi, councillor; P.K. Mamukoya and P. Mamukoya Haji, former councillors; Varun Bhaskaran, son of Mr. Bhaskaran; P. Nikhil treasurer, DYFI, Kozhikode district; M.K. Dinesh, lawyer; S. Vijayakumar and K. Kunhamaed, former secretaries of the Corporation; as respondents.

The petitioner alleged that the State exchequer had incurred a loss of Rs 6 crore as the respondents had violated the norms for fixing the rates of advertisement tax in the last three fiscal.

The rates were fixed without the permission and sanction of the Corporation Council or the State government.

As per the Kerala Municipality Act, the Corporation Council has to create a special bylaw to permit or prohibit advertisements in the city limits.

However, the Corporation did not prepare such bylaws during the last three financial years, Mr. Vijayakumar alleged in the petition.

He also alleged that the Corporation had not given the consent letter to contractors as per Section 3 of Kerala Municipality Rules, 1999, mentioning the number of advertisement boards, location, and their size during the period.

The Corporation did not receive any money as income from the advertisements at bus stands, parks and junctions, the petition said.

Other allegations were irregularities in the setting up of a Rs.5.5 crore worth floodlights at the Corporation Stadium, fixing the rent of office spaces at the Corporation buildings on Link Road, and corruption in the construction of community hall at Kovoor.

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