Corruption in BBMP has reached monstrous dimension, says HC

Observing that corruption in the offices of the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has reached a “monstrous dimension”, the High Court of Karnataka has said that it is the high time for the State government and BBMP’s Commissioner to protect the people from being harassed by the officers of the Revenue Department.

“Proliferation of corrupt public servants in the offices of the BBMP could garner momentum to cripple the social order if such men are allowed to continue to manage and operate public institutions like BBMP,” the Court observed.

Justice B. Veerappa made these observations while disposing of a writ petition filed by A.L. Premkumar, a resident of Bharathnagar.

The petitioner had complained that Herohalli sub-division revenue officials had failed to show his name in the owner’s column of the property tax receipt for 2015-16 and 2016-17 even though the BBMP itself had issued the khata in his name in 2013 after deleting the previous owner’s name.

Bribe sought

The petitioner had alleged he was made to run from pillar to post by Herohalli revenue officers and he was forced to meet an agent present in the revenue office, who demanded a bribe of ₹10,000 to get the things done in just half-an-hour.

At one point, the revenue officer had given the telephone number of the Commissioner asking the petitioner to approach the Commissioner to solve his problem, it was stated in the petition, while alleging that no action was taken despite a written complaint made to the commissioner/special commissioner way back in July 2016.

Though the BBMP showed the petitioner’s name in the tax receipt when the petition came for the hearing recently, Justice Veerappa noticed from BBMP’s statement that “the allegations of bribery made in the petition against the respondent official/s is not denied even though they have filed statement of objections.”

Allegation not denied

Non-denial of allegation of corruption, the court said, “clearly depicts that corruption in the offices of the BBMP has now reached a monstrous dimension, and its tentacles have started grappling even the institutions created for the protection of the public at large.”

The court said a common man invests the savings of his entire life to buy site to built a shelter and thereafter, he has to struggle, before the BBMP authorities for transfer of katha, payment of tax, getting plan approval, etc. Many people may not be able to enjoy the property as a major part of their life would be over by the time they build their house after obtaining all the clearances from the BBMP, the court observed.

“It is unfortunate that the assistant revenue officers, who are educated, highly-placed men holding responsible posts in the BBMP are betraying the confidence reposed in them by the general public,” the court observed.

The court asked the State government and the BBMP Commissioner take steps to ensure that khata-related requests from the public should be completed within a time frame wherever there is no dispute about title of the property, and to ensure that citizens of Bengaluru are not harassed by BBMP officials demanding illegal gratification. Imposing costs of ₹25,000 on the official responsible for the petitioner’s plight, the court directed the BBMP Commissioner to ensure that costs are paid by the officer concerned from his personal resources and not from the public exchequer.

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Printable version | Jul 27, 2021 12:50:01 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/corruption-in-bbmp-has-reached-monstrous-dimension-says-hc/article24243038.ece

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