BANGALORE: In a big setback for cash-strapped BBMP, the Karnataka High Court ruled that using money collected by the civic body from private land owners, who haven’t left open space and civic amenities in their land, for its developmental activities amounts to misappropriation.
Dismissing a batch of writ appeals filed by BBMP, a division bench headed by Justice N Kumar held that the January 25, 2012 order of the single bench wherein the civic body was directed to return the amount to land owners is legal and valid.
“As per the March 10,2006 notification, the amount paid by private owners in respect of zonal area and civic amenities, the authority shall open a separate account and the said amount should be utilized for the purpose of acquisition of the area reserved for park and open space as per the Master Plan-2015 and the Authority shall not utilize the said amount for any other purpose for any reason whatsoever. Therefore, the arguments that the amount so collected and used for developmental activities of the city of Bangalore is a clear case of misappropriation of the said funds by BBMP,” the bench said.
The bench also turned down the BBMP’s plea to adjust the amount collected towards property tax dues on the ground that these properties have come within its jurisdiction.
“Because the land owners have not left the open space and civic amenities in their land and if they are not willing to leave the said spaces they are given an option to pay a percentage of market value of their land, which is to be utilized for acquiring the land to be developed as park and open space for their benefit. The amount cannot be utilized for any other purpose. Therefore, the BBMP has no authority to appropriate the amount towards future tax or for developmental activities of Bangalore city,” the bench observed.
Noting that the BDA, the planning authority, did not collect any amount though conferred with the power as per the March 10, 2006 notification with regard to amended zonal regulations, the bench observed that the February 26, 2004 notification delegating the power of the planning authority to BBMP was not proper as it was not published in the official gazette, a requirement under law.