'Non-payment of betterment fee not a criteria for khata'

'Non-payment of betterment fee not a criteria for khata'

The State government will have to amend the Karnataka Municipal Corporation Act-1976 to pave the way for issuing khata to those property owners in Bangalore who have not paid betterment charges.

The Karnataka High Court had ordered on Friday that the Palike cannot deny registration of khata favouring property owners just because of non-payment of betterment charges. It set aside the differential rates of improvement charges fixed by the Palike dubbing it “arbitrary and unreasonable”.

Sources in the Palike’s revenue department said: “It seems that the existing rule from Sections 466 to 468 of the KMC Act needs to be amended in light of the court order. We will have to go through the order to understand what it has exactly emphasised upon.”

Now, the government has to decide if the KMC Act rules need to be amended. The officer, however, made it clear that this rule will not benefit revenue layouts, which have not followed any provisions, including the conversion of land.

Friday came as a major relief for thousands of land owners who have been denied khata by the Palike. Justice B S Patil maintained that a khata should not be denied if the property owner fulfills all the requirements. He also called the Palike’s act of cancelling khata for non-payment of improvement charges “illegal”.

The verdict was delivered while hearing a petition filed by about 300 property owners questioning the provisions of the Karnataka Municipal Corporations (Recovery of Improvement Expenses) Rules, 2009.

Rule 5 set aside

The Court said the Rule 5 has been set aside only to the extent that it provides for recovery of amount at the time of registration of khata. However, the court upheld the other provisions of the rules including the collection of improvement charges ‘retrospectively’ from January 1, 2007, despite the rule being notified in March 2010.

The Court found no reason for imposing different rates of improvement charges based on the dimension of the sites. The judge felt that people uniformly utilise civic infrastructure irrespective of the dimension of site. While calling the Palike’s order for differential rates arbitrary and unreasonable, the court felt that the people who own large tracts of land on the outskirts of the City, but are a part of Palike, have to shell out high betterment charges just because they possess huge land.

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