'Overstaffed' Palike law dept has 6,000 pending cases

'Overstaffed' Palike law dept has 6,000 pending cases

A majority of the disputes pertain to deviation in construction plans and leased properties.

The law department of the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has burdened the civic agency with nearly 6,000 cases, according to a high-ranking official. Most of the cases relate to disputes over construction plans and rental agreements.

The BBMP official explained that the cases are pending across various judicial fora. “In total we are fighting these 6,000 cases at the High Court, civil courts and the Karnataka Appellate Tribunal (KAT),” said the Palike official.

Officials claim that most of these cases are filed against the BBMP for trying to curb deviations in building plans, which most citizens make while constructing houses or apartments in the City. “The second largest issue which results in protracted legal battles is the leased properties which are ‘encroached on’ by the lessees,” he said.

The BBMP faces these legal hurdles in its attempts at claiming properties back from lessees. As soon as a notice is served on the lessee for not paying the rent for occupying Palike property, the lessee files a case claiming ownership over the property. This results in long-drawn litigations at various levels of the judiciary, he said.

The law department of the Palike has been pulled up several times by the Palike Council and the corporators for being unable to reclaim the civic agency’s properties from ‘encroachers,’ alleged the official. “But little do the corporators realise that we have huge backlogs of cases and the judiciary does not respond to our whims and fancies.”

The law department, on a regular day, receives at least three to four cases filed against the BBMP by various litigants. “Generally, the BBMP is made party to a host of cases which involves even other civic agencies or the State government. If these are also included, then the numbers will be higher,” he complained.

Surprisingly, the BBMP has discounted the Lokayukta cases filed against BBMP officials. “The Lokayukta cases are filed against individuals and not against the BBMP. These cases are handled by the accused and not the Palike,” the official explained.

Less workload

The backlog notwithstanding, the official claimed that the BBMP law department was overstaffed. “We have close to 70 lawyers on our payrolls, with plans to hire more. At present, the department has more lawyers and less workload,” he said.

The official said that if the agency were to hire any more lawyers, then the ones already on its payrolls will not have enough work.

The Palike hires external counsels for all the eight zones under its purview. 

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