7 months after expose, action in Khata scam slow

7 months after expose, action in Khata scam slow

7 months after expose, action in Khata scam slow

The Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike appears to be in deep slumber as far as taking action against fake A khatas were issued by entering B khata properties in the tax assessment register.

Consider this: Cases of fraudulent entry of B khata properties in the assessment register meant for A khata properties in Bommanahalli zone was first noticed and officially reported as early as May 2015.

However, it took over seven long months for the BBMP authorities to take a decision on acting against officials responsible for the scam.

And the decision has so far remained only on paper and no action has been initiated to either cancel the fake A khatas or ascertain if the scourge of illegal khatas was prevalent across BBMP limits.

Efforts were also made by a section of revenue officials to mislead top officials in a bid to hush up the scam. In fact, the illegal khata registration was not brought to the notice of the then BBMP Administrator T M Vijay Bhaskar. 

According to documents accessed by this paper, Joint Commissioner (Bommanahalli zone) Muniraju submitted a report to the BBMP Deputy Commissioner (Revenue) M Venkatachalapathi on the illegal entry of B khata properties in the assessment register, on May 7, 2015 (during Administrator’s rule). The report stated that a total 328 fake khatas have been issued in Bommanahalli, Bilekahalli and Hongasandra. But no action was taken. On the contrary, revenue officials went on issuing khata extracts for such illegal properties.

'Illegality continues'

When the revenue officials subsequently came across hundreds of such cases, they thought it appropriate to submit a report afresh, seeking permission to take appropriate action. The Joint Commissioner in his second report dated September 30, 2015, to the Deputy Commissioner (Revenue), stated: “Illegal entry in the assessment register has continued and it has been impossible to find out who was doing it.”

“Khatas (illegal) have been issued without collecting betterment charges and property tax. It appears that the khatas are pertaining to revenue properties (residential properties formed without converting agriculture land for non-agriculture use). As a result, the BBMP has incurred a huge loss of revenue. There is a need to cancel all illegal khatas and a probe conducted by an appropriate investigative agency,” Muniraju suggested.

After a gap of over one month, the Deputy Commissioner (Revenue) on December 2, 2015 brought the issue to the notice of BBMP Special Commissioner (Welfare) V Rashmi, informing her that more than 560 illegal khatas have been found in two revenue sub-divisions of Bommanahalli zone. He suggested issuing a direction to the Joint Commissioner to list out all illegal khatas and take appropriate steps to cancel them. A list of illegal khatas was also submitted along with the report.

Interestingly, Venkatachalapathi also informed the Special Commissioner that it was not possible to take legal action as the illegal entries might have been made at the time of merger of seven city municipal councils, one town municipal council and 110 villages with the previous BMP to form the BBMP in 2006.

But Special Commissioner Rashmi decided to seek legal opinion.  The BBMP legal cell opined that khatas illegally issued within three years may be cancelled as per section 114(a) of the KMC Act after conducting a hearing. For khatas  illegally issued more than three years ago, the BBMP has to approach the court for cancellation. BBMP Commissioner G Kumar Naik on December 19, 2015 directed that action should be taken as suggested by the legal section. He also directed to verify if such illegality had taken place elsewhere under BBMP.