The Karnataka High Court has quashed the notice of Rs 69 lakh in betterment charge the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) demanded from the 150-year-old Good Shepherd Convent here.
The school sought to build an additional four floors on an existing 100-year-old building on its campus. But the BBMP calculated a betterment charge on the entire 23 acres of land.
The Court, however, found that there was no provision of law under which BBMP could make such a demand. Justice M Nagaprasanna in his recent order, said, “If there is no provision to charge a fee there can be no demand and if there is no provision for imposition of impost, there can be no impost, is the settled principle of law.”
The Good Shepard Society/ School stands on 23 acres “in the heart of the city.” The school made an application in 2014 before the BBMP seeking a license to construct four additional floors on the existing building. It also paid a scrutiny fee of Rs 1,61,438. The BBMP raised a demand of Rs 69,70,520 as a betterment charge.
The matter reached the HC where BBMP claimed the demand was made under Section 18 of the Karnataka Town and Country Planning Act. The Court, however, pointed out that this Section could be invoked only if the application was made for a change of land use. But the School had only sought to build additional floors. It rejected the contention of BBMP that the school had not paid the betterment fee so far and the civic body is therefore trying to invoke Section 18 as a demand running counter to the law.
The BBMP order demanding the betterment charge dated July 7, 2014 was quashed as “the impugned demand made by the BBMP is rendered unsustainable and it has no legal legs to stand,” the Court said. However, the BBMP was allowed to inspect the property and raise any demand “strictly in consonance with law.”