Petition against hike in domestic water tax in violation of Karnataka High Court order and Section 104 (c) of the Karnataka Municipal Corporations Act 1976 sign now

3 petitioners' permission taken for the online reproduction of the HC Order.

THE HIGH COURT OF KARNATAKA AT BANGALORE

DATED THIS THE 25TH DAY OF OCTOBER, 2005

B E F O R E

THE HON'BLE MR. JUSTICE RAM MOHAN REDDY

Writ Petition No. 19047 OF 2005 (LB-Res)


BETWEEN

1 SHIVKUMAR PATIL S/O P KENCHANA GOUD
AGED ABOUT 48 YEARS, R/A NO.5655,
VIJAYANAGAR II STAGE, MYSORE-17

2 SHALINI N KAMATH W/O N P KAMATH
AGED ABOUT 60 YEARS
R/A NO. 55, II CROSS,
IV BLOCK, KALIDASA ROAD,
JAYALAKSHMIPURAM, MYSORE-12

3 B KARIYAPPA S/O K BASAPPA
AGED ABOUT 46 YEARS
R/A 37/H, VIJAYANAGAR I STAGE,
MYSORE-17

PETITIONERS

(By Sri R.V.S.NAIK, ADV., FOR
M/S KING & PARTRIDGE, ADVS.)

A N D:

1 THE CORPORATION OF THE CITY OF MYSORE
SAYYAJI RAO ROAD, MYSORE-570024
REP BY ITS COMMISSIONER

2 STATE OF KARNATAKA
DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING & URBAN
DEVELOPMENT, VIDHANA SOUDHA,
BANGALORE-560 001 REP BY ITS SECRETARY
RESPONDENTS

(By SMT GEETHA DEVI M P, ADV. FOR R1
SRI H.B. NARAYANA, HCGP FOR R 2)

THIS WRIT PETITION FILED UNDER ARTICLE 226 OF THE CONSTITUTION OF INDIA PRAYING TO QUASH THE IMPUGNED ORDER DATED 10.01.2005 (ANNEXURE B) FOLLOWING RESOLUTION NO.466/2004-05 DATED 20.12.2004 ENHANCING WATER RATES AMONG OTHERS FOR DOMESTIC USE FROM THE EXISTING RATE OF Rs.1.45 PER 1000 LITRES OF WATER (UPTO THE FIRST SLAB OF 25,000 LITRES AND Rs.2.65 FOR THE SECOND SLAB I.E., FOR CONSUMPTION BETWEEN 25,0001 TO 50,000 LITRES PER MONTH ETC.) WITH EFFECT FROM 01.01.2005, AS FAR AS PETITIONERS ARE CONCERNED AND ETC.,


THIS PETITION COMING ON FOR THE PRELIMINARY HEARING, THIS DAY, THE COURT MADE THE FOLLOWING:

O R D E R

1. The dispute brought before this Court lies in a narrow compass. The question is

whether the respondent Corporation while revising water rates ought to have complied

with the provisions of Section 103, 104 and 105 of the Karnataka Municipal

Corporation Act, 1976 (for short 'the Act')?


2. There is no dispute that the respondent Corporation is a creature of the Act and under

Section 148 is empowered to revise any tax imposed by it once in every five years subject

to observing the procedure prescribed for imposition of taxes. "Tax" is defined under

Section 2(41) of the Act to include(s) toll, rate cess, fee or other impost leviable under the

Act.

It is also not in dispute that water rates is a tax or cess falling within the definition of the

term "Tax".)


3. Section 104 of the Act prescribes the procedure for imposition of taxes, which reads as

thus:

"104. Procedure preliminary to imposing a tax. - A Corporation, before imposing a tax, shall observe the following preliminary procedure. -

(a) it shall, by resolution passed at a total general meeting, select for the purpose one or other of the taxes specified in Section 103 and in such resolution specify so far as may be applicable.-

(i) the classes of persons or of property or of both which the Corporation proposes to make liable and any exemptions, which it proposes to make;

(ii) the amount or rate at which the Corporation proposes to assess each such class;

(b) when such resolution has been passed, the Corporation shall publish in the Official Gazette and in such other manner as may be prescribed, a notice of such resolution in the prescribed form;

(c) any inhabitant of the city objecting to the imposition of the said tax or to the amount or rate proposed or to the classes of persons or property to be made liable thereto or to any exemptions proposed, may, within one month from the publication in the Official Gazette of the said notice, send his/her objection in writing to the Corporation; the Corporation shall take all such objections into consideration, or shall authorise the Standing Committee for taxation and finance to consider the same and report thereon and unless it decides to abandon the proposed tax, shall submit such objections with its opinion thereon and any modifications proposed in accordance therewith, together with a copy of the notice aforesaid to Government."


4. In the instant case as is noticed the pleadings of the parties more particularly the

statement of objections filed by the respondent, does not disclose compliance of Section

104 of the Act. Learned counsel for the Corporation would not dispute that the revision of

water rate was not preceded by following the procedure under Section 104 of the Act. In

this view of the matter it cannot be said that the revision of water rate by order dated

10.01.2005, Annexure B enhancing the rate for domestic use from the existing rate of

Rs.1.45 per 1,000 litres of water (upto the first slab of 25,000 litres and Rs.2.65 for the

second slab i.e., for consumption between 25,001 to 50,000 litres per month etc.) with

effect from 01.01.2005 satisfies the requirement of law. The order suffers from the vice

of no compliance of statutory procedure prescribed under Section 104 of the Act. The

respondents having not complied with the statutory mandate, the order is unsustainable in

law. The writ petition is accordingly allowed. The order bearing NO.887/2004-05 dated

10.01.2005, Annexure B is quashed.

Sd/-
Judge

TRUE COPY


Sd/-
dated 07/11/2005
Section Officer
High Court of Karnataka
Bangalore-560 001.
So may we ask :

1) How can/could the MCC/VVWW contemptuously and maliciously/falsely claim and issue media / press statements in Jan 2006 that the Sections 103, 104 and 105 of the KMC Act, 1976, were amended in the year 2003 itself?

2) Why didn't their learned counsel inform the Hon'ble HC or its Hon'ble Judge regarding it?

3) Why did the VVWW and MCC call for the Mysore City('s) inhabitants to file their objections between 23/24 Nov 2005 to 23/24 Dec 2005 just to tell that theyve become invalid?

MCC's violation or non-compliance of the Section 104(c) of the KMC Act, 1976
In "discordance" with the above order the MCC has once again violated (or not complied with) the Section 104(c) of the KMC Act, 1976, by neither taking all such written objections filed by the inhabitants of the Mysore City into consideration nor authorising the Standing Committee for taxation and finance to consider the same and report thereon. Also, before reimposing the tax it has not submitted such objections with its opinion thereon and any modifications proposed in accordance therewith, together with a copy of the notice aforesaid to the Government.

Therefore, the learned counsel for the petitioners may please consider filing of contempt of (Karnataka High) Court petition (for the wilful disobedience of the HC order) against the MCC and the VVWW (Vani Vilas Water Works) at the earliest.

Unmetered connections=0,39,960
Fraudulent Bhagyajala connections=0,02,600
Non-working meters=0,68,000
Working meters=0,09,440
Total number of water connections as per MCC's/VVWW's (un)official claims =1,20,000


If 39,960-58,960 unmetered connections are metered, 2,600 fraudulent Bhagyajala connections are disconnected, 68,000 to 72,000 non-working meters are made functional then this presently reimposed hike in water tax w.e.f. Sun, Jan 1, 2006 is unnecessary.

For the past several years more than 68,000 (legal) consumers who are owning non-working meters are being charged just Rs.60/- per month irrespective of the quantity of water that's being consumed.

Interest worth Rs.36 crores on water dues of all defaulting / dishonest domestic, non-domestic, commercial and industrial consumers was unnecessarily waived off.

In many old extensions in city water bills are neither accepted nor a rupee of water tax paid resulting in 40 to 50\% loss in revenue.

25 to 50\% or 7.5 to 15 MGD (Million Gallon per Day) of water is wasted per day due to leakage from VVWW's old rusted and badly maintained poor quality pipelines/pipes.

The cost of electricity to operate electric motors for pumping water constitutes the largest component of the expenditure connected with water supply. All the electric motors now in use to pump water in Mysore are of antique technology, rated at just 60\% efficiency even when new. Each of these motors has gone through numerous rewindings, which have further reduced their efficiency.

Whenever there's a breach in the old rusted poor quality pipelines/pipes new poor quality pipes/pipelines are being laid/drawn along the old rusted ones instead of replacing them (with good quality pipelines/pipes) thereby wasting tax payers' money and encouraging unauthorised tapping.

MCC/VVWW is recovering the revenue lost due to leakage, pilferage / theft and default from the honest metered consumers.

Therefore, the MCC/VVWW may please be directed to roll back the domestic water tax hike immediately, to refund the excess domestic water tax that's being collected illegally w.e.f. Jan 2005 and to strictly prevent some unscrupulous / dishonest domestic consumers from misusing the precious domestic drinking water "excessively" for non-domestic purposes.

Pl. separate the MCC from the VVWW and reform, restructure and regulate it (VVWW) in order to make it independent and financially viable so that it can work with minimum government and political interference [like the BWSSB (Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board)].

Latest updates or information on the perennial water woes of Mysoreans

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Erna OnealBy:
Transport and infrastructureIn:
Petition target:
The Honble Karnataka High Court, Chief Minister, Chief Secretary, Chief Information Commissioner, Lok Ayukta, Principal Secretary Public Grievances, Secretary Urban Development, Deputy Commissioner, Mysore City Corporation (MCC) and Vani Vilas Water Wor

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