BBMP trio accused of pocketing property tax

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bbmpBangalore, June 18:The Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike is in the news again for misappropriation of public funds. Three of its tax inspectors, from Herohalli subdivision in Rajarajeshwarinagar zone, allegedly siphoned off some Rs. 16 lakh paid by property owners towards their tax liability.

R. Subramanyam, president of the BBMP Officers and Employees’ Association, told reporters here Monday though the jurisdictional Assistant Revenue Officer, Shivaiah, and first division clerk Shiva Kumar submitted a report on the alleged embezzlement to the zonal Deputy Commissioner (Revenue) on March 26, 2013, nothing has been done about it. “The report had indicted Santhosh Kumar, Karthik and L. Janardhan, all tax inspectors. Though prima facie it is evident that the three had indulged in fraudulent practices, no action has been taken against them.”

How they did it

He said the report had stated that the three tax inspectors had used the same demand draft/ cheque number against multiple properties, issued bogus handwritten receipts and computer-generated receipts without the demand draft/ cheque number. They had also reportedly contacted property owners whose cheques had bounced and persuaded them to pay in cash. However, they failed to deposit the money in BBMP’s accounts.

Demanding that the trio be suspended and criminal cases registered against them, he claimed that the two officials who unearthed the scam were being threatened by “persons close to the [accused].” He also alleged that the three had sought the help of Muniratna Naidu, the Rajarajeshwarinagar MLA, to get the two whistleblowers transferred out of the Herohalli subdivision.

So-called help centres

Mr. Subramanyam said that such a scam was not peculiar to this subdivision. There are hundreds of BBMP help centres across the eight zones in the city. “These were initially set up to assist the citizens by solving problems locally. However, over the years, they solely function as tax collection centres. As there is no proper monitoring system in place, these help centres must be closed.”

Another reason could be the discontinuation of the Demand-Collection-Balance system that was in place before the self-assessment scheme of property tax collection was introduced. “Earlier, there was a record of the tax collected, balance to be collected and the demand notices to be generated to be issued to defaulters. This has been discontinued now.”

The association has been trying to bring this issue to the notice of BBMP Commissioner M. Lakshminarayana for more than a week now. “We have contacted the Commissioner’s personnel section several times. However, the officials there have been unhelpful,” he complained.

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