BENGALURU: In view of the Karnataka High Court taking Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) to task over its poor performance in the collection of advertisement tax, the BBMP has given an undertaking before the court that it will remove all illegal hoardings/advertisements in the city in two months from Monday.
BBMP Commissioner N Manjunath Prasad gave the undertaking before Justice Dr Vineet Kothari on Monday. This was after Justice Kothari took stock of illegal hoardings from Prasad, who was present in court, during the hearing of petitions challenging the imposition of penalty, which is equivalent to annual advertisement charges and the interest.
Warning that the court will take steps to withhold salary of both the Commissioner and Assistant Revenue Officers (ARO) if there is any laxity in collection of advertisement tax, Justice Kothari asked Prasad to tell his AROs to tighten their seat belt and go hard on the agencies that put up illegal hoardings. The court itself will monitor the tax collection from concerned ad agencies/individual hoardings every fortnight, the judge said.
Referring to the advertisement tax collection of `4.39 crore in all eight zones, Justice Vineet Kothari told Prasad that the collection is less than expected. “How do you gear up to collect tax? Furnish the list of all AROs by next week. Those who do not pay tax, they do not have business. You remove the illegal hoardings completely,” the judge ordered.
“You have asked for two or three months for removal of illegal hoardings. Time will not be extended further. This court felt that you have not done your duty fully. There are many illegal hoardings in city. The 500 revenue staff in BBMP should work and if they don’t work, salary will be withheld. You are also equally responsible. Would you charge politicians or have you ever issued notices to them for putting illegal hoardings? You will have to be hard on violators,” Justice Kothari told Prasad.
The court ordered BBMP to give a list of pending cases pertaining to advertisement tax before civil courts so as to enable it to ask the District Principal and Sessions Judge to transfer all those pending and newly instituted cases on such issues to one designated court and avoid multiplicity of proceedings.