Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
The Hindu
The Hindu
The Hindu Bureau

Collection of GBWSSP charges illegal: Karnataka High Court

In a setback to the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB), the High Court of Karnataka has declared as illegal the Greater Bengaluru Water Supply and Sewerage Project (GBWSSP) charges and the Beneficiary Capital Contribution (BCC) charges collected from residents and the commercial ventures respectively in areas newly added to the city.

However, the court said the State or the BWSSB can bring in these charges, which are held to be illegal under the provisions of the Bangalore Water and Sewerage Sanitary Act, 1964, and the Bangalore Water Supply Regulations, 1965 by making suitable amendments to the Act, or the regulations.

The BWSSB had collected hundreds of crores of rupees under the GBWSSP from all types of buildings, including old and new residential buildings, based on the size of the site in the seven city municipal councils and one town municipal council that were added to the city limits, for providing drinking water and underground drainage facilities.

Meanwhile, the court upheld the legality of the Advance Probable Pro Rata charges, which are levied on multi-storeyed buildings and the treated water charges.

Justice M. Nagaprasanna passed the order while partly allowing two petitions, one filed in 2021 by M/s Sobha Ltd., a real estate development firm, and another in 2020 by N. Surekha and other land owners along with their developer, M/s Brigade Enterprises Ltd.

The petitioners had challenged the legality of the demand for payment of these charges made by BWSSB for issuing no-objection certificate in relation to certain residential and commercial development projects.

Entitled to refund

The court also said that the petitioners are entitled for refund of the BCC and GBWSSP charges deposited by them, within 12 weeks. The court said that there is no provision in the Act to levy the charges like the BCC and GBWSSP.

Pointing out that these charges were being collected to meet partial expenses towards providing drinking water supply and the underground drainage facility services to the new areas, the court said that the general provisions in the Act, which permits augmentation of revenue by levy of various imposts cannot mean that it can be used to impose all and sundry charges.

“This is the general duty of the board, as the board is established with manifold functions, one such function is, laying of pipelines inter alia. The general duties of the board cannot be projected to be a subject matter of such fee, without there being any service rendered for imposition of such fee,” the court observed.

Valid in law

However, on demand for advanced probable pro rata charges, the court said that the legality of collection of pro rata charges was upheld by the court way back in 2004.

Since there is foundation in the Act to collect charges from multi-storeyed buildings on pro rata basis, the demand for collection of it in advance, on probable basis to keep the multi-storeyed buildings ready for water supply and sewerage cannot be termed as illegal, the court said, while also holding that the BWS Regulations, 1965 for supplying recycled water.

“If, the citizens of the State, are wanting to enjoy pure potable water, de hors all impurities, it is necessary for them to be a part of augmenting revenue to such distribution boards, by payment of charges, a caveat, legally determined charges,” the court observed.

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Already a member? Sign in here
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.