The Karnataka state government is under pressure to take action against officers who are found to have failed to prevent unauthorised construction.
The Karnataka High Court has sought the state government's response to a PIL asking for the government to take action against jurisdictional officers over unauthorised construction in their area. A division bench including Chief Justice Dinesh Maheshwari and Justice S Sujatha asked the counsel appearing on behalf of the state government about its response to the PIL, filed by Umapathi S, an advocate based in Bengaluru.
The petitioner raised the complaint that the state government has not yet laid out punishment for jurisdictional officers in case they failed to prevent unauthorised construction. The officers found guilty are liable for punishment as per Section 321B of the Karnataka Municipal Corporations Act, 1976.
The Act was brought in to keep illegal constructions in check by taking action against erring officials.
The petitioner further added that since 2013 the issue has been pulled up by the High Court on a number of occasions, but punishments have yet to be prescribed. The petitioner also pointed out that it has been more than 11 years since the punishments were mentioned in Section 321 B of the KMC Act in 2007.
The overall-in-charges of local bodies and urban development, BBMP officials are protected by legal lapses due to the lack of penalties imposed on those proven to be guilty of allowing illegal constructions to take place, the petition noted.
The counsel appearing for the government told the High Court that the issue is currently being discussed by the government. The hearing in the case was adjourned to November 28.
Over the years, illegal building constructions in lake bed areas and on storm water drains have become a point of contention in the city. The situation prompted then speaker KB Koliwad to issue a panel report on illegal encroachment in the city in 2017, which named many prominent builders in the city.