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BBMP told to pay Rs 20,000 to woman accused of property tax default

On April 16, 2020, HP Sandhya, a resident of Byraveswaranagar on Nagarbhavi Road, remitted property tax of Rs 9,501 to BBMP for her residence for 2019-20 through the online banking option of Canara Bank where she holds an account.

Pulling up Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) for service deficiency, a consumer court directed it to pay Rs 20,000 to a 54-year old woman, who was wrongly accused of not paying   property tax for 2019-20 though she’d made the online payment in time.The consumer forum further ordered the Palike to update the woman’s tax payment status to ‘paid’.On April 16, 2020, HP Sandhya, a resident of Byraveswaranagar on Nagarbhavi Road, remitted property tax of Rs 9,501 to BBMP for her residence for 2019-20 through the online banking option of Canara Bank where she holds an account.

She then approached Palike officials regarding the tax payment, but they informed her the amount hadn’t been transferred to their account. Sandhya verified with Canara Bank authorities about the remittance and they confirmed the transfer to the BBMP account, adding the same had been communicated to the Palike office.

Despite the bank confirming the tax payment, the civic authorities, whom the woman repeatedly approached to seek confirmation of the payment, remained unresponsive. Fed up with the inaction of BBMP staff and her tax payment status remaining ‘unpaid’, Sandhya approached the Bengaluru Urban district consumer disputes redressal commission in Shantinagar with a complaint of service deficiency against the BBMP commissioner and the manager of Canara Bank’s Chamarajpet branch.

While Sandhya’s lawyer presented her case, counsel representing BBMP argued that the complaint was frivolous, vexatious and misconceived. He added that the woman’s claim of having paid the property tax online was false as it didn’t reflect in the BBMP system. At no point in time did the Palike receive any communication from Canara Bank that the amount claimed to have been paid by the woman was transferred to the civic agency’s account.

The Canara Bank lawyer said the online challan for payment of tax to BBMP was generated by the complainant on the BBMP website and the bank has no control over the portal but is just a mediator for payments of various vendors. The complainant made the online payment to BBMP and the amount of Rs 9,501 was deducted from her account in favour of the civic body, and the amount would have been reversed if there was any error, he noted.

In a verdict pronounced on September 22, 2023, judges of the consumer forum said it is clear that complainant Sandhya paid property tax to BBMP through online banking and a reference number for the same was generated. The bank confirmed that the payment was made and there was no reversal of the amount. All this substantiates the woman’s claim, the judges said.

The court ruled that the BBMP commissioner must pay Rs 10,000 as compensation for the trouble caused to the woman and an additional Rs 10,000 towards her court expenses, all within 45 days of the order. The case against Canara Bank was dismissed, stating that it was only a payment facilitator.

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