BBMP told to pay Rs 20,000 to senior citizen seeking refund
A city consumer court has ordered the BBMP commissioner and two of his subordinates to pay a compensation of Rs 20,000 to a senior citizen who was made to run from pillar to post for 16 months to get a refund after paying excess property tax online owing to the civic body’s portal failure to generate a receipt.
On May 13, 2016, Sanjaynagar-resident U Vishwanath Rao, 71, took help from a neighbour to pay property tax of Rs 4,563 online.
In their first attempt, the BBMP website did not generate a receipt despite the payment being made. The two men tried again and another Rs 4,563 was debited, but again no receipt was generated.
Eight days later, Rao visited BBMP’s Ward 19 office in JC Nagar. Explaining to staff that he was a pensioner, Rao said he had paid more than Rs 9,000 on the BBMP website but had not received a receipt, and a refund would be of great relief for him. But the BBMP staff gave him a fresh note for payment of his property tax and advised him to use a specific bank this time.
Rao followed the advice only to lose another Rs 4,563. The receipts for the three payments arrived in June 2016 after a frail Rao met numerous BBMP officials.
Rao now faced the task of retrieving Rs 9,126 from the BBMP which said “it was the customer’s fault”. Multiple letters, phone calls and personal visits to BBMP officials over 16 months took a toll on Rao but BBMP officials did not budge.
A dejected Rao finally petitioned the Bangalore Urban 2nd Additional District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum on September 6, 2017 against the BBMP commissioner, his deputy and the assistant revenue officer of JC Nagar, whom he accused of deficiency of services.
BBMP’s attorney stated that the senior citizen’s claims were false, frivolous and vexatious and said he was at fault in paying the property tax thrice. The civic body had refunded the money, the lawyer said, but failed to give the date when the refund was made.
After examining the complainant and BBMP’s versions for 18 months, the judges of the consumer forum slammed the BBMP officials for their treatment of a senior citizen who was trying to retrieve excess money he had paid for no fault of his.
In their verdict on March 6, 2019, the judges ordered the BBMP commissioner, the joint commissioner and the revenue officer to pay Rs 20,000 to Rao within 30 days for official apathy that caused him mental agony.