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The Special Leave Petitions filed by Namma Bengaluru Foundation and Myself challenging the Akrama Sakrama laws in Karnataka had come up for hearing before the Supreme Court of India on Jan 13, 2017
The apex court bench headed by Chief Justice of India JS Khehar asked the authorities not to process applications filed under this scheme. The bench declined the request of the state government, which had entered a caveat to expedite the hearing. The SLP has been converted to a civil appeal and will be heard in due course of time.
This stay on Akrama Sakrama by Supreme Court is a major win and dawns the symbol of hope and triumph.
My entire fight against the recent Akrama Sakrama scheme is because it does not support Bengaluru’s urban poor as it is anti-poor.
Instead of considering a reworked proposal that benefits the poor, the government has fed the canard that all illegal constructions are dwellings of the poor while in reality it is just a tool to legalise all illegalities of erring property developers and high income home owners.
Additionally, the following questions remain unanswered and warrant attention:
1) Why are homeowners being penalised whereas builders and developers escape punishment?
2) What about criminal action against those in Government whose negligence or deliberate connivance allowed these deviations?
3) How is this regularisation going to be audited?
4) Is the government sending a message that corruption and lawbreaking doesn’t disadvantage anyone with a culture being created where lawbreaking is encouraged?
5) And then finally, why should citizens comply with laws when new amnesty schemes will be rolled out to protect violators and criminals?
If the Government of Karnataka genuinely wants to help the poor, it must rethink and reconfigure Akrama Sakrama to create a criterion that benefits only the deserving.
The legislation should also ensure punitive measures for violators – both builders and errant officials. Only by doing so, the unholy nexus of vested interests, builders and contractors can be eliminated.
This collusion around public money and land lies at crux of corrupt politics in Bengaluru. Through Akrama Sakrama, the government was more actively rewarding the culture of corruption. In its current form, the message was: a lawbreaker stands to benefit than a law-abiding citizen! It was designed to bail out builders, the rich and powerful from their illegalities who instead of being punished under law, benefitting financially. In many ways, Akrama Sakrama was symbolic of the failures of Governance and how deep vested interests have corroded and entered every facet of governance.
I have repeatedly urged the Government to consider a rethought proposal for Akrama Sakrama that ensures benefit for the poor only and not builders and I will not allow builders and their friends in politics and Govt to run Bengaluru.