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Wrong use of one English word by BDA in lease deed created havoc: HC

Bengaluru, January 9, 2023

The High Court of Karnataka has quashed Bangalore Development Authority’s letter asking city-based Suchitra Cinema and Cultural Academy to return a “donation” of ₹50 lakh after statutory auditor raised objection for such a donation made while renewing the lease deed in 2010.

The court said that wrong use of terminology ‘donation’ by the BDA in the lease deed for the concession given in the form of lease of civic amenity sites, though there was no ‘donation’ of any amount to the academy, had led to the statutory auditors raising objection for ‘donation’.

Justice Krishna S. Dixit passed the order while allowing the petition filed by the academy, a trust, questioning the letter written by the BDA in 2014 seeking return of the ‘donation’ amount.

“The wrong employment of this one single word of English has played havoc in the matter to a great prejudice to the petitioner-trust. It was Bertrand Russell who decades ago had said that, if language is said is not what is meant, then what needs to be done would remain undone or misdoing,” the court observed.

The court said that the BDA, which had given some concession to the academy based on the instruction of then Chief Minister, could have offered a proper explanation to the audit objections clarifying what ‘donation’ meant in the light of concession given in the lease but it did not choose to do so.

Even the auditors have not sought any explanation from the academy, the court said while pointing the auditing team was swayed away by this English word without ascertaining the substantial nature of the transaction of renewal of lease deed as the concession of the kind given by the BDA to the lessee is not alien to the law of leases. By no stretch of imagination such a concession could have been termed as ‘donation’, the court observed.

The BDA had initially leased the CA sites in favour of the Academy for 30 years in 1979 and the lease was renewed in 2010 with certain concessions.

The court said that the petitioner-trust is relieved of the obligation to pay the amount claimed by the BDA based on audit objection.

[The Hindu]

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