Restoration work of Madikeri monuments: HC refrains ASI from levying service charge on State Government
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Restoration work of Madikeri monuments: HC refrains ASI from levying service charge on State Government

August 26, 2020

Bengaluru: In a significant judgement regarding restoration work of monuments at Madikeri in Kodagu district, the Karnataka High Court on Monday directed the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to take up permanent restoration work of the ancient Fort, Palace premises and tombs (Gadduge) of Kodagu Kings at Madikeri town, the district headquarters of Kodagu, while also asking it not to levy service charge to the State Government for carrying out the work.

A Division Bench of the High Court, comprising Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Ashok S. Kinagi, which heard a PIL filed by J.S. Virupakshaiah, a retired IAS Officer and a resident of Kodlipet in Somwarpet taluk in Kodagu district in 2017, directed the Kodagu Deputy Commissioner to nominate an officer not below the rank of Assistant Commissioner to frequently visit the site of the monuments.

Instructing the officer to be designated to take up the issue with ASI if he/ she finds that the work is not carried out as per the DPR (Detailed Project Report), the bench also directed that the Assistant Commissioner shall submit a report as regards the status of the emergency work and also the status of major restoration or repair works.

Observing that it is a great deal of importance that the said work is carried out efficiently, properly and expeditiously as it is the duty of the ASI to ensure that the protected monuments are restored and maintained, the HC Bench directed the ASI to complete all emergency works within Oct. 14, 2020.

On the service charge issue, the Court directed the ASI, which had contemplated a 23.7 percent service charge on the State Government, not to levy the service charge for carrying out the restoration or repair work.

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Noting that there is no justification at all for the ASI to levy service charge to the State Government, the Bench held that the ASI is not empowered and also not entitled to collect service charge from the State Govt.

The petitioner J.S. Virupakshaiah, in his PIL (Public Interest Litigation), had contended that instead of preserving the protected monuments, the State Government had been running its offices on the Palace premises.

However, during the course of the PIL hearing, the District Administration vacated the offices of Social Welfare Department, Land Records Department and District Library from the ancient Palace premises and had handed over the premises to ASI.

Also, following directions of the Court from time to time, the State Government has released Rs.10.76 crore for permanent works as per the DPR.

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