BANGALORE: The dispute between Wipro and Bangalore city authorities has erupted again with both planning to approach the courts over property tax that the city's civic body claims the technology services company owes it.
The issue resurfaced after Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) officials visited the Wipro campus in Sarjapur on Wednesday seeking about Rs 16.47 crore in property taxes, which the company has refused to pay.
Wipro called BBMP's action an "illegal attempt to collect money", adding it is the second time in the past 11 months the municipal body has resorted to intimidation to collect money. It further alleged that BBMP officials and corporators arrived at its Sarjapur campus "without prior notice and resorted to highhandedness and arm-twisting tactics."
A senior city official said the municipal body could issue a legal warrant against the $7-billion company and confiscate immovable property from its office.
"Wipro thinks they are above law and government. The company has failed to give any reasons for non-payment of tax," said MS Shivaprasad, chairman of city civic body BBMP's standing committee on taxation and finance. Shivaprasad said the municipal authorities had a seven-hour meeting with Wipro officials on Wednesday, after which the company agreed to pay Rs 5 crore. He said the authorities would be keen to directly reach out to Wipro's billionaire chairman Azim Premji.
Earlier in the year, Premji had criticised the civic body's inability to handle the city's garbage and infrastructure issues. He had called on the media to highlight the issue to bring about change. "It is appalling and unfortunate that responsible leaders of the civic body would choose to deal with a responsible corporate citizen in this manner without being mindful of the process of 'natural justice'," Wipro said in an emailed statement.
"We urge BBMP to follow the due process of adjudication as prescribed in the relevant statute, give Wipro an opportunity to be heard and reach a considered conclusion based on current law." In February, Wipro had won a restraining order from the Karnataka High Court against a similar property tax claim from BBMP of about Rs 19 crore.