Property racket lid blown off
Mahithi Hakku Adhyayana Kendra conducted a Social Audit on the registration of revenue properties in Bangalore City after collection about 380 Compact Diskettes of data of about 18000 properties registered in Bangalore city from 1.4.2007 to 31.12.2007. MHAK also collected documents running into 4000 pages from various authorities viz., Inspector Generalof Registration and Commissioner of Stamps and also from the Secretary to Government, Revenue Department. More than 40 complaints and 8 appeals were filed before the Karnataka Information Commission for securing information under Right to Information Act, 2005. Cases were heard by all the three bences of KIC headed by its Chief Information Commissioner Mr. K K Misra, Sri. K A Theippeswamy and Dr. H N Krishna. After a prolonged struggle and legal battle, Karnataka Information Commission ordered for providing copy of CDs relating to Sale Deeds registered in various offices of the Sub-Registrars in Bangalore City. MHAK
submitted various reports on irregularities in registration of Revenue Sites in violation of Karnataka Land Reforms Act to the Government as well as to Governor of Karnataka. The report indicted inefficiency of two senior beaurocrats in the Revenue Department. As a result of which detailed investigation was conducted and finally Inspector General of Registration submitted his report to the Governor on the irregularity in registration of Revenue Sites in Bangalore City.
MHAK also conducted a Social Audit on filing of Assets & Liability Declaration of public servants working in the Department of Stamps and Registration. During Audit it was exposed that more than 20 Sub-Registrars and another 20 officials of lower rank had not filed their Statements consecutively for the past 7 years.
Stamps & Regstration Department has been termed one of the most corrupt Department in the State.
Detailed report which appears on Times of Inida of Bangalore Edition - 2 April 2008 is reproduced below:
As reported by S Kushala in timesofindia.indiatimes.com on 02 april 2008:
Property racket lid blown off-Bangalore-Cities-The Times of India
Property racket lid blown off
BANGALORE: In Dasanapura and Hesaraghatta sub-registrar offices, an acre of land has been transacted and registered as 40 different documents in one day. How? The land has been split into 40 guntas and there is a transaction for each gunta separately by a single sub-registrar.
Rampant registration of revenue properties has got 22 sub-registrars of Bangalore, of a total of 33, into trouble. They are now under the Governor's scanner.
A confidential report prepared and submitted by the Inspector General (Stamps and Registration) H Shashidhar three days ago has recommended investigations into irregularities and action against 22 sub-registrars. The irregularities have come to light after a committee formed by IGR inspected the cases and reported their findings. The report has pointed to violations of the Stamp Act and Land Reforms Act. On Tuesday, the report was submitted to Governor's adviser P K H Tharakan.
What the scam is: The Stamp Act does not ban registration of agriculture properties. It bans the registration of revenue properties — that is, agriculture land sold for non-agricultural purposes without land conversion. But here, agricultural lands were split into smaller blocks and sold separately. "Prima facie, such cases look fraudulent as the motive behind the transaction is development of land for non-agricultural purpose without land conversion. The sub-registrar does not have the power to check the genuineness of the documents but can prevent the registration,'' revenue officials said.
When an acre is divided into 40 documents and registered as a gunta each, the transaction is considered abnormal. This happens when agricultural land is sold to builders without land conversion. The report has pointed a finger at the sub-registrars for clearing the transactions.
The Land Reforms Act has been violated by registering agricultural lands in favour of non-agriculturists. As a rule, non-agriculturists cannot purchase farmland. The department has estimated about 1,000 such document registrations which appeared to be in contravention of law with over 300 acres transacted. A high-level committee is likely to be formed to go probe irregularities.
In Dec 2006, the government issued an ordinance which banned registration of revenue properties. The directive was also meant to ensure that sub-registrars did not violate rules. Erring officials can be imprisoned for one to three years and fined Rs 5,000-10,000 if they aided fraudulent transactions.