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Govt. Hopes Amended Registration Act Will Weed Out Corruption
The amended Registration Act will help bring clarity in determining mkt value of land
Having forged a political consensus on the Land Acquisition Bill,the government now hopes to weed out corruption in land deals by amending the Registration Act,1908.Changes include making it compulsory to register leases for a period of less than a year,mandatory registration of power of attorney transfers,registration of property in the state where it is located and allowing inspection of registered documents.Inter-ministerial consultations on the proposed amendments have been completed.The Cabinet is expected to consider the amendments for approval shortly.The amendments are expected to feed in to the proposed land acquisition act as well.The amended Registration Act will help bring clarity in determining market value of land,which will help the collector arrive at a more equitable value for the land during the process of acquisition,an official explained.The main intent of the Registration Act of 1908 was to ensure that land records were both correct and up to date.However,several common practices have undermined the original intent of the Act.The proposed amendments,seven in all,are an attempt to address loopholes in the Act and to address practices that have come up in the last 100-odd years.It is one of the intermediary measures required to move towards a system of conclusive land titles.This would allow for a transparent sale and purchase of land,which over time could minimise acquisition cost of land.At present,leases for a period of less than one year are not required to be registered which results in largescale misuse in case of disputes.To plug this,the government proposes to define lease more comprehensively which would ensure that leases of less than a year but above a specified period are compulsorily registered.The states will decide the floor amount for compulsory registration.Two amendments are being introduced specifically to stem the loss to the state exchequer.The first is the compulsory registration of Power of Attorney sales or transfer of property under Section 17 of the Act.The 1908 Act doesnt require for registration of Power of Attorney.The loophole has been used to transfer property without registering and avoiding paying the requisite stamp duty,determined by the state,and registration duties.This has resulted in an enormous loss to the exchequer and given rise to disputes.At least 20-30 % of land transactions in the country today are done through the power of attorney route.The second measure is that property will have to be registered in the state in which it is located.At present,people who own property in more than one state can register property in any of the states in which they own property irrespective of the location.This creates a situation of shopping for the lowest stamp duty and states lose out on revenues.The ministry has proposed amending Section 28 of the Act to say that documents related to the transfer can only be registered in states where the property is situated.Nikhil Sahni,managing associate at law firm Luthra & Luthra,says presently people are taking the risk of going to another state where registration of power of attorney is permissible even though the underlying land is in a different state.In illegal colonies where land registration is not allowed and in cities where stamp duty for registration is high,many people have been using a loophole in the Act to register their property outside the concerned state where stamp duty is lower, says real estate consultant Amit Kaicker,who specialises in land deals.This is a loss of revenue for the government, he says.In an effort to promote transparency,it has been proposed that registered documents will now be available for public inspection.This would mean that miscellaneous register,known as Book 4,where all registered documents are entered will be available for inspection of the public at all times.This will improve transparency and make the land records system more robust.Another change that has been proposed will give registration officers the right to refuse registration.This would mean that documents relating to transfer of properties belonging to the government,under litigation,belonging to charities and whose transfer has been banned by the state government can be refused by the registration officer.Changes are also being suggested to encourage computerisation of records and the use of the Unique Identification (UID) or Aadhaar number to check and verify identity of persons seeking registration of property.
THE PROPOSED amendments,seven in all,are an attempt to address loopholes in the Act and to address practices that have come up in the last 100-odd years AT PRESENT,leases for a period of less than one year are not required to be registered which results in largescale misuse in case of disputes TO PLUG THIS LOOPHOLE,the government proposes to define lease more comprehensively which would ensure that leases of less than a year but above a specified period are compulsorily registered
Economic Times, New Delhi, 24-04-2013