Stamps & Registration dept chants moolah mantra, forgets reforms

Stamps & Registration dept chants moolah mantra, forgets reforms

Stamp duty and registration fee 3rd major source of revenue

Revenue to the State government from the Stamps and Registration department has almost doubled in the last six years, but nothing much has improved in the way services are delivered to the people.

Subsequent governments appear to have treated the department as a milch cow.
A majority of the reform initiatives aimed at providing better services and check corruption–like anywhere registration and online registration– announced in the budgets have remained only on paper. On the contrary, new initiatives aimed at increasing revenue to the government are implemented on priority.

Stamp duty and registration fee are the third major source of revenue to the government. The revenue from this source has shot up from Rs 4,195 crore in 2008-09 to Rs 7,450 crore in the current fiscal year (as per budget estimates).

The anywhere registration project was first announced in the 2008-09 budget as part of the e-governance initiative. But the initiative was abruptly shelved after implementing it in Bengaluru. Even in Bengaluru, anywhere registration is possible only within a registration district (a registration district comprises eight to nine sub-registrar offices) and not across all 42 sub-registrar offices.

The initiative, if implemented across the State, would have ensured availability of all registered documents, including marriage certificates and copies of registered sale deeds, to people without much ado. But subsequent governments since 2008-09 have been only assuring in the budgets that e-governance initiatives would be implemented.

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah had, in his 2013-14 budget, said, “For efficient and speedy delivery of services, the present e-Governance measures would be further strengthened.” But nothing was done. In the 2014-15 budget, he did not even mention anything about implementing reform measures.

“Anywhere registration would have considerably checked corruption at sub-registrar offices. But unfortunately, it was not implemented. Confusion persists on the method of arriving at the rate of stamp duty for joint development agreements. Registration of gramatana sites is in a mess and officials are taking people for a ride. But the department has turned a blind eye to these issues,” said S Selva Kumar, advocate on property matters.

Valuation cell
The Siddaramaiah government, however, took quick steps for setting up a dedicated valuation cell for conducting annual revision of guidance value of properties.

Upward revision of guidance value leads to increase in cost of registration for property buyers and thereby, brings more revenue to the government.

Several of the other people-friendly initiatives in the Revenue department such as conducting city survey, upgrading Bhoomi software and re-survey of all lands in the State are yet to see the light of day.

The proposed city survey (also called Urban Property Ownership Record project) was aimed at providing proper titles to the owners of immovable properties and identify encroachments in urban areas.

N Prakash, Inspector General of Registration and Commissioner of Stamps, said that the department had been striving to provide better services to the people. Implementation of reforms is an on-going process, he added.

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