Govt apathy to HC stay on regn norms may help land sharks

Govt apathy to HC stay on regn norms may help land sharks

Property registration authorities are keeping their fingers crossed as the government continues to be in deep slumber, unmindful of the High Court quashing the guidelines for property registration recently.

Sub-registrar offices are likely to become free-for-all in the absence of guidelines. The sub-registrars, after the HC order, have no powers to verify authenticity of property documents before registration of a sale deed, making it convenient for land sharks to register illegal properties and grab government lands.

The HC had, on March 18, struck down Section 22A of the Registration (Karnataka Amendment) Act, 1976 that deals with registration of documents against public policy, as null and void and quashed all related circulars. The HC said Section 22A was against a Supreme Court order and gave arbitrary and unguided power to the state government to declare particular documents as opposed to public policy.

The aim of the guidelines was to ensure that people aspiring to own a property do not get cheated and to prevent registration of properties in violation of various laws, including Karnataka Land Revenue Act, 1964, Karnataka Land Reforms Act, 1961, Karnataka Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes (Prohibition of Transfer of Certain Lands) Act, 1978 and Karnataka Land (Prohibition of Alienation) Act, 1991. The sub-registrars had powers to refuse registration of illegal properties and recommend cross-verification to the local bodies concerned after registration, if necessary.

Even 25 days after the HC order, neither the government nor the Stamps and Registration department has taken measures to prevent illegal transactions. The sub-registrars have not received any communication on the HC order, sources said.

Sub-registrars contacted by this paper refused to say whether they were following the guidelines while registering properties. The most vulnerable, according to sources, are properties in urban areas. For, the registration software, Karnataka Valuation and E-Registration (Kaveri), has not been integrated with property records of the urban local bodies. As a result, land sharks can easily register properties by producing fictitious documents. In rural areas, Kaveri has been integrated with e-Vinyasa software, which has a database of properties in panchayat limits.

If the government fails to take immediate action, an individual can easily register government land or land banned from transaction such as that notified for acquisition. Inspector General of Registration and Commissioner of Stamps N V Prasad only said the department will soon file a review petition in the HC. Principal Secretary to Revenue department B Basavaraju was not available for comments.
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