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Property scanner on foreigners

New Delhi, Nov. 6: The government has turned the glare on foreigners illegally buying property in Goa and elsewhere in the country, asking states to be extra vigilant.

“It has come to the notice of the central government that foreign nationals are buying immovable property illegally in some parts of the country, particularly in Goa, which has raised concerns,” said an official statement issued by the finance ministry.

“Many organisations and social groups have also made representations to the central government expressing their serious concerns in this regard,” the statement said, adding that foreign nationals coming on tourist visas, too, were buying property, which is illegal.

The ministry has asked states to probe transactions of properties that have already been registered.

Earlier this year, the Goa government had enacted a legislation to amend a 100-year-old law to make it difficult for foreigners to buy land in the state.

Reports said some 400 foreigners were under the Goa authorities’ scanner for supposed violations of the Foreign Exchange Management Act (Fema) and property acquisition laws.

Investigating agencies are also probing how a German woman, who has alleged that her teenaged daughter was raped by the Goa education minister’s son, could lease a villa.

The finance ministry asked the state governments to be extra careful while registering sale or purchase of immovable property and especially check eligibility under Fema.

“The enquiries may include both the intending buyers and sellers. Relevant travel documents and the nature of visa may also be verified before registering such sale or purchase,” it said.

According to the laws, Indian citizens or persons of Indian origin residing outside the country are permitted to acquire immovable property in India, other than agricultural land, plantations or farmhouses.

A foreign company that has a branch or a place of business in India can also acquire immovable property for official purposes.

Foreign nationals with valid visas to work or conduct business, who have already stayed in India for 182 days, are allowed to acquire property, subject to rules prescribed by state governments.

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