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Patta hurdle for land registration

Cuttack, Aug. 17: A new law intended to check fraudulent transaction of landed property in the state is facing its first test.

Implementation of the new regulation has resulted in marked fall in registration of transaction of immovable properties across the state, while legitimate owners of landed property have to suffer due to delay in issue of pattas.

A patta is a legal document issued by the government to the actual owner of a particular plot of land. Patta or record of rights (RoR) is also issued for lands having buildings or houses constructed on them.

Until months ago, registration of transfer of immovable properties by way of sale, mortgage or other means in the state was being allowed on the basis of sale deeds. But the new regulation has made land patta compulsory for registration of transaction of immovable properties.

The state law department notified the Registration (Odisha Amendment) Act, 2013, on February 22 and the new law came into force from April 25.

The fall in registration of transaction of landed property is evident from the more than 25 per cent fall in collection of stamp duty and registration fee across the State. Collection made during April, May and June was Rs 11,840.75 lakh as against Rs 15,833.93 lakh during the corresponding months of the previous year.

The government collects stamp duty of 5 per cent and registration fee of 2 per cent of the total value of the immovable property.

However, inspector general of registration, Odisha, Gobinda Chandra Sethi told The Telegraph: “The fall in registration is no cause for alarm as the genuine owners who want to transfer their immovable property will ultimately come for registration on receipt of their record of rights (RoRs).”

Sethi said: “The sole purpose of the Registration (Odisha Amendment) Act, 2013, is to protect the interest of the public at large and to prevent indulgence of unscrupulous elements in fraudulent transactions.”

He, however, conceded that genuine owners in desperate need of money were not able to sell their property due to delay in issue of pattas from the tehsil office. But he said: “Such cases are negligible”.

Taking note of the problem faced by the public at large due to delay in issuing pattas, the revenue department on July 8 issued a circular to the revenue divisional commissioners of central, northern and southern ranges and all district collectors to ensure updating and correction of land records and issuing pattas be done within 90 days.

“The intention to prevent fraudulent transactions is noteworthy. But the government should have set into motion prohibition on registration of transaction in immovable properties in absence of pattas, only after taking stock of the tehsil and sub-register offices. If that’s not done, people will continue to suffer for delay to issue pattas,” a revenue official said on condition of anonymity.

Official sources said at present the state had 283 sub-register offices for registering transaction in landed properties. Of them, 186 are sub-register offices, but 44 are running without the sub-register. Ten of the 30 district sub-register offices are running without sub-registers.

All the 54 vacant posts of sub-registers are being managed by tehsildars and additional tehsildars. Besides, all the 73 ex-officio sub-register offices are being run by additional tehsildars.

Additional charge of sub-register offices to 127 tehsildars and additional tehsildars is affecting work, especially when it comes to handing out pattas in their respective tehsil offices.

Official sources said that compared to April-June 2013, there had been a 35 per cent drop in collection of stamp duty and registration fee in the northern range, constituting of 10 west Odisha district, for the same period this year. The corresponding drop in collection in the central range, constituting of coastal Odisha districts, was around 24 per cent, while in the southern range it was 8.9 per cent.

In Khurda district, which includes Bhubaneswar, collection of stamp duty and registration fees in April, May and June was Rs 1,621.48 lakh, Rs 1,276.38 lakh and Rs 1,269.69 lakh, respectively. Similarly, the collection in Cuttack district during the same period was Rs 428.32 lakh, Rs 307.54 lakh and Rs 314.60 lakh, respectively.

Sources said though collection of stamp duty and registration fees across the state has dropped by over 25 per cent, the fall in the number of registration of landed property could be much higher.

For instance, in case of Cuttack district, the drop in revenue collection by way of stamp duty and registration fee is 31.7 per cent when compared to April-June last year. But the fall in the number of registration of landed property during the same period is much higher at over 40 per cent.

In the 10 sub-register offices, the average number of registration of land transaction used to be 60 in a day. This has come down to 30 to 40 a day after the patta rule came into force.

It is another matter, the new law has not gone down well several people. In all, 11 petitioners, including one filed by Bhubaneswar Bar Association, have challenged the new law.