The Mamata Banerjee government has directed land department officials to verify documents on receipt of any complaint of land grab through forged deeds instead of leaving it to the original owner of the plot to buttress his/her claims.
The move marks a significant departure from its previous policy where the original landowner had to establish that his plot was sold illegally through a forged deed.
The shift in the policy has been attributed to a series of complaints of expropriation of plots through forged land deeds in the past few months, especially in rural areas.
“There are reports of attempts to get names recorded in the ROR (records of rights or parcha in common parlance) by furnishing fake or forged deeds… Immediately on receipt of such information, through written complaints or otherwise, BL&LRO (block land and land reforms officer) shall refer the matter to the registration authority concerned,” reads an order issued by the principal secretary of land and land reforms department on January 17.
The order further said the officials at the block level should lodge an FIR with the police in case it was found that a land parcel was registered by using a forged deed.
“Once confirmation is received from the registration authority that the deed is fake or forged, penal action should be initiated against the wrongdoer by lodging FIR with the local police station,” the order reads.
A section of the officials said the state government had decided to be proactive in dealing with the complaints as majority of them had come through the ‘Didi Ke Bolo’ grievance cell and were against Trinamul Congress workers.
“Such complaints might spell trouble for Trinamul ahead of the 2021 Assembly polls considering people’s emotional attachment with their
land. The ruling establishment wants to send a clear message that it would not tolerate such activities,” said an official.
A senior government official explained how the practice of grabbing land with forged deeds was on in rural areas.
“Those having political patronage forge a land deed (commonly known as dalil) with the original owner’s photograph and fake signature. Then, the forged deed is used to sell off the land to someone who doesn’t know the original landowner personally. In most cases, the real owner comes to know about the illegal sale when the buyer starts construction on the land,” said the official.
“Primarily, I feel such a smooth transaction is not possible without the involvement of those in the department. The original owner used to suffer a lot because he had to run from pillar to post to establish his claim after filing a case under Section 54 of the Transfer of Property Act,” added the official.