Is Government of Karnataka preparing itself to facilitate Real Estate Frauds?

Today’s Kannada Prabha (Bangalore Edition) has carried an article as above. It is titled “Online Property Registration System: Confusion”. The article goes on to indicate that the Government of Karnataka has prepared itself for introducing a new system of property registration called “Easy Registration” in which part of the registration process is completed without the property owner presenting himself before the registrar.

A Complete English version of the circular is not available at this point of time and when available, the same will be posted here.

We had on September 19, 2015 posted an article titled “ Has Karnataka Legislature passed a faulty legislation and set to create a new Telgi ?“. In this article we had referred to an amendment that the Karnataka Government proposed for Indian Registration Act 1908 to enable registration of properties and Power of attorney documents without the presentation of the executant in front of the registrar.

We had highlighted that this was ultra vires the central Act namely Information Technology Act 2000 (ITA 2000/8) and hence cannot be passed.  There is no need to repeat this again here.

Subsequently we had also posted an article on August 11, 2017, titled Calling Attention of Dr Ponnuswamy Venugopal- AIADMK MP- on Proposed Amendment to Indian Registration Act 1908 ” where in we had indicated that the Parliament may also pass a bill which is ultra vires the ITA 2000/8.

The current article in Kannada Prabha under the credit line of Shivakumar Belitatte, appears to indicate that the Government has proceeded to act on this proposed amendments. I am not aware if the Government got the assent of the President for the proposed amendments. My request to the Government officials on this has remained unanswered and some body has to file an RTI to get the information.

Under the circumstances we proceed with the assumption that the Government is trying to introduce the system in defiance of the Central Government’s authority which has become a sort of political bravado some State Governments are trying to show as a part of their personal vendetta against the Prime Minister. Ms Mamata Bannerjee of West Bengal is in the forefront of such “Rogue States” opposing every action of the Central Government solely for the sake of opposing Mr Modi. Unfortunately, Karnataka Government run by Congress Party seems to be also following the footsteps of “Didi” and I would like to caution the IAS officers who advise the Government in this regard to show wisdom and courage to provide correct advise to the politicians who are blinded by their personal political agenda.

The purpose of this article is not to start a political debate on whether Karnataka is becoming a “Rogue State” like West Bengal. However, it is our duty to point out if any of the decisions proposed to be introduced by the Government has the danger of an adverse impact much beyond the immediate political obectives. This decision to introduce “Online Registration of Property documents without the physical presence of the registrant” is one such decision that has the potential impact of facilitating large scale frauds in the real estate transactions in the State and therefore needs to be guarded against.

I foresee the possibility of the real estate mafia to register benami properties and conduct land grab operations by initiating false and fraudulent property transfers without the knowledge of innocent property owners.

The urgency for introducing the online registration which is illegal at this point of time and ultra vires the powers of the State Government could have been felt because some of the properties of influential people are benami holdings and with the pressure on black money elimination, the benami properties need to be converted into other forms or sold off. The online registration system will be helpful for this purpose.

Along with the Benami property holders taking advantage of the system, there will be Cyber Criminals who will devise new forms of attack where by the properties of innocent citizens would be transferred without their knowledge. Some of this could be the properties of NRIs who may not know what is happening here or properties of deceased persons or properties which are in legal dispute.

As a result, all real estate property holders will be exposed to a Cyber Crime Risk which will render holding of property in Karnataka more risky than in other places. Those IT employees working abroad and holding locked flats in Bangalore may find that new flat owners could have been created overnight and properties sold off.

According to the news paper report referred to above, some of the senior officials have objected to the system but it appears that the political leadership has over ruled them.

I wish the IT Secretary and the Law Secretary stand up and resist this ill advised move.

Those in the public service who will read this and the local media should take up this matter with the High Court and ensure that the move is stayed with immediate effect.

I hope the CM of Karnataka realize that this move is very dangerous and will create an irreversible situation as was created by the incident of fake Stamp papers created by Mr Telgi because of which many property documents today are in use though the stamp papers used in the documentation are fake.

My friendly advise to the Chief Minister of Karnataka is that his political fortunes are better secured by not pushing through this “Online Registration System for Immovable Properties” and he should not succumb to the pressures from outside despite the need to raise funds from real estate operators to fight the next elections.

I also take this opportunity to call the attention of the Central Government to ensure that the move is stopped along with the bill in the Parliament which is under consideration.

Naavi

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About Vijayashankar Na

Naavi is a veteran Cyber Law specialist in India and is presently working from Bangalore as an Information Assurance Consultant. Pioneered concepts such as ITA 2008 compliance, Naavi is also the founder of Cyber Law College, a virtual Cyber Law Education institution. He now has been focusing on the projects such as Secure Digital India and Cyber Insurance
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