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TANSI case: guideline value takes centrestage

By A. Subramani

CHENNAI, OCT. 17. Faced with a barrage of must-answer queries from Mr. Justice N. Dinakar in the `TANSI land deals appeals case', the specially appointed prosecutor, Mr. K. V. Venkatapathi, said Rs. 3 lakhs per ground price was applicable to the TANSI-Tamil Nadu Cooperative Sugar Federation deal alone.

Mr. Venkatapathi contended that the Federation being a statutory body and a `Government concern', the land was transferred to it without any tender, that too for a low price of Rs. 3 lakhs. Moreover, it was a conditional offer which necessitated the Federation to construct 15,000 square feet of super-structure and hand it over to the TANSI. This offer should not be used to justify the TANSI-Jaya Publications and TANSI-Sasi Enterprises deals, he added.

But, Mr. Justice Dinakar, contesting the claim that the Federation was a `Government concern', asked the prosecutor to let him know about the legal status of the Federation. To this, the prosecutor replied that the land transfer deed was executed in favour of the Sugar Commissioner, who is an IAS officer, making it clear that the Federation was under the control of the State Government.

The judge also expressed his disagreement when Mr. Venkatapathi said the guideline value of a land transaction would be applicable to all prospective deals in the same registry limits. ``If so, what would be the guideline value of Survey Number 105 which falls partly in Chennai city limits and partly in Kancheepuram registration district?'', he asked.

The guideline value factor again took centrestage when the judge remarked that the special judge had ``misdirected himself too much by oscillating between the guideline value and market value''.

Mr. Justice Dinakar also asked the prosecution as to how the figure of Rs. 7.32 lakhs per ground was arrived at, to calculate the ultimate loss to exchequer. ``What guided the sub- registrar to come to a conclusion that the property was worth Rs. 7.32 lakhs per ground. There must be some basis for the figure''.

Mr. Venkatapathi said in 1990 the Jaya Publications bought a piece of land from the Idhayam Publications at Rs. 6 lakhs per ground. The rate was arrived at after the sub-registrar referred the matter to the Inspector-General of Registration, whose letter to his deputy in this regard was marked as a prosecution document.

Mr. Venkatapathi said that Rs. 7.32 lakhs was reached after the parties in the Idhayam Publications-Jaya Publications land transaction were asked to pay stamp duty for that amount. ``They did not contest the Registration Department's notice'', he added.

Noting that just because the parties did not contest the claim the department should not fix it as a permanent guideline value for future transactions, the judge wondered, ``ultimately it is the decision of one man, on the basis of which you will tell parties that they have to pay more''.

Mr. Venkatapathi had a tough time when the judge raised doubts over the admissibility of the letter itself. Mr. Justice Dinakar rapped the prosecution in the trial court for having failed to examine both the author and the addressee of the letter, which was a vital document, according to the judge.

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