With a view to checking benami transactions, the Government has made the affixing of the photograph and thumb impression of both the seller and the buyer on property sale deeds compulsory. Will this by itself check malpractices, or are more steps needed to clean up the scene? Our readers respond:
Threat to economy
There are widespread allegations that a number of landowners are convenient facades for their more powerful masters who operate clandestinely. These underground players are never exposed but they pose a serious threat to our economy. In this scenario, affixing of the photograph and thumb impression of both the seller and the buyer on property sale deeds will helpful in curbing the menace. This procedure would demand the buyer to show the source of money. This step will also prevent large-scale acquisition of land by people of dubious distinctions. This will also check the unrealistic skyrocketing of land prices.
Need of the hour
Almost all States in the country have introduced the system of pasting photographs and affixing thump impressions on registration deeds. The Government has, at last, realised the need to prevent benami transactions. The Registrars should see that the transaction is real and the seller gets the full amount mentioned in the document. The official should ensure that the `buyer' is genuine. The parties involved should submit a statement detailing the source of the money.
The rule that the thumb impression and photograph of both the seller and the buyer should be affixed on the sale deeds will definitely curb benami transactions. The circulation of black money can also be checked. But, there are drawbacks to affixing ordinary photographs. In due course, the photographs get faded. Also, the appearances of people undergo a change. Thumb impression is a good option. Proper technology should be used and digital images of people used.
The step will go a long way in preventing benami transactions. A genuine buyer/seller should not have any reason to object to affixing his photo and thumb impression on documents for registration, as these will only add to his credibility. Let everything be frank and transparent. In some States, parties are at liberty to prepare their own documents. They need not go to document writers or advocates or agents to draft and prepare their deeds. This will definitely be a big step in eradicating the corruption.
The identity of all buyers and sellers must be verifiable. There is also a need to ascertain and verify the exact financial implication of the deals. The Union Finance Ministry has enough tools, means and resources to enable such verification and crosschecking and to streamline the transactions. These changes are crucially necessary because of the ongoing tendency of money launderers and terrorists to ease their operations and to gain legitimacy through the real estate and stock market routes.
Any action to stop benami deals is laudable. The Government should also be strict in preventing encroachments and land grabbing.
Steps are to be taken to ensure that the exact price, as mutually agreed, of the property is noted on the sale deed. Any move either from the officials or from the parties concerned to nullify the real purpose of the property sale deeds should be sternly dealt with.
V. Viswanathan Nambiar
Affixing of photograph and thumb impression of both the seller and the buyer, if made compulsory, will surely reduce unauthorised land deals. The registration process starts at the village office level and corruption is rampant there.
This should be eliminated and the officials held responsible for illegitimate transactions.
The move, if implemented properly, would go a long way in checking faulty land deals. All documents should be saved digitally. Those involving in fraudulent means should be punished and penalised. Sufficient funds should be allocated for the computerisation of the Registration department.
It is a welcome step. This will improve the status of registration and avoid malpractices. Let us hope that this move is not bogged down by vested interest groups.
If the seller and the buyer are identifiable it will be easier for the authorities to locate the persons and to take action if requiredBut land sharks, with loads of money, will be able to find people to act as benamis. Thus while the small-time dealers and overnight brokers may be deterred, the really big ones will continue with their business. To overcome this difficulty, the Government may think of enacting a new law that requires notice of at least 15 days before a land sale can be registered. The Income Tax or Enforcement Department can arrange to collect details from the notice boards of the Registrar's Office on a daily basis. Big deals should be specifically scrutinised and the Government should intervene and offer to buy the property at the price agreed between the parties if it is found that there is suppression of value.
Identification of the transferor and the transferee is required only at the time of registration of the document and not afterwards.
Once the registration is over, the document is perfectly valid in law.
So affixing of photographs on the sale deed to check benami transactions will serve no purpose. Moreover, the appearance of a person may changein future. Benami transactions are mostly done with the help of sale agreement or the power of attorney so that has to be checked. So, I would suggest, instead of affixing photographs, impression of all the fingers of the left hand of the buyer and the seller should be affixed on the document. Proper approved identification should also be produced to the satisfaction of the Sub-Registrar.