Supreme Court ruling puts spanner into benami land deals in Himachal

Shimla: Supreme Court order about sale of land or built up property through general power of attorney (GPA), or sale of agreement (SA) entered into without a registration deed has put a spammer into a lot of benami land deals in the hill state.

Speaking about the implications of the Supreme Court order, Tarlok Chauhan, a senior lawyer said, “it has put a question mark on many benami property deals in the state that are not registered with municipalities or revenue officials.”

The three judges bench of Supreme Court headed by Justice Raveendran on Tuesday had decreed that

“We therefore reiterate that immovable property can be legally and lawfully transferred/conveyed only by a registered deed of conveyance. Transactions of the nature of `GPA sales’ or `SA/GPA/WILL transfers’ do not convey title and do not amount to transfer, nor can they be recognized or valid mode of transfer of immoveable property. The courts will not treat such transactions as completed —-.”

With the court applying the same yardstick for transfer of property on lease hold basis, Chauhan pointed out that since there was an embargo on sale of agricultural land to non-agriculturalists or non residents of the state, the modus operandi for taking ownership of a property was by entering into a long term lease holding agreement with the rightful owner.

Many such agreements are made either through GPA or sale of agreement, where the ownership title does not change in the revenue registration records, he added.

Property dealer Amarjit Singh said that the Supreme Court order was going to stifle the business of real estate agents who resorted to dubious ways for defeating the law.

Sources in the revenue department disclosed that there were hundreds of cases of property sales that had taken place in the state, during terms of successive governments, which were not got registered.

Evading stamp duty and registration fee on the one hand caused loss of revenue, it also left behind a defective ownership title that often resulted into disputes, said the government official.

Sources say that much property and lands had changed hands in Kasauli, Dalhousie, Dharamshala, Manali, Solan, Shimla and other cities by way of subverting the law.

However, Chauhan maintains, should the provision of registration of properties be enforced strictly, it would curb much of the benami land deals in the state.

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