In a significant relief to residents, the Chandigarh Housing Board (CHB) on Thursday announced to delink the transfer of ownership from structural violations in the houses. This means people can sell, or convert the house from leasehold to freehold in their own name, while only declaring the violations in an affidavit. No inspection would be carried out as a condition before the transfer.
A concern remains, though. Action can still be taken separately over such violations, and the buyer would be liable for it, according to the decision that was announced in a press release. But, better news is expected on that front too, as a liberal decision is expected next on regularising the structural changes presently classified as ‘violations’, top sources in the board have told HT. It could go as far as a “free hand” within the plot area.
Predictably, the CHB Residents Welfare Federation welcomed the move but sought an assurance that these violations won’t become a reason for “harassment”. “What about people who declare in the affidavits at the time of transfer that they have some violations in their house? Most houses have violations. There are deeper apprehensions of action once that comes on paper,” said federation president Nirmal Dutt.
He said applicants should be permitted to write in the affidavits “that they have made some changes categorised as violations that are under consideration for regularisation by the CHB”. Cases that were held back or even where fee had been returned should now be considered without the formality of fresh applications, he added.
There are around 48,000 dwelling units of the CHB covered by the decision, and most have either been sold awaiting formal transfer or are due for conversion to freehold.
Thursday’s release said the decision — to do away with reports on violations or misuse before transfer — had been taken in a board meeting of January 24 last year. Officials said it was effectively being put into operation now as the board intended to cease the current on-ground practice of using the declaration of violations as means to deny transfer. In fact, there have even been over 20 FIRs against applicants for “falsely” declaring that their houses were free of violations. That is expected to cease on the ground for now, said officials, even though Thursday’s release underlined, technically, that any concealment of facts in the affidavit could also attract legal action.
“[The board] unanimously resolved that henceforth building violations and misuse reports shall not be insisted for conversion of dwelling units from leasehold to freehold and for transfer of dwelling units. [The board] would rely upon the information furnished by the applicants through affidavits submitted along with the application forms as per the format provided.”
It explained that the affidavit will be given by the power-of-attorney holder, freehold applicant, or by both parties in case of mutual transfer. In cases of transfer on death of allottee or in any other such cases, an affidavit would have to be given by the applicant. “In addition to this, a declaration shall be taken from the intended transferee that he/she shall be liable for any building violations/misuse/encroachment on government land. Even in cases where there are violations or encroachments or misuse and reported as such in the affidavit, transfers shall not be withheld,” it clearly stated. “Action regarding misuse/violations/ encroachments shall be taken as per law,” it added.
AFTER ANOTHER RELIEF
The decision comes just days after the board allowed transfer of ownership or freehold on the basis of power of attorney executed even within the nosale, lock-in period.
That decision is significant because earlier the board did not accept any sale agreement signed within the lock-in, which is five years for most houses.
The change in stance comes following a January decision of the Punjab and Haryana high court, which the CHB decided not to appeal against, as had first been reported by HT.