Campaigning for the rights of homebuyers, HT Estates highlights cases it has pursued against malpractices in the realty sectorrealestate Updated: Dec 19, 2013 16:08 IST
1. Fraudulent registration of properties stopped in Noida
The issue: Despite a Supreme Court (SC) ban on sale of properties through general power of attorney, GPA, some revenue officials in Noida sub-registrar’s office exploited legal loopholes to get GPA transactions of Delhi properties registered. They were also allegedly taking bribes of Rs. 22,000 and helping property owners prepare documents making false claims of being residents of Noida. (As per legal provisions, one has to be resident of the place where the GPA is executed, no matter where the property is located). Thousands of property owners from Delhi and Haryana who couldn’t sell their properties through GPA because of the SC ban, were seeking illegal solutions to their problems in Noida. HT Estates, on September 15, 2013, brought the issue to the notice of district magistrate of Gautam Buddha Nagar and Inspector General (Registration), Uttar Pradesh.
And the impact: MKS Sundaram, the then district magistrate of Gautam Buddha Nagar asked the sub-divisional magistrate to enquire into the matter. Taking serious note of the matter, the IG (Registration), too, issued a notification to stop registration of GPAs of properties in other states. As per the notification properties can only be registered by the sub-registrars who have jurisdiction over the area where the property is located. No other sub-registrar can register the property.
2. Freehold status granted to DDA flat owners not able to sell properties held on PoA
The issue: Last year in August the Delhi Development Authority cleared its policy to regularise 2400 farmhouses in the Neb Sarai, Ber Serai, Mehrauli, Satbari and Chattarpur areas, built before February 2, 2007, after charging fines from owners. As the policy went for approval to the urban development ministry, HT Estates questioned the move and highlighted other crucial issues that needed the immediate attention of the ministry. These included solutions for power of attorney holders of more than one lakh DDA flats who were unable to get freehold status and a decision on jhuggi jhopdi colonies like Satya Niketan where residents were fighting for freehold status
And the impact: The urban development ministry paid heed to the issues raised by HT Estates and cleared the policy for freehold status for DDA flat owners who had bought flats on general power of attorney after 1992. Not only that, the ministry also notified the policy which allowed the residents of about 45 jhuggi jhopdi colonies to claim freehold status after payment of penalty. However, many residents allege that the terms of the notification are discriminatory. “Those who have bought properties after 2007 have to pay a huge sum of money, in some cases more than Rs. 70 lakh to Rs. 80 lakh, for freehold status,” a resident has complained.
3. Revenue officials taking bribes for unauthorised properties suspended
The issue: In the sub-registrar’s office in Geeta Colony, revenue official Harish Bajaj, in collusion with tehsildar Susheel Bharti, was helping people register unauthorised properties as authorised. Both the revenue officers allegedly fudged the khasra numbers of hundreds of unauthorised properties for just a paltry sum of Rs. 10,000 for each case. Tipped off by some lawyers, HT Estates brought the matter to the notice of Rakesh Mishra, the then deputy commissioner of East Delhi, who immediately ordered V P Singh, the then additional district magistrate, to inquire into the matter.
And the Impact: Singh enquired into the whole issue and prima facie found that the allegations against the revenue officials were justified. The revenue department suspended the two and a complaint was lodged at the Geeta Colony police station which was later transferred to the Economic Offence Wing (EOW), Delhi Police. Almost after a year of investigations, the EOW registered an FIR against both the culprits. However, they haven’t been arrested yet for reasons best known to the investigating agency. On enquiring further, an EOW official informed HT Estates that the investigating agency had got the copies of the sale-deeds which had been registered during the tenure of Bajaj and had asked the Geeta Colony sub-registrar office for other relevant documents.
4. Some developers in Noida Extension mend ways and stop harassing buyers
The issue: Even though the National Capital Region Planning Board (NCRPB) had given the go-ahead to the Master Plan 2021 submitted by the Greater Noida Authority last year, buyers in the controversy-generating Noida Extension continued to be short-changed. Even after builders restarted work on projects, a number of issues continued to plague buyers such as cancellation of units on the pretext that the buyer had not paid the mandatory 10% to 20% of the booking amount. Many buyers were made to sign on addendums, an addition to the allotment agreement, that included a new escalation clause that stated that the allottee had given his/her unconditional consent to paying an extra amount if there was an increase/decrease in prices during the course of construction. Some homebuyers who had invested in 600-sq-ft apartments at the rate of around Rs. 1800 per sq ft were told by developers that plans for small units had been scrapped and that only bigger units would be constructed at the market rate. The buyers were asked to pay the extra amount or have their bookings cancelled.
And the impact: HT Estates carried stories on these issues. Builders later scrapped the addendum. About 4000 buyers had received cancellation letters from builders. More than 50% bookings were restored. The size issue was also sorted out.