Mischief-monger in undersecretary's office spreads panic in government corridors as well as among the public by issuing circular directing completion of digitisation of land records from 1950 and linkage to UID, failure of which will categorise the properties as 'benami'
According to real estate experts, such a notification was awaited from the Centre as there was buzz about PM Modi’s second move, after demonetisation, to stop circulation of black money believed to be stacked in the real estate industry. PIC FOR REPRESENTATION
Panic gripped the office of the undersecretary to government of India, Rasthrapati Bhavan, last morning, after an official mail signed by the undersecretary Sheo Nath Singh, directing chief secretaries across the country and union territories to complete digitisation of land records from 1950 onwards at the earliest and link them to Aadhaar, started circulating, soon going viral on social media.
The truth: no such communication was sent out by the undersecretary's office. Till the time of going to press, office-bearers were contemplating seeking legal opinion and registering a complaint with the Delhi police.
According to real estate experts, such a notification was awaited from the Centre as there was buzz about PM Modi's second move, after demonetisation, to stop circulation of black money believed to be stacked in the real estate industry.
A senior officer attached with the office of the cabinet secretary, Rashtrapati Bhavan, said, "We inquired with Singh, but he has denied having sent it. He has also said the signature on the notification isn't his. Moreover, he said he's on leave."
When asked if they have registered an official police complaint or are inquiring into the matter, the officer added, "The undersecretary reserves his right to take appropriate steps in the case; you may speak to him."
Singh told mid-day, "I learnt about the matter today; I have not signed any such circular. We are in the process of seeking necessary legal help, which will include registering a police complaint."
The circular is dated June 15 with a copy marked to the Prime Minister's Office (for record) and signed.
'High-level probe must'
Eminent property lawyer and founder of Registration Fee and Stamp Duty Payers' Association advocate Vinod Sampat said, "The circular became viral within minutes and its content was something that was having a direct impact on the life of the public. Only a select few influential people were able to find out that it's fake; what about the million others? The department didn't bother issuing a clarification until now."
"The officer concerned can't shirk responsibility by claiming he didn't sign it, instead of setting up a high-level probe to expose the black sheep within the department, who not only misused the office, but also took the public for granted," he added.
Lawyer Sanjay Chaturvedi seconded Sampat and said, "Aadhaar is the only document that the government can rely on to keep tabs on benami properties across India, and this notification was apt to justify government's stand. But if the officer concerned has denied issuing it, then there seems to be something wrong; someone attached with the office is up to mischief."
What the cirucular is about
The notification directs chief secretaries, additional chief secretaries of states and union territories to complete digitisation of land records, mutation records, sale and purchase records from 1950 of any immovable property, including land (agricultural and non-agricultural) and houses (independent or society) by August 14, 2017. It says the Union of India is considering linking Aadhaar numbers of the owners with their respective properties, and that those not linked shall be considered for appropriate action under the Benami Transaction (Prohibition) Amended Act, 2016.
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