Differences in the “real” value of land and circle rates in the national capital is not only facilitating black money inflow in the property market but also causing revenue loss to the exchequer, the Central Information Commission has said.
It has also directed the chief secretary to review the policy and carry out an inquiry.
Using its powers under the RTI Act, Information Commissioner Professor M Sridhar Acharyulu has directed the chief secretary to take a “serious look” at the policy of circle rates and put them on the website.
Expressing concerns over impact of poor land valuation on the RTI Act, Acharyulu observed, “The Commission finds in many cases before it that several public authorities are escaping accountability under RTI by showing value of the land given to them by the government as ‘commercial value’ which is an open lie as every one knows the real value would be thousand times more than what it was shown to be.”
The observations of the commission came on a plea filed by activist S P Manchanda, who had given a detailed description to the Delhi government on the loopholes in the process to determine rates of land in various circles resulting in revenue loss. Making a special observation on the plea, Acharyulu has also termed Manchanda’s application as “one of the best RTI applications”.
He said several hospitals, sports clubs and cricket associations are claiming that the land was given to them at commercial rate, simply because the state does not have any document to say that they have properly assessed the value of the land in a particular area.
“Because of this, every selfish person or profit-motivated corporate body is trying to take prime government land using corruption as an easy tool and making huge profits at the cost of the public exchequer and imposing burden on common consumers,” says the order.Acharyulu said all this is facilitated by the absence of “minimum governance” at the higher level, where the powers “prefer to relax and refuse to decide what is the value of the land”.
RTI activist Subhash Agrawal, who is fighting for BCCI to be declared a public authority, said, “The huge Firoz Shah Kotla Stadium located on one of the most prime locations at Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg in Delhi has been given an exclusive circle rate in a much lower ‘C’ category with just rupees 1,59,840 per sqm, rather than it being categorised in ‘A’ category with circle rate of Rs 7,75,000 per sqm.”
In his submission to the Delhi government in 2013, Manchanda had claimed that the circle rates have been wrongfully kept uniform all over the national capital, which is resulting in serious revenue loss to the exchequer.
“In Kesavpuram, market rate of an MIG flat is Rs 1.4 crore, whereas the stamp duty collected on the basis of circle rate is Rs 40 lakh, thereby the stamp duty on the Rs one crore value is lost. Similarly in Narela, the value of a flat is 15 lakh, but the circle rate is as high as Rs 37 lakh, on which the stamp duty is collected, hence there are no buyers for flats in that area,” Manchanda had claimed giving an example.
He approached the Delhi government seeking to know action taken on his suggestion, but he approached the Central Information Commission on not getting satisfactory response. During the hearing, the Delhi government representative accepted the anomaly and said a new section has been inserted in the Indian Stamps Act.