Charity land records to go digital in Maharashtra

The digital initiative, which will be rolled out on September 7, will see all details of registered trusts, including their trustees, the nature and the title of the lands they hold.

Written by Sandeep A Ashar | Mumbai | Published: September 5, 2016 1:14 am

In a bid to end malpractice, the Maharashtra charity commissioner’s office has taken up a proposal for digitisation and modernisation of all records related to land deals. Official records pertaining to lands held by charitable organisations haven’t been updated for nearly ten years in Maharashtra, despite several complaints of embezzlement in land transactions.

The digital initiative, which will be rolled out on September 7, will see all details of registered trusts, including their trustees, the nature and the title of the lands they hold, changes of status, etc, updated and made available online.

Currently, such details are manually entered into the record, known as Schedule I, which is available with the Charity Commissioner’s Office. “Due to immense workload and inadequate staff, entries in the Schedule I haven’t been taken for nearly 10 years,” confirmed Charity Commissioner Shashikant Savale.

Statistics show that Mumbai alone has over 95,000 registered charitable trusts, whereas 7.5 lakh such registered organisations exist across the state.

Last month, The Indian Express had reported that the Mumbai police were probing a matter where in a charitable trust had allegedly sold prime government-leased land in Mumbai illegally to a private developer in 2010, claiming that the land was owned by the trust. Investigations revealed that the Charity Commissioner’s office had recognised the illegitimate transaction.

“This could be done only because the records have not been updated,” said a source.

Savale, meanwhile, confirmed there were several other complaints regarding dubious land deals and other violations regarding charity trusts. “We hope to overcome the malpractices significantly, once the records are digitised,” he said.

The Charity Commissioner’s Office is also hoping that once the records are updated, files pertaining inactive trusts could be done away with. According to estimately, nearly 50 per cent of registered trusts exist only on paper, sources confirmed.

Faced with staff shortage, Savale’s office has decided to involve private lawyers and law students in the initiative. Maharashtra has already undertaken an exercise for digitisation of revenue land records.

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  1. H
    havewala
    Sep 10, 2016 at 11:45 am
    I attended the meet. It was called to discuss how and announce the DIGITISATION OF SCHEDULE I, the most important record in Charity Commissioner's office.lt;br/gt;I was silenced when I sought to suggest exactly how the biggest malpractice in Schedule I, can be very simply rectified. The Charity Commissioner refused to discuss this topic. lt;br/gt;The meda did not protest. It appears that the media are very close to the powers.lt;br/gt;The biggest malpractice /"lacuna" in Charity Commissioner's Office is in Schedule I recording. It is this: when a Trustee's name in entered, the date on which her/ his term will end, is not entered. This gives enormous leeway to Trustees whose term has expired, and to the "friendly" officers of the Charity Commissioner's office. In the case of one Trust, the Parsi Punchayat of Salsette, this "lacuna" has permitted "Trustees" to continue for over 15 years after their terms expired !lt;br/gt;I have pointed this out to Chief Justice, Bombay High Court, and, after that, personally to the Charity Commissioner.lt;br/gt;It is a simple matter for the Charity Commissioner to elimiate this malpractice while digitising Shedule I, but he put a BOOCH on me during the meeting called to announce / discuss this digitisation, which gives me the feeling that he intends to permit continuance of this malpractice.lt;br/gt;Navroz Manekji Havewala 09819658535.
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