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.