The single largest sector to have created wealth and in short time for people of Haryana has been the real estate sector. Over the years, with land becoming scarce in Delhi, the need for land has expanded to border areas surrounding Delhi, with Gurgaon and Faridabad emerging as the most preferred locations. In the last decade and a half, Noida has come up strongly, as well.
What started as a trickle in the early 80s has now grown into a massive business and all landowners in these areas have become wealthy overnight by simply selling their land. While the land has remained the same, the value has been increasing with each passing year, resulting in increased profits for those selling land.
With large money at stake, politicians and bureaucrats have become increasingly involved in the business of land availability, land transaction and land sale. The stakes are high therefore, all those connected directly or indirectly have made a lot of money, mostly illegally. This has become a parallel economy, where the land mafia is operating in close cooperation with government officials and political support from the ruling party.
This has now taken deep roots in Haryana. The problem has grown worse from mid-2000 when the Hooda government was sworn in for the first time and since then, the entire government machinery seems to be working for the benefit of vested interests. While the larger property developers have been furthering their interests, there has been corruption and fraud by almost all stakeholders, at all levels.
Who are involved in fraud?
It starts with an unscrupulous seller, who may or may not be the legal land owner. In either case, when his intention is to cheat, he involves everyone in the process, from the initial purchase of the stamp paper, to property dealers, officials at the land record office, land registration office, the patwari etc and offers them a share of the transaction.
There are several property dealers who work in collaboration to ensnare unsuspecting potential buyers, who are not aware of the paperwork and related procedures to be followed in acquiring property. In these cases, the property dealers act as their advisors and are party to the fraud. They are not legally liable as they do not record the commission received nor are mentioned in any document or agreement of sale between buyer and seller, therefore, they have very little financial liability in case of dispute. Very often it's the property dealer who act as the liaison between corrupt officials and the buyer and seller and also facilitate the transaction as a front to collect and distribute the illegal money to the concerned parties.
This also involves officials of the Town and Country Planning office and then there are the lower level officials at the district courts that have also been involved.
Common types of fraud
When seller is the legal owner of the property:
The seller may sell this property to multiple buyers and then disappear with the money.
The seller may give General Power of Attorney (GPA) to one or more persons for the same land and collect the money, leaving the claimants to fight the legal battle subsequently.
The seller may have mortgaged his land with one or more banks and taken a loan against the property. He then sells the land to unsuspecting buyers and disappears with the money and the buyer has to fight a legal battle with the bankers to get back their money. There have been instances where the same land has been double or triple mortgaged and then the property has been sold to unsuspecting buyers.
When seller is not the legal owner of the property:
This is when a seller uses false documents to engage in a sale transaction. There have been instances where the seller makes a false ownership document that resemble a real ownership paper and gets it laminated, to pass off as the original. An unsuspecting buyer who fails to get the same verified from the office of the sub-registrar, gets cheated into believing that he is now the rightful owner of the said property.
Very often a buyer who buys a piece of land, ends up discovering that the layout of the plot offered actually belongs to the Forest department or the Gram Panchayat. The seller fraudulently creates a layout and sells the land. The unsuspecting buyer only discovers the fraud when he goes to take physical possession of the said property.
Same land registered under different owners
In the earlier days when the land records were not computerized, corrupt officials in the registrar's office would record the same property with different owners. This would only come to light when the buyer would go to take physical possession of the plot, only to discover someone else claiming possession of the property. The property registration fraud has been fairly widespread. However, with computerization of all transaction, this has now become more difficult.
This is another common problem where one owner may fraudulently get his land extended beyond his actual ownership. When a buyer buys a land and then goes to take physical possession, he discovers that the land has been encroached. This usually happens when the land is being officially marked during a land transaction. Many time the concerned official prepares a false map on behalf of a buyer or seller that ultimately leads to a dispute.
Failure of the state government to curb fraud
Unfortunately, the Hooda administration has to take responsibility for the rise in corruption as it has shown very little resolve or interest in curbing those with vested interests. It has itself been accused of complicity with developers and the same was validated when the Punjab and Haryana High Court cancelled the 350 acre DLF SEZ land allotment.
The Hooda administration was recently in the news on account of its involvement in facilitating the land transaction that involved Robert Vadra. The view that the Hooda administration is deeply involved in several land transaction scams at the cost of the state exchequer, was further validated by Ashok Khemka, the IAS officer who as Director General of Land Holdings and Land Records, began to review various transactions that had taken place during this administration's tenure.
In fact he even took the initiative of trying to introduce the mentioning of UID number in high value deals to reduce the possibility of corruption. But vested interests in the government shot down the proposal. The state government responded by transferring him out of the department and discrediting an honest officer who was merely discharging his duty.
The malaise of corruption has run deep and wide within this administration and unless there is a change in government, there is no hope for Haryana to improve its functioning or its reputation.
The people are tired of this corrupt government as many have suffered from its misrule. It's time the people exercised their right and voted out this government. It's not only time for a Nayi Soch but also the time has come to bring in a Naya Haryana.