Can Bengaluru ever become Khatha-mukt?

Let us first analyse what is Khaatha. It is just an account number allotted to property owners by BBMP so that property tax paid by them is credited to that particular owner’s ‘account’. It is in no way different from a Bank Khaatha (account in English). It is directly derived from the earlier Property identifcation number like Survey number or previous Khaatha number.

After allotting Khaatha, BBMP Officials move further to assess the property tax which is dependant on the area (how developed the area of the property is), and sq ft area of the relative property. It is also related to notional annual rental area of the property.

Combined with all these parameters, SAS or Self Assessment Scheme was introduced by BBMP making the propety owners fill up these parameters in each year’s Property Tax paying form. Now of course this is computerised and the challan is printed and given by BBMP Ward office to facilitate the Property Owners to directly pay the tax by using this form after signing on them at Canara Bank, Axis Bank or HDFC Bank..

B Khaatha of a property states that “THIS IS A PROPERTY WITHOUT KHAATHA”. The lacuna in B Khaatha is that it is assumption that they are built on lands without valid sanction or built on revenue land etc and B Khaatha is losely issued to many of the Apartments without any due inspection or assessment of the building.

This article deals with specifically position of flats being issued B Khaatha and undue hardship caused to innocent citizens for many years. It has become easy to brand any apartment as B Khaatha category, sitting in the office, without assigning any specific reason. Circular on B Khaatha was issued on 28-08-2009. Initially, in the year 2009, BBMP officials were not aware of the true reasons for clamping B Khaatha on many properties.

Multiple reasons to issue B Khaatha

Initially they started claiming, without referring to documents and files that it is because of not converting the vacant land to non-agricultural (i.e. revenue land). Then they said betterment charges were not paid for the land and hence B Khaatha. Later on when people started approaching RTI route to dig the matter further, BBMP stated falling back upon the fact that absence of OCCUPANCY CERTIFICATE and hence B Khaatha.   But, there are many instances where BBMP went ahead with regular Khaatha without OC for various reasons.

Even though Khaatha process is so simple, in some cases, it is dragged for 7 to 10 years and beyond. Actually it needs to be simplified to facilitate honest tax payers to pay their legitimate dues to BBMP, but no regard is given to the feelings of the property owners and the issue drags on and on for years together. No vigorous follow up is made by BBMP to bring all the property owners into tax bracket.

As a result, in an Apartment having multiple flats, there could be many flats not paying taxes for years together leave alone getting Khaatha at all. Basically many people do not want to go through the ordeal of Khaatha. Let us forget for the present defaulters and concentrate on Khaatha issue alone.

Khaatha is redundant in progressed countries

It is found that Khaatha is redundant in countries like America. Once the sale deed or deed of trust is done it is the end of the matter. Indivdual states in America fix a certain fixed rate like 1.2 % of assessed value of house as tax rate. Why America, there are some citizen-friendly states in India too, where Khaathas are issued on the same day of making application to facilitate smooth payment of taxes to the Government.

A buyer spends a lot of time, energy and money in the process of buying a flat. But even after the registration of a Sale Deed, his / her woes continue much longer. When will we see a citizen-friendly atmosphere in Bangalore? If there is a will there is a way. It is estimated that there are about 2,00,000 properties booked under B Khaatha in Bangalore alone.

Here’s what needs to be done:

1. Conducting periodical inspection of  under construction sites. by the Plan sanctioning  / Engineering Department of BBMP

2. Connecting BBMP office with Sub Registrar’s Office in tax matters to see that tax arrears are cleared before executing a sale deed.  

3. Sub Registrar may be asked to insist upon sellers to get an NOC from BBMP before transferring a property by registering property deeds. In such a scenario, innocent buyers who are not a part to building violation need not face endless hurdles, thereby genuine, and honest tax payers are supported.

Also read this article to understand how such efforts were derailed.

Can we have a Khaatha-mukt BBMP?

A lot of change in the mindset of officials and the government is needed to really improve this sluggish process. Unfortunately the victims of B Khaatha are scattered and there is no organised effort to highlight the serious plight of  the sufferers.

BBMP has gone one step ahead by clamping B Khaatha to Apartments completed and occupied much before Aug 2009 also. This is like issuing traffic challans to those who entered a road on previous occasions, after fixing No Entry Board. But nobody wants to resolve this gross error. 

It may not be out of place if we recollect the verdict of Hon High Court of Karnataka passed in the WP 6734 -6751/2013 (LB BBMP) in December 2015, holding that the practice of issuing of B Khaatha is illegal. Further the HC also directed BBMP that all the B Khaatha holders are to be issued A or Suvarna Khaatha forthwith. Can we aspire one day to see Khaatha-Mukt BBMP soon?

The ambit of this write up is not to circumvent the legal provisions and press for ratification of all the buildings built on encroached lands or on public property or on revenue land or lake beds or public roads or on properties with defective titles etc at all. No such dilution of principles of natural justice is advocated here.