Khata confusion for Whitefield properties: What’s wrong and why?

Checking the zonal map of Whitefield area can help finding out some violations. Courtesy: clearvalue.in

To understand why some of the confusions arise and why getting Khata is not easy sometimes, knowing the background is important. Here is some backround to the whole issue.

Till the late nineties, if I remember correctly, Whitefield was a Gram Panchayat. The administration of Gram Panchayats is governed by the Karnataka Panchayat Raj Act 1993. Under this Act, the Panchayats are also empowered to collect property taxes. For this purpose, Whitefield Gram Panchayat used to maintain Khata registers. Older residents of Whitefield have copies of these extracts of the Whitefield Khata registers, as also property tax receipts for having paid property tax on their properties.

In the late nineties, Whitefield Panchayat was amalgamated along with a few other Gram Panchayats (such as Marathahalli and Mahadevapura) into the Mahadevapura City Municipal Corporation. Thus, Whitefield ceased to come under the Karnataka Panchayat Raj Act 1993 and its administration came under the Karnataka Municipal Corporation Act 1976. Some of the residents went to the Mahadevapura CMC office and obtained Khatas from them. Others did not. In fact, under the law, there was no obligation cast upon residents to go and obtain Khatas, from the CMC. It was the CMC’s job to automatically take over the Khata records of the Panchayats concerned and amalgamate them into the Khata register of the CMC.

However, this did not happen well at all. Many of the older residents of Whitefield recall that when they went to the CMC office to obtain information, or to make enquiries as to how to go ahead, either they were faced with demands for bribes, or were sent away with vague and misleading replies. Therefore, many residents only have copies of their old Whitefield Village Khatas, and did not obtain the Mahadevapura CMC Khatas.

Everybody knows that Mahadevapura CMC records were very badly managed. This can be traced back to two reasons.

Box 1-50,000 acres encroached: The Karnataka Assembly constituted a committee under A T Ramaswamy, MLA, to investigate into and identify the extent of government land that has been encroached and taken over by land grabbers. It is estimated that more than 50,000 acres of land in and around Bangalore has been encroached. A Task Force has been set up to evict encroachers. It is headed by Balasubramaniam, an ex-Deputy Commissioner of Bangalore District, who had a high reputation for honesty, fearlessness and decisive action. Action on the A T Ramaswamy report is awaited.

(a) The inefficiency of the government system:
When Mahadevapura CMC was formed, the staff of the Rural Development Department, who handled Panchayat matters were withdrawn and municipal employees were posted. Municipalities always were understaffed and Mahadevapura was no exception. Hence it is said that proper records were not maintained from the beginning. There were also complaints that property taxes paid were also not credited to the CMC’s account!

(b) The activities of unscrupulous elements and land grabbers:
When the Whitefield records were transferred to Mahadevapura CMC, it provided an excellent opportunity to ‘lose’ some of these records. Once lost, new records could be fabricated to show new owners for vacant lands, including government lands. Since land values were increasing and commercial development started, land grabbers began to realize that the time when a Village transforms into a part of the city is a good time to fabricate records. Incidentally, it was not the Khata documents alone that were lost in this way. Many Whitefield residents also speak of original survey documents having been tampered with, or destroyed, and fresh evidence fabricated about ownership of lands. (See Box 1)

Merger of Whitefield into BBMP and the issues that consequently arose

On 16-1- 2007, the State Government constituted the BBMP by merging seven CMCs (including Mahadevapura CMC), 1 TMC and some Gram Panchayats, with the erstwhile BMP. In principle, as soon as the Mahadevapura CMC became part of the BBMP, it should have become the responsibility of the BBMP to take over the property list of Mahadevapura CMC and integrate it with its own property list. However, this did not happen. There were both genuine and mischievous reasons for this.

Genuine reasons for delays in integration of Khata register of CMCs with BBMP

Reason 1: Need to standardize property taxation systems:
At the time of merger, the BMP and the CMCs were operating two separate property tax systems. The BMP was collecting property tax on the basis of Annual Rental Value under the optional Self Assessment System, whereas the CMCs, TMC were collecting tax under the capital value system under the provisions of the Karnataka Municipalities Act, 1964. Following the merger, it was felt necessary to bring in a uniform property tax policy in the entire BBMP area. Therefore, 2 years later, the Karnataka Municipal Corporations Act, 1976 was amended on 5th March 2009, by inserting a new section 108A, giving the detailed process for the assessment and collection of property tax on the basis of unit area value, from all properties falling within the BBMP area, including amalgamated areas.

Box 2-Licences by Panchayats: Most cities in the country are growing rapidly and Bangalore is probably the fastest among them. Since land values are very high in the city, many commercial property developers began to develop housing and apartment complexes on the periphery of the city, in lands mostly located in Gram Panchayats. Now, Gram Panchayats are governed by the Karnataka Panchayat Raj Act, and it is under this act that they give the building licences to construct. But this law is not designed to consider instances of construction of such large and complex layouts – it is more for the purpose of handling the construction of farmhouses and smaller individual houses. But since there is a time lag between the actual process of urbanisation and the formal process of including such built up areas into the BBMP, Gram Panchayats had to cope with the task of giving licences to these builders to construct complexes. They were unable to do this well.

Reason 2: Need to take steps against irregularly constructed buildings: 
To obtain a Khata for a new building, it must in the first place be a building that has all the legal sanctions. However, many apartment complexes built in the Panchayats surrounding Bangalore were found to have violated several laws. For instance, they were constructed on agricultural land that was not converted, or were built in violation of building bylaws, or no occupancy or completion certificates had been issued. (See Box 2 & 3):

Problems faced by BBMP, concerning reason 2

Now, the BBMP was faced with a big problem. Let us remember one thing, who loses more, if property owners do not have Khatas? Whilst the Khata is an important document for all of us, it is actually more important for the BBMP, because it is the property list on the basis of which tax can be collected by the BBMP. If a Khata is not given by the BBMP, they lose much more than we do. They cannot collect property tax from you!

How did the BBMP overcome this problem?

So the BBMP did a very smart thing – to not issue regular Khatas for properties that have been constructed irregularly, but at the same time, collect tax from them. They did this by amending sub-section 3 of Section 108A, in the Karnataka Municipal Corporations Act 1976, enabling them to levy and collect the property tax even from a building constructed in violation of the provisions of the building byelaws or in an unauthorized layout or in a revenue land or from a building occupied without issuance of occupancy or completion certificate. The property tax collected from such building is to be maintained in a separate register. This is the B register, and the Khata issued under this register is the B Khata. The B Khata certificate has all the essence of a regular Khata but it will be made regular once the building concerned has been regularized by the authorities.

Box 3-Check the details: Most buyers of flats don’t check these details when they buy the flat. You must check these details . Normally, the sale deed should contain information regarding the mutation of the land, its original owners, order reference regarding the conversion for non-agriculture purposes, etc and also the details of the plan sanction and the occupancy certificate. The builder must also give copies of all these documents to each of the owners who have purchased the apartment. But many sale deeds, especially in the case of apartment complexes, do not contain these details.
In the normal course, if a building has flouted building norms, the builders will not issue the occupancy certificate to flat buyers. In the absence of the occupancy certificate the BBMP will not issue the Khata certificate.

Mischievous reasons causing confusion

The above information takes a little time to absorb, but then, confusion is what corrupt people want! The BBMP staff has been spreading confusion and misinformation about the above issues. Along with the BBMP staff, others in the business of confusion include builder’s agents and other intermediaries.

The first element of confusion that is being created by these elements is that all citizens must apply for a fresh Khata. This is completely untrue. There is no written instruction in this regard. In case you have an erstwhile Panchayat or Mahadevapura CMC Khata, then there is no question of applying for BBMP Khata. Once these areas are taken over by the BBMP on an as-is-where-is basis and it is their duty to amalgamate the registers. If they have not done so, the burden of applying for a Khata does not lie with Property owners.

BBMP has not disclosed the actual legal position to the general public, but their staff verbally insists that even those who have CMC Khatas must apply afresh to obtain a new BBMP Khata. A Khata once issued by a local authority is final and they need not apply for another Khata at all.

Asking us to apply afresh for a Khata is as ridiculous as saying that once we’ve come under the BBMP, we must renew our birth certificates, failing which we will all be treated as officially unborn.

Legal right of an irregular construction in respect of a Khata

It could be that during the erstwhile CMC regime a building might have been constructed in violation of the building byelaws, or the layout formed was not approved by the local planning authority (for instance, the BDA) or that land was not converted from agricultural use to non agricultural use before layouts were formed on it. All these properties are entitled to get a B Khata, under the amended Section 108(A) (3) of the Karnataka Municipal Corporations Act 1976.

Then what is ‘Sakrama’?

Sakrama means ‘regularisation. This is a separate issue altogether, which is not related to Khatas at all. Under the proposed ‘Sakrama’ scheme, the government aims to collect a one-time fine in return for regularizing an illegal construction. Incidentally, this is not yet through and the Governor has returned this law back to the government for reconsideration.

It is the BBMP’s job to clearly separate the Khata and Sakrama issues and inform the public about the correct position under the law.

This post was originally shared by T R Raghunandan on Whitefield Rising Facebook group, and has been republished here with permission.

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About T R Raghunandan 0 Articles

T R Raghunandan is a retired IAS officer who is anti-corruption activist. He has worked with Janagraha to start ipaidabribe.com.

2 Comments

  1. For the “clarion Call”, may have to link / tune to, – “Transform India with Modi”. , Subject: Real Estate Sector – Inputs on issues- @ LocalCircles

  2. Reactions (Impromptu)

    1.’Trishanku’ – like modern idea of twin cities, is this one more- Twin Trishanku?

    2.Here is a Clarion Call of great significance; by responding wholeheartedly, and rushing in own contribution (s) , those directly or otherwise deeply interested would be helping, besides others, themselves.

    3.The write-up attributes the prevailing confusion to BBMP having utterly failed in keeping and updating its property records, but only in and around Whitefield. It should be investigated and reported likewise in all other locations, not excluding the heartland of our beloved city.

    4.There, it appears, has been a largely prevailing common belief, and impression being vociferously propagated, for quite long, that ‘A’ Khata is a must for having registration of property conveyance done , in particular of a second sale, at the Registry. Such a belief or impression floated around, as pin -pointed repeatedly before, prima facie, runs counter to the seemingly correct position in law ; that is, ‘khata’ is
    is in no sense a document (or one of documents) evidencing seller’s rights in the property being sold. Further, in one’s well considred perspective, it daringly flies in the face of the reported court cases holding to the effect that registration of sale deed cannot be refused on grounds such as non-production of the more relevant document namely, ‘completion’ or ‘occupation’ certificate. Interested parties would do well to take and successfully confront the Registry with a firm opinion of a competent lawyer on such issues, in order to put an end to the hassle being faced with in such matters.

    Over to the Author /Editor for exploring in -depth , in consultation with an expert and eminent but reliable property lawyer and coming out with further useful guidance on lead points to the invariably gullible buyers’ community .

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