Khata quagmire: Bengaluru residents have nightmares

In November 2010, 15 families of survey number 27 in 4th main, OMBR layout, had their houses demolished by the BDA. While the residents had plan sanction copies from village panchayat and a CMC khata, the layout was illegal. They did not own either a BDA or BBMP khata. The residents, mostly senior citizens, had invested their life’s savings in the property. BDA recovered the land saying it was under its jurisdiction.  Citizen Matters came to know about this through a letter from the residents. Times of India also reported on this late last year.


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This land was a revenue site which did not have BDA approval for layout formation. All over Bangalore, many layouts face the same problem – they pay taxes to BBMP, but they come neither under the BBMP nor under BDA. Because of this, they also suffer lack of basic facilities.

These layouts, also called ‘revenue layouts’, cropped up mostly during the last two decades as the city grew rapidly. Builders started construction in revenue (agricultural) lands without conversion. Revenue lands come under the jurisdiction of BMRDA (Bangalore Metropolitan Regional Development Authority) and pay tax to village panchayats. Village panchayats come under taluk office (Tahsildar), which in turn comes under Deputy Commissioner (DC), Bangalore Urban district.

A grand mess of land, rules  and flouting

According to the Karnataka Land Reforms Act, for any land conversion, builder should apply to the Deputy Commissioner (DC), Bangalore Urban. DC notifies BDA about the application; if BDA approves, a layout can be formed under BDA’s jurisdiction. Such layouts get khatas from BDA and facilities like water, power, and roads as per BDA norms. After development they are transferred to the BBMP.

"Most builders randomly started construction in agricultural lands and sold the sites to public after developing minimal facilities. Buyers were not even aware that these layouts were illegal," says K Prathapan, a Bangalore-based lawyer.

For builders, selling these sites was easy as they were registered only as property and not as sites/layouts themselves. While revenue records will be with Tahsildar’s office, the transaction needs to be registered at the sub-registrar’s office only.

Prathapan says, "As long as the stamp duty is paid and the survey numbers are mentioned, a sub-registrar can register any property. Though he is supposed to check and survey these sites before approving these transactions, he will not face any legal action in case of irregularities." With no system to check irregularities, illegal layouts came up in many areas in the city. "Around 4-5 lakhs of such sites exist in Bangalore," Prathapan says.

While these sites remained under panchayats or CMCs initially, they came under BBMP with the expansion of the Palike. Now these layout residents pay taxes to the BBMP, but they do not own a BBMP or BDA khata. Many own only panchayat or CMC khatas. Nor do they pay betterment charges to BBMP. Without betterment charges, BBMP does not provide facilities to these areas.

While BBMP sites are referred to by khata number, Property Identification Number and ward number, BDA properties will have a site number and layout reference. But illegal sites will be recognised only by survey number in documents, like agricultural lands. Also the extent of land for these sites will be measured in acres, while regular residential sites will be measured in square feet.

Residents of some such layouts are now waiting for the implementation of Akrama-Sakrama scheme, even as they have given representations to the government for regularising their property.

Even in a BDA-approved private layout, land can be de-notified by the BDA if it has not been developed according to BDA’s norms. This happens if BDA has given only an NOC (No Objection Certificate) for forming the layout. BDA gives an initial notification for acquiring the land and then a final notification. An NOC (No Objection Certification) can be obtained to ensure that BDA has not already acquired the land for a different purpose. But if norms are violated, land can be taken back before the final notification. Khata is the principal document to establish ownership here.

Misappropriation

Then there are cases of misappropriation by government officials and developers. In Whitefield, many houses are yet to get BBMP khatas – the documents of many property owners were lost when they were being transferred from village panchayats to CMC and then to BBMP as the jurisdiction changed. Many residents were asked by the BBMP officers to pay huge sums for khatas. Residents have united to get khatas without bribes through a campaign ‘Khata Without Korruption’, spearheaded by the anti-corruption initiative ipaidabribe.com.

In Hosakerehalli in Girinagar, many people are waiting for allotment of sites though most of them paid for sites about three decades back. The builder Vishwabharathi House Building Co-operative Society sold the plots though BDA did not give approval for forming the layout. After court cases lasting decades, the Supreme Court ordered that sites should be allotted to the buyers.

But the builder allotted sites to new owners ignoring those from whom he had collected money earlier. On buyers’ appeal, High Court later ordered that allotment should be made in the order of payment – those who paid first will be allotted the sites; but irregularities continue. "Sites are being allotted to even minors – they certainly could not have reserved the plots in the 80s," says TM Suryanarayana, who had bought his plot in the 80s and has still not been allotted a site.

In another case in Chattupalya in Kengeri, forged documents are being used to grab sites in a revenue layout. The original owners of the land had given the power of attorney to a realtor in the early 90s, who had sold the sites to individuals. Recently relatives of the original owners gave the power of attorney to another person, who is now said to be grabbing sites from those who had bought the land earlier. Since the layout itself is not BBMP-approved, most residents do not have khatas and are reluctant to file court cases.

There have been initiatives like Sachidananda Nagara Nyayapara Andolana and Khata Against Korruption that helped some communities in solving ownership issues and getting khatas. But such movements have not taken off on a large scale and most citizens find no solution for property-related issues.


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About Navya P K 253 Articles
Navya P K is a journalist at Citizen Matters, and a freelance journalist based in Kerala.

3 Comments

  1. Hi,
    Thank you very much for the details. Appreciate if you could guide on what if we already bought it.

    I recently bought a house (which had some legal issues which got cleared by court when the plaintiffs withdrew it). Also I went through legal opinion of my banks lawyer (from which I got loan) who too approved it. But what we dont have is Akrama/Sakrama (we got only B-Khata and that too with previous owners name as B-Khata cannot be transferred) and DC conversion.

    What else needs to be done further on this.

  2. Dear Ms.Navya,
    There are issues regarding survey numbers and registrations. The GPA sales of properties is the most dangerous of all. It is the duty of the buyer to ensure that he buys the right property with clear titles and complied with all statutory requirements. The Revenue sites, which are formed and sold, still retains its agriculture nature and all the titles in the revenue records stands in the name of the original owner(same as the case of HRBR) which you have cited,(Even the DC converted) and if the BDA/KHB acquires or notifies, the original owners get the reward. Take for instance, the gramathana, most of the panchayats issue forms, which is illegal, because, the gramathana is the area within 200 meters from the periphery of the village boundary, clearly earmarked in the village map. Who is bothered to check it? So those, who are innocent or ignorant or hesitant pay for their mistakes and ignorance. DC conversion order has lots of conditions and time frame. Even, if any one of the conditions is not complied, the order gets cancelled without any notice and the Govt has the right to demolish the structures on the said property.
    GPA sales in most of the cases are on fake or forged documents. During the sale process of such properties, many family members of the sellers are left out in the genealogical tree (family members who disagree or does not accept the sale) deliberately. Once such a transaction comes to their notice, they will initiate legal proceedings. Or if the prices shoot up, the sellers or their relatives, issue notices or obtain injunction orders.
    It is of no use to blame the SR or DC or any other officials, because the ultimate victim or the buyer will not get any relief from them. It is better to obtain clear opinion on all aspects, before the purchase.
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  3. Dear Mr.Navya,
    The buyers must aware and must investigate the documents. Most of them does not even obtain legal opinion and leave alone the investigation. The BDA or DC are not at fault. We have verified many number of documents at DC office and BDA/BMRDA/AC offices and have found discrepancies of abnormal proportions and have reported it to our clients. Many buyers rely on bank loan. You have quoted only one such incident. We have innumerable such cases in HSR, UTTARAHALLY and other areas, where BBMP has issued kathas on misrepresentation of facts and documents. A thorough investigations is required to avoid such mess.
    There are issues on katha transfer.
    Why anybody should pay XXXXX to the officers? Most of the buildings have large scale violations and deviations and have not obtained Change of Land use(Residential to commercial) etc and hide facts regarding the titles and other issues. They pay XXXXX to hide or ignore such issues. Who is at fault?
    For instance, the apartments, 75% of them have large scale violation and deviation and if the revenue inspector intimates it to the AEE, he has to inspect and issue demolition order. To Avoid, the builders take upon themselves to transfer the katha or pay XXXXX to the officials. 75% of the apartments do not have CC and OC. Most of the DC conversions are out of date or have not complied with the conditions. How can a revenue officer accord approval for the katha transfer for such properties?

    It is the responsibility of the buyer/owner to scrutinise/investigate and obtain all the clear title and comply with all statutory requirements, then they can demand katha transfer without paying any XXXXX.

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