The Punjab and Haryana high court on Monday issued notice to the Punjab government on a plea seeking determining of collector rates equal to market price for transfer of properties in the state to curb black money being pumped into the real estate business.
A division bench comprising Justice Ajay Kumar Mittal and Justice A S Grewal has issued the notice after taking cognizance of a petition filed by Valuers Association through its general secretary Kapil Dev of Ludhiana.
The petitioner association has submitted that Rule 3-A of the Punjab Stamps (Dealing of Undervalued Instruments) Rules, 1983 empowers the district collectors to determine the “minimum market value of land/properties, located in the district, locality-wise and category-wise and to convey the same to the registering officers for the purpose of levying of stamp duty on instruments of transfer of any property.”
It was further stated that Section 3-A lays down several factors, which have to be considered by the district collector, while determining the collector rates, for instance, “distance from roads, market area, bus stand, railway station, factories, educational institutions, hospitals, government offices and shopping complexes.”
Further, for the purpose of determination of such collector rates, the district collector has to consult experts from various departments, including from officers of the department of public works (Building and Road), department of revenue and rehabilitation, Punjab Urban Development Authority, department of local government, department of rural development and panchayats, department of horticulture / forest / town planning / industries.
The petitioner association alleged that instead of giving free hand to district collectors to determine collector rates of land/properties, the state government is issuing them directions to fix the collector rates in a particular manner, which is against the rules mentioned above. For instance, the financial commissioner (Revenue) issued a notification on September 6, 2017, directing all district collectors to reduce collector rates of properties in urban areas by 5%, and that of properties in rural areas by 10%.
According to the petitioner-association, the collector rates so determined by state government are hardly half of the market value of the properties concerned, with the result that if a property is worth Rs 2 crore in the market, its transfer shall be registered for only Rs 1 crore, and balance amount of Rs 1 crore shall be paid in black money. In this way, black money is being pumped into real estate business, argued the association.