Revenue Authorities Refrain From Updating Circle Rates To Facilitate Adjustment Of Black Money In Property Transactions: Punjab & Haryana High Court

Aiman J. Chishti

23 Feb 2024 3:00 PM GMT

  • Revenue Authorities Refrain From Updating Circle Rates To Facilitate Adjustment Of Black Money In Property Transactions: Punjab & Haryana High Court

    Observing that revenue authorities refrain from updating circle rates to facilitate adjustment of black money in property transactions, the Punjab & Haryana High Court rejected the anticipatory bail plea of a Patwari who was accused of showing inflated rates to help the land owners get higher compensation from Competent Authority for Land Acquisition (CALA).Justice Anoop Chitkara said,...

    Observing that revenue authorities refrain from updating circle rates to facilitate adjustment of black money in property transactions, the Punjab & Haryana High Court rejected the anticipatory bail plea of a Patwari who was accused of showing inflated rates to help the land owners get higher compensation from Competent Authority for Land Acquisition (CALA).

    Justice Anoop Chitkara said, "A patwari, Kanungo, and Tehsildar are the key revenue officials at the grassroots level and plays a vital role in the revenue administration at the base level. The allegations of such major leakages in the system at the base level are a matter of grave concern and the concerned Government must deal with the corrupt ones with a firm hand because if the termite of corruption allowed to fest, at this rate, it would slowly but surely bleed state exchequer dry and make our foundations hollow."

    Court said it is common knowledge that in most places, real estate market rates are much higher than the collector rates. "Despite knowing such differences in rates, when it comes to registration of the properties, most of the revenue authorities never point out the actual market rates but issue valuation certificates at the collectorate rates/ circle rates without correcting the collector rates/circle rates. Concerned officials mostly refrain from updating the data to facilitate the adjustment of black and undeclared money in property transactions," it said.

    This, the bench regretted causes loss to the State exchequer, "which receives lesser registration and other fees; loss to the Income Tax department because the capital gain tax is less; and a fatal blow to the system because it provides a foolproof method to those government employees who are corrupt, to launder their ill-gotten and bribe money; to the criminals who adjust the proceeds of crime and illicit money and also to the others to adjust their undeclared income."

    The Court was hearing an anticipatory bail plea of one Rajesh Kaler, who was Patwari in 2015-16 in Punjab's village Singriwal and allegedly showed inflated rates of land to help the land owners to get higher compensation from Competent Authority for Land Acquisition.

    After hearing the submissions and considering material on record, the Court noted that the market rate at Rs. Five lacs per marla, but he had no occasion to assess that market rate of Rs. Five lakhs without any supportive documents, "which shows that he was in connivance with said Anand Sagar Sharma, the then SDM who intentionally raised it further and assessed the compensation as Rs.6 lakhs per marla."

    Further, the report given by the petitioner did not give corroborative reference to any sale deed or other valuation to conclude that the market rate had increased from the collector rate of Rs.3 lakhs to Rs. 5 lakhs after the notification or the breaking of the news of such an acquisition, the Court added.

    Justice Chitkara opined that some of these revenue officials at once refer to the market rates or even the highly inflated current market rates for assessing the compensation payable for the land acquisition making the infrastructural development extremely expensive, breaching the project's estimated costs, and delaying the execution.

    The Court concluded that the present case establishes the petitioner's malicious intent to benefit the land's owner and certainly in connivance with Anand Sagar Sharma, CALA, who further sanctioned the compensation at Rs.6 lakhs per marla. Due to this nexus, massive revenue loss was caused to the government.

    Stating that given the nature of allegations, custodial interrogation is required, the Court said that, "an analysis of the allegations and evidence collected does not warrant the grant of bail to the petitioner."

    Consequently, the petition was dismissed.

    Harsh Goyal, Advocate for the petitioner.

    A.D.S. Sukhija, Addl. A.G., Punjab.

    Citation: 2024 LiveLaw (PH) 60

    Title: Rajesh Kaler @ Rajesh Kumar v. State of Punjab

    Click here to read/download the order

    Next Story