The Rajya Sabha on Wednesday passed the NCT of Delhi (Recognition of Property Rights of Residents in Unauthorised Colonies) Bill, 2019, by voice vote.
The Bill introduced by Union Housing and Urban Affairs Minister Hardeep Singh Puri seeks to provide a framework to recognize the property rights of persons living in unauthorized colonies in Delhi; by granting rights of ownership or transfer or mortgage on the basis of Power of Attorney, Agreement to Sale, Will, possession letter or any other document evidencing payment of consideration. It was passed by the Lok Sabha on November 28.
Considerably, the Bill has an overriding effect on the Supreme Court's judgment in Suraj Lamp & Industries (P) Ltd. v. State Of Haryana & Anr, (2012) 1 SCC 656, which unequivocally held that power of attorney transactions are not `transfers' or `sales' and thus cannot be treated as completed transfers or conveyances.
The Statement of Objects and Reasons annexed to the Bill reads as under,
"In view of the socio-economic conditions of the residents of the unauthorised colonies and ground realities, it is desirable to recognise and confer rights of ownership or transfer or mortgage to the residents of such colonies on the basis of Power of Attorney, Agreement to Sale, Will, possession letter and other documents including documents evidencing payment of consideration and to facilitate development or re-development that may improve existing infrastructure, civic and social amenities which may lead to better quality of life."
The benefits under the Bill will extend to 1731 unauthorized colonies, as identified by Delhi Development Authority, spread over 175 square-km, mostly occupied by poor migrants from different states.
While introducing the Bill, Puri said that Delhi's expected population was approximately 2 crore and thus the Bill was crucial for those living in unauthorized colonies. He informed that the government was in the process of uploading digital maps of all colonies on its official portal and that DDA's portal for registration of persons concerned would be ready by December 16.
Supporting the Bill, BJD MP Amar Patnaik said that the move to charge nominal registration charges will act in favour of the unprivileged sections of Delhi. He told that a similar move was made by the Orissa government in 2018, where joint ownership rights were conferred on husbands and wives.
BJP's Vijay Goel informed the house that the Registration charges were fixed at Rs. 1250 only. The Bill is crucial to avoid challenge to title of ownership in courts and to facilitate loans for construction, he added.
Concerns were raised by certain members that passing the Bill wouldn't solve the root problem of population explosion in Delhi. In this behalf NCP MP Kumari Selja said that the main reason for unauthorized settlements in Delhi was large number of citizens migrating, certainly in pursuit of better opportunities. She said that the government should plan for the welfare of migrants in advance, to prevent them from cramming in slums.
Supporting this view, Congress MP Dr. L. Hanumanthaia said the government should instead concentrate on providing shelter and employment in rural areas to prevent them from migrating.
TMC MP Dola Sen questioned the government why had it sealed its lips on the legal status of Sainik Farms; a posh area in Delhi that has been in controversy for allegedly being an unauthorized colony.
Recognition of property rights: The Bill provides that the Central Government may recognize the property rights of persons living in unauthorized colonies in Delhi; by granting rights of ownership or transfer or mortgage on the basis of Power of Attorney, Agreement to Sale, Will, possession letter or any other document evidencing payment of consideration.
The corresponding provision operates notwithstanding anything contained in the Indian Stamp Act, 1899, the Registration Act, 1908, the Income-tax Act, 1961 and the judgment of the Supreme Court in the Suraj Lamp case.
Resident: The Bill defines a resident as a person with physical possession of property on the basis of a registered sale deed or other documents as mentioned above. It also recognizes the rights of legal heirs of residents but does not include any tenant, licensee, etc.
Unauthorized colony: The Bill will be applicable to only those unauthorized colonies that have been notified for regularization by DDA.
Payment of charges: The residents will be required to pay (nominal) charges notified by the central government, along with Stamp duty and registration charges on the last transaction, to obtain ownership.
The Bill will now be placed before the President for his assent.
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