In Hongasandra and Singasandra villages of Bommanahalli, primarily agricultural land belts, you will not find a single

piece of land that has been transacted legally.

Hamlets around Bangalore stretching over 1,000 acres to 1,500 acres have not been converted from agriculture to non-agricultural purpose, but have been sold and developed haphazardly. Worse, survey numbers of large tracts of lands are missing though they have been registered.

The Lok Ayukta probe into irregularities in the registration of revenue properties in and around Bangalore has put 27 sub-registrars in the dock. The investigation revealed that discrepancies are not confined to Hongasandra and Singasandra alone -- nearly 1,000 villages have registered illegal property transactions.

Following a confidential report by the then Inspector General of Stamps and Registration department H Shashidhar, who recommended a probe into the irregularities and action against sub-registrars, the case was handed over to the Lok Ayukta in May 2008.

The probe, conducted by a one-man committee comprising retired special deputy commissioner Somashekar, looked into 1 lakh documents (property registrations) over nine months -- between April and December 2007. It found that over 60,000 transactions were unauthorized. The report will be submitted to the government by this month-end.

In the hamlets added to Greater Bangalore, an acre has been split into guntas and registered as tiny plots. If 1 acre is split into 40 transactions, then the purpose is meant to be residential. This without land conversion.

"In several villages, the entire tract of agricultural land has been sold without conversion and registered. There is no approval from the planning authorities for the development. Even if the government decides to regularize revenue land, who will set things right? The damage has been done,'' Lok Ayukta Justice N Santosh Hegde told TOI.

However, there is a hitch in framing charges against the sub-registrars. While the Karnataka Land Revenue Act restricts officials from registering revenue properties, the Registration Act does not have any such riders -- sub-registrars are bound to register any document and need not verify the credentials.

"There is some ambiguity between the two Acts -- the Land Revenue Act and Registration Act. The rules are not complementary to each other. We are analyzing whether or not to frame charges against the sub-registrars. As per one Act, the sub-registrars have committed a violation. But the other Act does not put the officials in the dock,'' Justice Hegde added.

Source:Times of India 25th Jan, 2009