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Land related crime moving towards the suburbs
Source : The Hindu Property Plus Published On : 2008-01-05 City : Chennai

Thorough scrutiny of the documents and title deeds would save the purchaser from the designs of law offenders, writes L. SRIKRISHNA

 

A glance at the number of complaints received by the police during 2007 gives an impression that the land related crime has now moved more towards the suburbs. Next to Chennai, Kancheepuram district is the main target for land grabbers, police say. The Deputy Inspector General of Police (Kancheepuram range) Shakeel Akther said that they received a little over 200 petitions from the public in connection with land transaction cases in 2007.

     Speaking to The Hindu Property Plus, he said that though there are several factors for land grabbing and unauthorised encroachments, the main reason is attributed to the manifold increase of the real estate value in the suburbs. In October 2007, police arrested a man on charges of forgery in connection with a land transaction case involving government property. Investigations in the case revealed that the accused had clandestinely registered about 11.50 acres of vacant site belonging to the government in his name by fabricating bogus sale agreements and general power of attorney by mentioning the survey number and other details. He had planned to sell it to several private buyers for a hefty price in a phased manner.

     The fraud came to light when the Tahsildar filed a complaint. The police arrested the accused and also took steps to nullify the registration made by him with the local sub-registrar office, he added.

     A close vigil over the property by the respective owners would save from land grabbers through fraudulent means. Apart from this, Mr. Akther said whenever a buyer purchased a property, thorough examination of the title deeds and other relevant documents would not only ensure them from falling prey to the designs of law offenders, but also prevent them from parting with the money in a hurried manner. A personal check of the genuineness of the documents with the respective sub-registrar’s office would be appreciated, he added. Police officers also feel that wherever the transaction between the buyer and seller had been swiftly carried out including the process of registration, there were no complaints of fraud or cheating.

 

Power of Attorney

 

     In another case, the police found that a person had indulged in forgery of a general power of attorney for a property measuring about five acres and planned to sell. It was found during inquiry that the accused had committed the crime in connivance with the staff at the sub-registrar’s office. The District Crime Branch (DCB) police arrested the accused and ensured that the property remained with the genuine owner.

     A study of the complaints gives an impression that the offenders mostly indulged in two to three types of frauds.

     First, they fabricate documents and claim right over a property by falsely possessing a general power of attorney.

     Second, the modus operandi is to offer a token advance to the seller of the property and enter into a memorandum of understanding. However, the buyer would transfer the agreement to an other person for a price which included his profit. This leads to more than one person claiming right over the property after sometime. When, the matter comes to the police, they would refer the case to the revenue authorities seeking statement on the legal owner as per the government records and act.

     Third, the accused committed the crime in connivance with some staff in the sub-registrar office and indulged in land grabbing, Mr. Shakeel Akther said.

     An officer at district Crime Bureau said that recently a 75-year-old woman from Chennai submitted a petition seeking police intervention to retrieve the land given to the husband who was a freedom fighter. When she had planned to register the land in her name after the demise of her husband, she was shocked to learn that the property had been already ‘sold’ according to the records available with the Sub-Registrar Office. Investigations revealed that a man and a woman claiming to be the heirs of the freedom fighter couple submitted a fake legal heir certificate and death certificate copies of their parents and registered the property in their names. Subsequently, the ‘son’ and ‘daughter’ gave a general power of attorney to another person who sold the property to different persons for hefty price. After registering a case, police found that some staff in the sub-registrar office had connived in the transactions. The case is under investigation, the officer added.

 

Land grabbers

 

     The land prices in the suburbs have steadily increased in this region and the land frauds are in the rise.

     Chennai Police had detained six persons under the Land Grabbers Act last year. The Kancheepuram police are also examining the possibility of imposing stringent punishment to the law offenders, a senior officer at the DCB said. Madras High Court advocate Abudu Kumar Rajarathnam said that in view of the increasing number of cases involving property disputes reported with the police, it is desirable with all registering officers are computerised. This would prevent any sort of tampering or alteration. Moreover, it would also prevent the law offenders if the government established exclusive investigations teams to verify and authenticate the genuineness of documents before registration as it would detect any fraud at earliest stage possible. For this purpose, the services of retired police officers and revenue officials who have the adequate expertise can be utilized which will put an end to the menace.

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