Property disputes: HC ruling puts spotlight on simplifying procedures - The Tribune India

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Property disputes

HC ruling puts spotlight on simplifying procedures

Property disputes

Punjab and Haryana High Court. File photo

The Punjab and Haryana High Court judgment that there is no requirement for a sale deed to be attested by two ‘attesting witnesses’ throws light on bringing clarity and simplifying aspects of adjudication of property ownership disputes, reducing unnecessary litigation delays in the process. The Bench’s direction, while ruling on an appeal, that placing on record the original sale deed in the court file is not required came as another instruction for the lower courts not to prolong cases, and work towards mitigating the inconvenience the parties involved have to endure. According to estimates, 66 per cent of all civil cases in India are related to land or property disputes, while 25 per cent of all cases decided by the Supreme Court involve land disputes. The average pendency of a land acquisition dispute is 20 years.

Looking at the numbers, working on solutions — administrative, legislative and judicial — to deal with both the incidence of land conflict and pendency of cases is central to any change in a scenario where, for instance, competing policies provide for eviction and regularisation of unauthorised occupants at the same time. Transparent land administration can result in fundamental transformation, with a focus on using new technology for land surveys and updating records. It is also imperative to sort out the low judge-to-people ratio and enhance the capacity to gauge the enforcement, along with relooking at laws that are in conflict with administrative decisions.

As undeclared cash forms a large chunk of real estate dealings, a liberal dose of corruption is entrenched in them. A majority of buyers and sellers have little choice but to toe the line dictated by the property dealer, who relies on the officials, for a hassle-free ride which if one were to insist on a completely clean transaction, at the market value, could involve stumbling blocks at various levels. The encouragement to evasion of stamp duty is a reflection of the patronage it enjoys, when a step like reducing it significantly could pave the way for cent per cent legal transactions.

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