New Delhi: Difference in real value of land and circle rates in the national capital is not only facilitating black money inflow in the property market but also causing revenue loss to the exchequer, the Central Information Commission has said.
It has also directed the Chief Secretary to review the policy and carry out an inquiry.
Using its powers under the RTI Act, Information Commissioner Sridhar Acharyulu directed the Chief Secretary to have "serious look" at the policy of circle rates and put them on the website.
Expressing concerns over impact of poor land valuation on the RTI Act, Acharyulu said, "The Commission finds in many cases before it that several public authorities are escaping accountability under RTI by showing value of the land given to them by the government as 'commercial value' which is an open lie as every one knows the real value would be thousand times more than what it was shown to be."
He said several hospitals, sports clubs, cricket associations are claiming that the land was given to them at commercial rate, simply because the state does not have any document to say that they have properly assessed the value of the land in a particular area.
"Because of this every selfish person or profit motivated corporate body is trying to take prime government land using the corruption as an easy tool and making huge profits at the cost of public exchequer and imposing burden on common consumers," he said in the order.
The observations of the Commission came on a plea of an activist S P Manchanda who had given detailed description to Delhi government on the loopholes in the process to determine rates of land in various circles resulting in revenue loss.
Acharyulu said all this is facilitated by the absence of "minimum governance" at the higher level where the powers that be prefer to relax and refuse to decide what is the value of the land.
Commenting on the verdict, RTI activist Subhash Agrawal, who is fighting for BCCI to be declared a public authority, said, "Huge Firoz Shah Kotla Stadium at capital's one of the most prime locations at Bahadurshah Zafar Marg has been given an exclusive circle-rate that too in a much lower 'C' category with just rupees 1,59,840 per square meter, rather than its being categorised in 'A' category with circle-rate of rupees 7,75,000 per sq m."
In his submission to Delhi Government in 2013, Manchanda had claimed that the circle rates have been wrongfully kept uniform all over the national capital which is resulting in serious revenue loss to the exchequer.
"Kesav Puram, market rate of an MIG flat is Rs 1.4 crore whereas the stamp duty collected on the basis of circle rate which is Rs 40 lakh thereby stamp duty on the value of Rs one crore is lost. Similarly in Narela, the value of flat is 15 lakh but the circle rate is as high as Rs 37 lakh on which the stamp duty is collected hence there are no buyers of the flats in that area," Manchanda had claimed giving an example.
He approached the Delhi Government seeking to know action taken on his suggestion but not getting satisfactory response he approached the Central Information Commission.
During the hearing, the Delhi Government representative accepted the anomaly and said a new section has been inserted in the Indian Stamps Act as a corrective measure.
Lauding Manchanda's efforts, Acharyulu termed the RTI application as "one of the best" in the interest of fulfilling the objectives of the Right to Information Act.
"A simple and ordinary person, Mr S P Manchanda is in fact, not seeking any information from the public authority but making a very constructive suggestion after pointing out how much of revenue the Government was loosing every day because of the indifference and delay in developing a rational valuation of land policy," he said.