Hard to differentiate between officers and touts at Bengaluru sub-registrar offices: Lokayukta report

Irregularities at sub-registration offices in Bengaluru were exposed by Lokayukta Tuesday after a report it prepared that said it was difficult to distinguish between officers and guides in these offices.

After multiple complaints from citizens, Lokayukta registered a case and formed teams to conduct a study for the Bengaluru Sub-Registry Offices. Ten teams were formed, each consisting of a judicial officer, a deputy chief of police, and two or three police inspectors. The teams visited 43 offices of sub-registers located in different parts of the Bengaluru metropolitan area.

In most of the subsidiary registry offices, agents or brokers and philatelic sellers were seen moving around the office collecting stamp and registration fees and scanning copies. Lokayukta teams noted that the fees were more than the specified amounts.

It was also found that the PAN numbers of those who registered their property were intentionally not mentioned in the registration summaries in order to help them evade paying income tax.

Lokayukta’s report further said, “It was difficult to differentiate between officials and promoters because the promoters were acting as officials to carry out the function.” In some offices, guides are found sitting inside the sub-registrar’s room and working. Private bond clerks and stamp sellers were also seen in the office working as intermediaries.

In some offices, Group D employees were not in uniform, and some employees were found not signing attendance records. It was also found that CCTV cameras did not work in some subsidiary registry offices.

At Banashankari Sub-Registrar Office, a person named Bharat was waiting with his physically disabled mother from 9:30 am to register a site. He said the computer operator Ramalinga asked him to wait and said he would only take their files when eight files arrived on his table. “Therefore, it is only when the agents come with the files that the registration process takes place,” the report said.

“It is impossible to believe that such intermediaries or mentors could operate from office premises without the complicity of the relevant sub-registrants and other personnel working in the sub-registered office. Therefore, strict action must be taken against those officers who colluded with the promoters to harass the public for extraneous considerations,” said the report.

It also states that there is a lack of supervision and inspection by senior officers over the jobs of sub-registers. Judge B.S. Patil, Chief Lokayukta of Bengaluru, issued notices to all subsidiary registry offices visited by Lokayukta teams, Inspector General of Registration, Stamp Commissioner and other senior officials to respond by 6 September.

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