In the latest pilfering scheme of government officials, several government properties have been registered and transferred without any titled documents, The Express Tribune has learnt. The illegal transfer of these properties has dealt yet another blow to the provincial exchequer.
According to sources, officials of the revenue department's registrar office are executing leases, sub-leases and transferring properties without any legal documentation. This is a gross violation of the registration act.
"The disputed land, which is owned by the Sindh government, has recently been given to the Defence Housing Authority (DHA) in Phase VIII and the Karachi Port Trust on Mai Kolachi Road," said an official of the revenue department, on the condition of anonymity. He added that, some time ago, the officials had transferred the ownership rights of a building that was confiscated by the anti-narcotics department, after its owner was found to be involved in the drugs business.
This was not the only allegation against the officials in the registrar office. Citizens have often complained about being compelled to pay heavy amounts in bribes to register their properties.
Recently, district South deputy commissioner Jamal Mustafa Kazi, who paid a surprise visit to the office of the sub-registrar of his district, was barred from entering the office premises.
Subsequently, Kazi directed to stop all transactions and sought details of all properties registered in July, this year. "I had gone to the sub-registrar's office following a number of complaints that suggested that sub judice properties were also being allotted," he told The Express Tribune. "But the officials present at the office did not let me check the records even though I am entitled to do so."
Kazi explained that, in the case of a sub judice property, the registrar's office did not have the authority to allot or issue lease orders for the property until the final verdict was announced by the respective court. According to him, the officials were bound to verify the property's status from the office of the relevant deputy commissioner before they registered it. The deputy-commissioner referred to sub-section 5 of Section 21 of The Registration (Sindh Amendment) Act, 2013, which reads: "No non-testamentary document relating to properties shall be registered without a copy of the record of rights including computerised record, duly certified by the concerned Mukhtiarkar and verified by the assistant collector of the area."
Kazi said that the revenue secretary had directed to ensure strict compliance of the registration act, but the officials employed in the registrar offices were deliberately avoiding it. "I have given them three days to produce the record, otherwise I will refer the cases to anti-corruption department for inquiry and necessary action," he said.
Despite repeated attempts, contact with sub-registrar of district South could not be established. Meanwhile, Revenue Minister Makhdoom Jameeluz Zaman told The Express Tribune that in the wake of the apex court's orders, the department had strictly ordered to follow the rules when executing the leases and transfer of lands. He added, however, that some black sheep in the department were involved in illegal transactions. "We will ask senior members of the board of revenue to investigate the matter," he said adding that the land utilisation department falls in the domain of the chief minister who would also be briefed about this gross violation.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 28th, 2014.
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