MUMBAI: Seeking the copy of a property registration card (PRC) at the land records office can prove to be a costly affair. A PRC is a land record which provides the complete history of past owners as well as current owners. It is an invaluable document for land-owners to prove ownership. With the Right to Information Act, 2005, any citizen can seek the PRC of any plot. It is here that the catch lies.
The applicant is asked to pay the land revenue dues if any. And if the applicant refuses on the grounds that he/she is not the land-owner, then the department offers to give the copy of the PRC signed by the assistant superintendent of land records. This document is not considered authentic. Department sources said the novel method was introduced in January this year to recover land taxes. “Often it is the property owner or his legal heirs who ask for a copy of the PRC. So they are asked to pay the dues,” said a source.
Sanjay Dhikle, chief superintendent of land records said that the system has been there for the last several years.
Dhikle said the reason for asking the payment be made against the copy of the PRC was that the document is necessary for building plan approvals. “Often the BMC grants approval unaware that the dues are pending. In case property is to be transferred, we ensure that all dues are paid before the land is transferred,” he said.
“We do ask the applicant to pay the pending dues but do not insist upon it if the person refuses to pay. Instead the officials have been directed to stamp the PRC saying dues pending. I shall reiterate it to the department,” he said.
Advocate S N Shroff, an expert on property matters, said such situations would not arise if departments were to speak to each other. “BMC should do some due diligence and ask if dues have been paid. An applicant is merely seeking information and cannot be penalized for the same,” he said.