MUMBAI: The stamp duty and registration department has introduced rules to curb an alarming rise in fraud by impersonation in property transactions.
The changes, notified by an official circular issued recently, deal with verification of individuals, and include a mandatory declaration of birthmarks and other identification marks.
A person can now testify as a witness for only one document a day. Officials said this was done to rein in agents, who often pose as witnesses without knowing parties involved in a deal. Restrictions have been imposed in cases involving registration of multiple documents at the same time. If an advocate is an identifier, he can stand in as a witness and certify the identities of not more than three persons.
They will be requested to provide details of identification marks on visible areas of their body. “Though optional, it will be in their interests, as at the time of purchase, it can be used to verify the identity,” inspector general of registrations and stamps K Chockalingam said. Mobile phone numbers and email IDs will also be sought.
Spiralling real estate prices have led to an increase in fraudulent transactions, with rising complaints about irregularities in registration of documents, especially by persons posing as property owners. At times, sub-registrars have had to face police and legal action and 11 cases were filed last year against them and identifiers.
The department has been collecting photos and thumb impressions of persons registering documents since 2002. It began verifying the authenticity of witnesses and appending their identity papers to documents to be registered in 2007. Photographs and thumb impressions of identifiers are being taken since last year.
The department has already made videography of the process mandatory when registrations are done through home visits. Details of transactions by both parties in the past 10 years, involving property transfer, must be disclosed. They will have to provide the number of registration of such transactions, and other details like photographs, including the date and office of registration. This will also be used to verify their identities.