This article is written by team LawSikho.
How is property as a subject matter covered under the RTI Act?
The real estate sector is plagued with instances ranging from anomalies in the registration of the project to circulation of unaccounted money. The real estate market is becoming a pro buyer market with the advent of Acts like RERA 2016.
The compliances under the act are directed to bring out transparency in the manner in which promoters/builders operate in the real estate ecosystem. Buyers/consumers must also be aware of using RTI in property matters to safeguard themselves from any form of malpractices and corruption in the real estate industry.
How are property matters covered under RTI?
The RTI Act covers ‘any public authority’ except national security authorities for seeking information. Therefore, an RTI application can be filed with regard to all matters except in cases involving national sovereignty. Seeking shelter in any form is a fundamental need in society. Property matters and disputes are the most commonly dealt with by people on a regular basis.
How RTI comes into the picture
The democratic ideal of citizen sovereignty is reflected by the enactment of the Right to Information Act.
Suppose you buy a plot in a registered township. The end use is mentioned as ‘residential’ in the land registry deed. However, your investment in the plot of land is not yielding the expected rate of return prevailing in the industry because there is some confusion regarding permissions or some such other complications.
Lack of appropriate permission like non-clearance of the map, no permission for diversion from the town and planning department, changes in zoning, embargo in new constructions in a certain area can cause erosion of investment value. Most of the time, correct information is not easily accessible to most landowners or prospective buyers. What if the land belongs to the green zone but wrongly mentioned in the registry as residential? Such mysteries can be resolved by using RTI.
Land records are generally maintained by collectorate/municipality for the city area or by gram panchayat for the adjoining tehsils and villages. Filing an RTI can help in uncovering critical information related to your property that may be very hard to get otherwise.
Circumstances warranting the use of RTI
- RTI is a powerful tool when corrupt or inefficient officials deny your legal rights or delay important government services that you may need at a revenue office, land record office or sub-registry.
- It can be resorted to know the reasons for the delay in processing your file and delay in addressing the grievance.
- It can help in verification, diligence and collating useful information about the property which can prove useful in negotiating a property deal in your favor.
- It can also be used as a tool to uncover information post the deal if there is any indication that the builder/seller might have hidden material facts during negotiation which could have substantially affected the buying of the property. for eg: any pending litigation, encumbrance etc over the property.
In such above-mentioned circumstances, An RTI application can be filled with the land records office in the Collectorate or the municipality as the case may be.
Filing an RTI application
An RTI application can be filled u/s 2(f) of the RTI Act against any public authority to obtain the required information and relevant documentation.
The application must mention the following basic details:
- The name of the relevant public authority from whom the information is sought.
- It must also specify the location and details of the property/land.
- Location of the property is important as it helps in determining the district under which the property falls.
Table for making an RTI application in property matters in Mumbai
|Situations||Examples of Nature of disputes||Competent Authority for filing the first complaint||Procedure|
|Co-operative Housing Society||-transfer and transmission of rights between members.
-the irregular charge of maintenance and other fees
|District deputy registrar of societies||A complaint is required to be registered with the district deputy registrar.
The district deputy registrar is stipulated to give a reply within 30 days of filing the complaint.
However, it is in your best interest to draft a reminder letter in the intermittent 30 day period once to reflect active follow up. It will help in making your case stronger at the redressal stage.
an RTI application can be filed with the information officer in case no response or inadequate response to your query after 30 days of lodging the initial complaint with the deputy registrar.
Further, an appeal can be preferred with the first appellate officer if the concerned information officer does not respond to the query within 30 days of filling the application.
A second appeal can also be preferred if in case the reply given by First appellate officer is inadequate or no response is received from him.
The waiting time is 45 days after making an appeal to the first appellate officer.
The Waiting time is minimal of two months when an appeal is preferred to the Second Appellate officer.
|Under construction buildings||Nature of Agreement between a landowner and builder may differ. There may be issues with the joint development agreement, sale deed or lease dead depending upon the nature of the transaction.
lack of approvals from the municipal corporation.
Examples of Approvals and clearances
Approval of building plan. clearances like environmental clearance, NOC from the aviation department in case of tall buildings.
|MahaRera in case of Maharashtra and state wise regulatory (RERA) authority||Make a complaint to the concerned officer
File a reminder Application
File an RTI application after 30 DAYS of non-receipt of reply to the original application form seeking a delay of reply
arbitrary tender process,
lack of uniformity in joint development agreements,
What if members of society are not made aware of the redevelopment procedure?
In many cases, the members of society choose an architect or project consultant without any proper standard criteria.
|1.Deputy Registrar of Co-operative Societies- contravention of the guidelines under Bye-law 175 of the New Bye-laws 2014
2.Municipal Commissioner- building plan and its legality issues.
3.Cooperative society for non-registration of Redevelopment Agreement with SRA & not doing individual original flat holders’ “Deed of Alternate and Permanent Accommodation” with SRA by the builder
4.MahaRERA, for not registering the redeveloping building project with it.
5. With CS (Enforcement), – not registering of the deeds as stated in (3) and for not taking the cognizance of complaint by CS.)
|Deemed Conveyancing||An order is issued by the competent authority deeming the transfer of property in the case where the property a is not conveyed within 4 months of issuance of an occupancy certificate||Adjudication to execute the said order will be done by the collector of stamps while the registration of the property conveyed is done by sub-registrar of assurances.||The competent authority for filing an RTI is deputy chief engineer of respective building proposal departments of Bombay Municipal Corporation.|
To conclude, it is imperative to note that RTI is not a redressal mechanism.
- It is a mechanism to assist in obtaining the necessary Information which can prove beneficial in making your case stronger in redressal proceedings.
- It helps in identifying the reasons owing to which work is not done.
- Simultaneously the applicant must be aware of the Adjudicating mechanisms available to him like LokShahi Adalats, Cooperative courts, litigation etc to make a substantial case for himself with the useful information received by him.