Government passes bill to regularise Delhi's 1,731 unauthorised colonies

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A Bill to regularize Delhi's 1,731 unauthorised colonies was passed in the Lok Sabha on Thursday with voice vote to benefit over 40 lakh residents who have been residing in such colonies for years, a move termed by the Opposition a "vote bank" politics.

In his concluding reply over the National Capital Territory of Delhi (Recognition of Public Rights of Residents in Unauthorised Colonies) Bill, 2019, Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said the Centre government is committed to "end the injustice which has been going on".

Calling the move a "revolutionary step", Puri said the work which was not done in the last 11 years, the government will complete it in 30 days.

He said the government is ready to discuss and solve the issue if anything is left in scheme to resolve the problem.

Rejecting allegations of Opposition, the Minister said the move is not "poll-sighted" and that the Centre took the decision to regularise the unauthorised colonies in September 2017 after Aam Aadmi Party-led government in Delhi, through an affidavit, informed the Delhi High Court that it needs two years to solve the problem.

He also mentioned that a digital mapping of 1,731 such colonies is being done through satellite imagery and the work will be uploaded by December 31 at a newly-created portal. "A physical mapping will also be done".

The Minister said the mapping process of over 600 such colonies has been completed.

AAP MP Bhagwant Mann, however, left the House before the Bill was passed, a move criticised by Manoj Tiwari, MP and Delhi BJP chief, saying that Mann's stepping out showed how serious his party is about the welfare of the people living in such colonies.

The Bill, which was introduced on Tuesday, will provide special provision for the national capital by recognising the property rights of ownership or transfer or mortgage in favour of residents of such colonies who are possessing properties on the basis of power of attorney, agreement to sale, will, possession letter, or any other documents, including documents evidencing payment of consideration.

The Bill seeks to levy stamp duty and registration charges on the amount mentioned in the conveyance deed or authorisation slip issued by the Delhi Development Authority and non-payment of any stamp duty and registration charges on any previous sale transactions made prior to the last transaction.

Various opposition parties criticised the Centre of ignoring the issue for the last five years and showing its eagerness to resolve the problem when Assembly elections in the Union Territory are announced.

Noting that unauthorised colony issue is going on for long, DMK's Dayanidhi Maran said: "I came to Delhi in 2004 and since then the issue of such colonies has been coming up. But the hard work of (former Chief Minister) Sheila Dikshit can never be forgotten.

"It is not the Congress, nor the BJP, nor AAP, it is the elections. The moment the elections are announced, the magic happens. In 2015, the Central government wanted to regularise these colonies. Why did it take such a long time?

"I expect this regularisation scheme to be honest. Please do not take political mileage. Do it wholeheartedly," Maran said.

Revolutionary Socialist Party's N. K. Premchandran said there are so many provisions missing in the Bill.

Congress' Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said he was not against the Bill, but said that "it is apprehension of the people that the whole process is being done in view of upcoming Assembly elections in Delhi. "I want to say that what has been promised by the government should be fulfilled."

Currently, the properties in the unauthorised colonies are not registered by any authority, so, the residents do not have any title documents of such properties. The ownership of the properties in unauthorised colonies has been transferred several times on the basis of registered or unregistered or notarised power of attorney, agreement to sale, will, possession letter and other documents.

The Supreme Court in its judgment on October 11, 2011 had held that sale agreement or General Power of Attorney or will transactions are not "transfers" or "sales" and that such transactions cannot be treated as completed transfers or conveyances and they can continue to be treated as existing agreement of sale.
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