The West Bengal government has re-amended the Registration Act of 1908. Under the new amendment, Section 30 (2), omitted by the previous amendment, has been partially restored. The Registrar of Assurances, Calcutta can now register any document, referred to under Section 28 of the Registration Act, 1908, of any property situated in any part of West Bengal.
In the earlier amendment, which was given presidential assent on December 10, 1996, Section 30 (2) was completely omitted by the state government. The registrar could not register land outside the original jurisdiction of the Calcutta High Court. The newly amended bill was passed on March 26, 1997 and is currently awaiting the formal nod from the President.
The partial restoration of the section still does not empower the registrar of Calcutta to register land outside West Bengal. However, the registrars of the three other presidency towns can register any document pertaining to property in any part of India. In other words, registration of documents concerning properties situated in West Bengal by the registrars of Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai cannot be checked as the state government has no power to cut the authority of the registrars.
With the earlier amendment, it was estimated that West Bengal would lose Rs 15 crore annually on property registrations, as the Registrar of Assurances, Calcutta collected revenue in the form of stamp duty and registration fees annually by registering documents relating to property in other states.
A spokesman of a noted Calcutta-based solicitors firm said the partial restoration of the section makes the situation only marginally better. "Moreover what was the point of the first amendment if the government was to re-amend it in just 5 months," the spokesman added.
The state government, which was charging an exorbitant 12 per cent as stamp duty on sales deeds, had reduced it to 7 per cent late last year. The duty is still higher than Delhi's 4 per cent. As a result, the government was able to bring down the flight of registrations to Delhi by more than 50 per cent.
"With the flight of registration having gone down, there was no need for either the first or the second amendment, the source said.
The first was a step backwards, the second is just half a step forward," said the source.