Bribery rampant in land registry

Pub: Monday, September 9, 2019 6:06 PM   |   Upd: Wednesday, September 11, 2019 10:08 AM
 
 
 

Sheersha Khobor Dot Com

Service seekers have to pay up to Tk 50 lakh as bribe for registration of land deeds at the sub-registrar and district registrar offices, reveals a study by Transparency International, Bangladesh on corruption in the land registration sector.

The study report was launched at its office in the capital on Monday.

A service seeker has to pay at least Tk 1 thousand as bribe for registration of a deed at any sub-registrar office in the country and the rate increases manifold depending on the nature of the deed registration and the value of the land, the study found.

According to the study, corruption at the sub-registrar and district registrar offices under the law ministry’s Directorate of Registration has been ever increasing as it has taken an institutionalised form through collusion among vested groups comprising root-level employees to top officials, the deed writers’ associations and even politically influential people.

As a result, the study showed, the service seekers need to pay huge amounts of money in bribe while the government receives lower amounts of taxes than the actual from the sector.

‘The level of corruption at the sub-registrar and district registrar offices has gone up compared to our previous [similar] studies in the sector,’ said TIB executive director Iftekharuzzaman at the launching ceremony.

‘Officials and employees of different levels and even local influential people and politicians are part of this corruption,’ he said.

Law minister Anisul Huq refused to comment until he has gone through the study report.

The TIB study, jointly carried out by its researchers Nihar Ranjan Roy and Shammy Laila Islam based on monitoring of 41 sub-registrar and district registrar offices as well as interviews with different stakeholders, revealed that deed writers in association of office staffs, copyists and mohrars (clerks) forced the people coming for land deed registration to pay extra money as bribe showing different causes, including for ‘office maintenance’.

‘We found that service seekers were forced to pay from Tk 1 thousand to Tk 5 lakh for land deed registrations depending on the nature of the deeds and the value of the land ,’ Nihar Ranjan said.

‘At a sub-registrar office near Dhaka, we found that a service seeker paid Tk 50 lakh as bribe for a land registration,’ he said.

For collecting duplicate copies of deeds, service seekers have to pay between Tk 1 thousand and Tk 7 thousand as bribe.

In addition, the study revealed, a service seeker is also required to pay a donation of Tk 500 to Tk 5 thousand to the deed writers’ association concerned for each deed registration.

The association ensures protection for the deed writers from possible actions for extracting bribes, said the study.   

Sharing a case study, Nihar said that a service seeker admitted to him that by paying Tk 5 lakh bribe to officials of a sub-registrar office he succeed in saving Tk 5 lakh while the government received Tk 5 lakh less than the actual registration fee.

‘The actual value of the 5.75 decimals of land that he purchased was Tk 1.50 crore for which he was required to pay Tk 15 lakh. But, paying Tk 5 lakh in bribe to the sub-registrar office he had the land registered by paying only Tk 5 lakh in tax,’ Nihar disclosed.

Corrupt officials, he said, help service seekers pay lower amounts of taxes than the actual by manipulating the nature of land and the deeds during registration.

Sometimes they even help produce forged deeds and rights of records, he said.

The deed writers, on the other hand, have to pay fixed shares of the bribe received to the officials of different tiers.

Sharing another case study about a deed writer, Nihar said that the deed writer admitted to him that he took at least Tk 3 thousand extra from each service seeker for registering a saf qabla dalil (deed for sale).  

Another deed writer told the TIB researchers that they came in contact with brokers even at the directorate of registration, who handed over the share of bribes to high officials.

The TIB research also revealed that copyists had to pay from Tk 20 thousand to Tk 3 lakh for registration and between Tk 2 lakh and Tk 8 lakh for promotion from copyist to clerk.

For promotion of clerk to assistant, a person has to pay between Tk 1 lakh and Tk 3 lakh to high officials.

To obtain a deed writing license, a person has to pay from Tk 1 lakh to Tk 3 lakh as bribe while the person must pay between Tk 2 lakh and Tk 3 lakh for the membership of their association.

The rate varies depending on how influential the people are from whom such a candidate gets recommendations, be it a government official or a politically influential person.

‘Politically backed people also exert influence during registration of deeds by manipulating information,’ the study mentioned.  

A sub-registrar has to pay between Tk 3 lakh and Tk 20 lakh to higher officials for transfer to a place of their choice, the study found.

Following the introduction of appointing sub-registrars through the Public Service Commission, corruption in their recruitment process has declined, according to the study.

The officials and employees in the course of their job extracts bribe from the service seekers many times the money they spend on their appointment and posting, another finding of the study showed.

For reducing corruption in the sector, the study recommended digitisation of the land registration process, better monitoring and making public the income statements of all the officials and employees of the directorate.

It called for strong enforcement of laws and review of the land values set in the Fixation of Lowest Market Price of Property Rules 2010 in line with the actual market price.

The study also recommended reducing the land registration fees in the country, which were the highest among the South Asian countries.

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