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Agricultural land cannot be directly put to use for residential purpose. It needs to be converted by paying conversion charges. The Special Deputy Commissioner is the competent authority to grant permission for conversion of agricultural land for non-agricultural purpose.

Revenue site is one that is situated in the layout formed on the agricultural land for a non-agricultural purpose without proper approval under the relevant law i.e., Karnataka Land Reforms Act, Karnataka Land Revenue Rules and other provisions of law.

No building can be constructed on agricultural land without obtaining conversion orders, layout and building plan approvals from the concerned authorities. Residential layouts can be formed only in the residentially converted land, such a land should be in the residential zone as per the zonal regulations for getting the conversion for residential purpose. The Village Panchayath is not the competent authority to approve the layout plans.

Zonal Regulations:

As per zonal regulations of the comprehensive development plan, green belt area is meant only for agricultural activities. Non converted land continues to be agricultural land and there are various restrictions on sale and purchase of agricultural land. In Bangalore Urban Agglomeration, Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) is the competent authority to approve layouts and to get this approval road width, residential area, civic and other amenities are to be provided as per law. The Bangalore Metropolitan Regional Development Authority (BMRDA) is the regulating authority to approve layouts on the outskirts of the Bangalore.

All around Bangalore, it is a very common practice for people to buy a piece of agricultural land, which is more popularly known as revenue site, without being aware of the hassles involved in buying such sites. Sites such as those formed in the agricultural land without getting the layout approved by the competent authority are generally referred to as "Revenue Sites". Small time promoters misguide the buyers and motivate them to buy the revenue sites even by concealing the vital defects and flaws in the title of the owner. In addition, there are several instances wherein the land would have been notified for acquisition by certain statutory authority or even the land on which sites are formed may be grant land for schedule caste or schedule tribe people wherein obtaining prior approval of the competent authority for change of land use and for sale is necessary. Ultimately, it is the innocent purchaser who faces the legal battle after purchase of revenue sites.

Middlemen rule

Generally, a nominal sum is paid by the Small Time Promoter as a token advance to the landlord and a general power of attorney is obtained; and thereafter, search for the innocent purchasers begins. The middle men, like double edged razors, hike the price of the land and at the same time, do not properly settle the accounts with the illiterate and ignorant land owners.

These Small Time Promoters form layouts on agricultural lands without approval of the layout from the competent authority. To increase the saleable area of the sites, they provide narrow roads. These layouts generally do not have civic amenities and other facilities, since the promoters generally do not have any intention of providing them.

Marketing Strategy:

The Small Time Promoters know the art of marketing. They make colorful brochures with photographs of certain parts of Bangalore and paint an attractive picture to attract the people to buy sites in these layouts. Some of them even download foreign photographs of houses from internet for their brochures. Better the presentation, deeper the deceit, which very few people understand. After the Small Time Promoter has got his money, the purchaser will have the bitter experience.

These promoters/agents in league with brokers will register some imaginary sites at the sub-registrars office using their clout. There are many instances where the lands bearing Khaneshumari number without any link to the old survey number are being registered in the Sub-Registrars office by the Owners in connivance with the Brokers either by creating or manipulating the existing documents since it is not the duty of the Sub-Registrar to verify the legality of the documents.

Ancestral Property

In the recital of a sale deed, it is customary to mention how the seller has acquired his title, interests and rights to the immovable property from origin to the end. In the case of revenue sites, the brokers at the office of various sub-registrars have devised a very ingenious method to hide out this fact. They merely mention in the recital that the property is the ancestral property of the seller. In this way, the brokers pass on the defective title of the property to the innocent purchasers.

There are several instances where the land notified for acquisition and the land granted for schedule caste people have been made into sites, where the purchaser of such a site would not get title of the property.

GPA transaction

Generally, brokers will take GPA from the landowner for the entire land. Most of the revenue sites are registered on the strength of GPA. Only a very few people take care to check up the legality of the GPA executed by the original vendor. Nobody bothers to find out whether the GPA is registered or not, and whether the executor of the GPA is alive or not.

If the executor of the GPA is not alive the GPA transaction is totally invalid. A Joint GPA executed by two or more owners would become invalid if any one of them dies.

Form 9 and 10

Originally, property falling under the village Panchayath area alone has the genuine site status. Form No.10 is for a house situated within Gramathana area and Form No.9 is for a vacant site situated within Gramathana area. Middlemen and some revenue officials make bogus Forms No.9 and 10 and register immoveable properties in favour of innocent purchasers.

When the Urban Land Ceiling Act was in force, thousands of revenue sites were registered by merely mentioning in the sale deed the description as one square asbestos sheet house. This was mentioned just to avoid getting the relevant clearance under the said Act. After the Urban Land Ceiling Act was abolished the term one square asbestos sheet house was also removed from the real estate agents dictionary.

It is not legal to form layouts and sell sites in the agricultural land/green belt area, even after selling all the sites; RTC (Record of Rights, Tenancy and Crop Inspection) will be in name of the original landowner.

The Agent being a GPA holder will sell the sites, as ancestral properties to the innocent purchaser. The numbers assigned to these sites will never match with the survey numbers assigned to these lands by the government. The purchaser of the revenue site does not get the title of the property. What is purchased is an imaginary site only. If, however, the original owner is good then the purchaser can enjoy the property, till the government regularizes such revenue sites.

Loan clearance

If the title deeds are not clear and does not establish marketable title, it is difficult to obtain bank loans for construction by mortgaging these sites. Generally, these sites are situated on the city outskirts. There will be no proper roads, electricity or water supply. There is no scope for immediate development of the locality. With all this, if the prices of the sites appreciate over a period of years, the original landowner will appear from nowhere and start cultivating the area.

He will remove all the boundary stones laid by the broker/small time promoter making it difficult for the purchaser to identify his property. In certain cases the GPA holder sells the same site to several persons and collects money from all of them. Consequently, marathon litigation awaits the purchaser. The laws are so complex that they give rise to multiple interpretations.

In recent times, litigations pertaining to property transactions are increasing. Common problems involved are that the property might have been sold by one of the Co-owners without arraying the other Co-owners as parties to the sale. After the death of the person who sold the property, his Legal heirs/representatives and the surviving co-owners with an intention to take advantage of the rising prices for their property may approach courts with suits.

The buyers may, therefore, consult a legal expert in property matters before investing their hard earned money.