In what is bound to spell fresh trouble for Maharashtra Revenue Minister Eknath Khadse, members of his family have been accused of purchasing land well below its market rate.
Khadse is currently in the eye of a storm following allegations that he was in touch with underworld don, Dawood Ibrahim.
According to a report in the Indian Express, the Maharashtra Minister's wife Mandakini and son-in-law, Girish Chaudhari, have been accused of purchasing a three-acre land in Bhosari, near Pune, much below the market price.
The daily claims that according to the documents in its possession, the land was purchased for Rs 3.75 crore on 27 April. But the same records show that only Rs 1.37 crore was paid.
What went wrong?
According to the government's annual statement of lands - used by the administration to determine the true market value - the property rate is Rs 25,630 per sq m.
Khadse's kin paid a stamp duty which works out to be for a transaction amount of Rs 31.01 crore - the market value of the plot.
Going by the sale deed, Khadse's wife and son-in-law bought the property at Rs 1.25 crore per acre or Rs 3,088.81 per sq m - which is almost eight times lower than the price fixed by the government.
What do the Bombay Stamp Rules say?
The Bombay Stamp (Determination of True Market Value of Property) Rules, 1995 states that in case the market value, as stated in the sale deed, is less than the minimum value as prescribed by the annual statement of land, the registering authority must refer the matter to the district collector, who then has to pass an order adjudicating the true market value after recording statements of the parties involved.
The Bombay Stamp Rules, 1995, also states that mis-declaration or non-disclosure of relevant facts and circumstances while executing a deed is an offence that can be penalised.
As per the rules, under a normal deal, a stamp duty of 6% is charged for open land in Maharashtra's urban belt. This amounts to stamp duty of Rs 1.86 crore payable on market value for the land. But registration records do not explain the Rs 49 lakh difference in the amount of stamp duty payable and the actual amount paid.
However, the document was reportedly registered by the Haveli Sub-Registrar Dinkar Lonkar.
According to the registration record, the plot's true market value at Rs 3.75 crore even as it records the minimum rate for the property as Rs 25,630 per sq m.
It is important to mention that the sub-registrar's office functions under the revenue department, which is headed by Khadse.
The Indian Express reported that some officials in the registration department have admitted to there being a loophole in the registration process and that the sub-registrar ought to have referred the matter to the collector.
Eknath Khadse has reportedly said that the stamp duty had been paid for the full market value of the plot. However, he failed to explain why the property had been undervalued.
"This shows that black money was involved in the transaction. The Centre has promised action against those indulging in black money transactions. It must act in this case too," said NCP spokesman Nawab Malik, who demanded a probe by income tax authorities in the case.