In our common psyche, owning a piece of land is important. But while buying a land we cannot fully determine what is right or wrong, and sometimes become victims of deception. Additionally, documents pertaining to land property are sometimes forged and unreliable. The risk is very high in respect of lands in suburbs or neighbourhoods of big cities. If a person while buying a property is not careful enough, he might face problems, including litigation regarding ownership of the property at a later stage.
However, checking accurate ownership of property in Bangladesh is an arduous task. Recently, in order to lessen the complex process of verification, the government has introduced Digital Land Management System (DLMS) through which the land areas of the country can be managed digitally with the help of modern technology. The key features of DLMS include GPS based land surveying, automatic map drawing and online land management. However, the prevalent system has yet not been abolished. For this reason, this write-up will attempt to shed some light on precautions the buyers need to take at the time of land purchase.
All relevant information related to the property should be collected, particularly the plot (dag) number, khatian number, present possessor, holding address etc. The first and foremost thing, while verifying property documents, is to check the genuineness of the title deed. This can be done by conducting a search in the relevant Sub-registry office. All registered deeds are recorded in the Sub-registry office with which these are registered. It is also possible to obtain a certified copy of the deed by paying a small government fee. In case of property owned through inheritance, deed of the predecessor and Partition Deed (Bontonnama, if any) should be checked.
It is also advisable to search the records of previous years (for at least 10 years) in the Sub-registry office. If the ownership of the property is transferred or mortgaged, it will be found in the search.
Khatiyan/Porcha are available in the local Land (Tohasil ) office, DC office. Certified copies of all relevant Khatiyan/Porcha should be obtained and checked. The name of the owner should be verified against the history provided in the deeds. If there is any mismatch, there should be proper explanation.
If the name of the present owner does not appear in the latest Khatiyan/Porcha, it is mandatory to mutate his/her name in place of the old owner in the Khatiyan/porcha. Three documents are required for mutation: i) Mutation proposal letter, ii) Duplicate Carbon Receipt (DCR), and III) Mutation Khatiyan. Without Mutation, a person cannot transfer the property title to another person.
The buyer should check with the Tohasil office/Upazila Land office whether the certificate of the land is under litigation, or whether the land has been auctioned. However, the buyer must keep in mind that Section 7 of the Government Payment /Claim Act 1993 states that such property in the certificate is not eligible for sale.
It is important to know whether the land is Khas, abandoned/ unapproved or noted for acquisition, from the Tohasil office or the Land Administration (LA) wing of the Upazila Land office or the Deputy Commissioner's office.
It is necessary to ascertain whether there is a suit in the court of law regarding the land. If yes, such land should not be purchased. If there is a structure on the land or in case of a flat or apartment, the buyer should verify the building plan, approval letter to make sure that the building was constructed according to approved plan of the competent authority.
The latest registration information should be obtained from the sub-registry office or the district registrar's office. Land tax record should be thoroughly checked. If land tax of a property is not paid, the government may take the property.
One of the most important things a buyer should be careful about is that there are certain places which are prohibited for sale, but some unscrupulous agents might tempt the buyer to buy such land. For example, to protect the bio-diversity of Bhawal National Park and its vicinity, the government has prohibited sale and purchase of land as well as construction of residential or commercial or industrial structures in some specified locations at Gazipur sadar Upazila.
Nuzhat Rifa Ehsan is a practising lawyer.