It is not a secret that around 60% of the black money of the country is stacked in the immovable assets like residential and commercial property. Lack of transparency in property buying selling, weak laws and unclear land titles etc., have been major cause of black money investment in real estate and dispute for the property. Many players of black money have greatly used real estate sector to invest their illegitimate money and made further profits from the same.
To put a full stop to such chain of corruption, recently many steps including RERA (Real Estate Regulations Act), GST (Goods and Services Tax), and demonetization were taken. Where RERA and GST have directly played a key role in making real estate sector more promising and transparent, demonetization has also shook the foundation of black money. These initiatives have curbed the use of black money in real estate and lower down the number of age-old property disputes. Now another initiative by the government to boost transparency and clear out the air around ‘benami property’ is the Aadhar-based authentication for property registration.
We all would agree that Aadhar Card has become an essential identity proof in India in the past few years. From getting a PAN card or opening a bank account to getting gas connections tax return filing, Aadhar Card has become the mandatory identity proof in India. Now, the government has initiated and made Aadhar-enabled authentication compulsory for property registration in India. The government has been hinting towards this major shift in the real estate sector since 2014 when the Finance Minister Mr. Arun Jaitley mentioned Aadhar linkage in real estate. The Section 32 and 32A of the Registration Act have been amended and every person presenting registration documents would have to compulsorily undergo Aadhar authentication.
Why Aadhar-Enabled Authentication For Property Registration?
In order to ensure transparency and accountability in the real estate sector, the government has started Aadhar-enabled authentication for property registration. There are two major reasons behind this amendment in the Registration Act. They are:
To curb black money
Black money is majorly invested in the real estate sector, especially in the premium property worth more than INR 3 crores, opines Pankaj Kapoor of Liases Foras, an esteemed real estate adviser. In order to cut down the hiding of black money in the real estate sector to make it white, Aadhar authentication is a must. This would increase transparency in transactions as the unscrupulous buyers would refrain from storing their black money in real estate. Any information regarding the buyer could be easily retrieved by government officers before or after registration to enhance verification.
As tax returns and other things are also linked to Aadhar card, the buyers would now think twice before investing any undeclared money in buying property. This linking of Aadhar card with property registration would help in sucking out black money from the real estate market. In fact, the pre-existing owners of property in India would also have to get their registration linked and duly verified with Aadhar number. Additional verification would deter and discourage the property buyers from investing black money in real estate.
To put an end to ‘Benami property
Even after the Benami Transactions Amendment Act, 2016, people are still investing their money in benami properties. To crackdown the benami property deals, the government has made it compulsory for buyers to authenticate their registration with Aadhar card. According to Amber Maheshwari, property advisor to Mint, "Not only will it boost transparency, but it will also provide a critical database on the supply-demand, sales and pricing trends in real estate.” The Income Tax Department has already started matching the property investment made by people with the tax profiles.
The people registering for benami property would start disinvesting in benami property, which would eventually increase price rationalization. This amendment in the Registration Act would make it compulsory for the buyers to link their unique Aadhar number with property registration documents. This would enable the government to immediately identify who the real owner of the property is. This would discourage the property buyers from using other people’s name to convert their black money into white by investing in benami property.
Many states in India have already announced Aadhar-authentication for property registration process. Prospective buyers and sellers would need unique Aadhar number for buying or selling property in India. In fact, the status of proprietorship documents of property owners is already being cross-verified with Aadhar number. The government can retrieve any information regarding the buyer during property registration for complete verification. This move would definitely boost accountability and transparency in the real estate sector.