The day Anurag Singh sealed the deal on his first house in New Delhi, his excitement bubbled over. He could hardly wait to start living in the house he could now call his own. Little did he know that it was a while before he could do anything of the sort.
Singh’s experience is not unique: Before the house becomes truly yours, you need to register the sale deed with the local authority. And before you register it, you have to pay a stamp duty applicable on the property as per the circle rate in that area to the state government.
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If you get into the process of paying the stamp duty in person, which involves buying a stamp paper from the court and standing in long queues, you may have to keep coming back, perhaps for a month or so, to complete the process. To avoid all this, typically, people go through brokers and hire lawyers at the time of registering to get it over in a day or two.
Initially, Singh, too, tried to do it on his own but he realized very soon that it was not possible for him to spare so much time and energy. So he got his broker to pay the stamp duty on his behalf and hired a lawyer to take the registering process further.
Filing of stamp duty and, subsequently, registering the sale deed is a must for anyone who takes possession of a house. Says senior Supreme Court lawyer Arun Mohan, “Stamp duty has two purposes. First, the government recovers revenue by collecting stamp duty. Second, this helps in keeping property records. Registration of property reduces the chances of fraud on property title.”
While things used to get done even earlier, there were no standards that people could look at. Since the procedure involved a lot of paperwork in terms of buying physical non-judicial stamp papers, signing each of the sheets, people relied on brokers and agents to get the work done. Cases of cheating, overcharging and fraud were rampant. The Telgi scam, which rocked the nation between 1995 and 2003, is a case in point. Fake stamp papers worth around Rs30,000 crore had been sold across seven states, including Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh.
However, the ministry of finance’s department of economic affairs has made the task easier by giving the process into professional hands. It has appointed the Stock Holding Corp. of India Ltd (SHCIL) to act as a central record-keeping agency to facilitate e-stamping through its various branches and banks across the country.
“E-stamping is a computer based application and a secured electronic way of stamping documents. The prevailing system of physical stamp paper is being replaced by the e-stamping system,” says the SHCIL website.
Now there are no stamp papers involved, which means there is no interface with brokers. You just deal with the lawyers at the time of registering the sale deed and pay him according to the size of the deal. Supreme Court lawyer Sunder Khatri says, “E-stamping, as it is called, has replaced the old method of submitting stamp duty through buying stamp papers.”
All you need to know is the amount of stamp duty applicable on your property.
How e-stamping is done
Once you know the amount, walk into the nearest bank branch and deposit the amount in cash or cheque or a demand draft in favour of SHCIL.
The payment is done electronically through real-time gross settlement. Once the cash gets credited into SHCIL’s account, you will get a unique transaction reference (UTR) number, or UTR code.
Says Vikram Diwan, Diwan and Co., a law firm that handles property-related cases: “The UTR code is a proof that you have submitted cash. By showing your UTR code, you can procure the e-stamp from the bank branch, which is like a certificate. Once you get the certificate, you can fill the application form in a sub-registrar’s office and submit it at the counter. The clerk will then give you a particular date when you can go to the office and collect your registered documents along with the registration certificate.”
All sub-registrar offices maintains records of their areas. Says Khatri, “The clerk at this stage will give you a diary number and a book number. This number should be used for any further query regarding your sale deed papers and other related documents lying at the sub-registrar’s office.”
Says Diwan: “Most people may not understand the working of a sub-registrar’s office. Since lawyers understand the legal proceedings and prepare the sale deed, it is convenient for them to get the papers registered within a few days. The lawyers will charge the applicant as per his standards. This depends upon the nature of property and deal size.”
Khatri says, “Lawyers generally charge Rs10,000-30,000. However, the deal size determines the processing fee. This includes the execution of the sale deed.”
Under the current network, SHCIL has branches all over the country. It has also tied up with banks for cash transfers. For instance, it has tied up with Corporation Bank in New Delhi for direct transaction. Through specified Corporation Bank branches in New Delhi, you can get e-stamp certificate after you submit the duty.
Amit Goenka, national director (capital transactions), Knight Frank India, property consultants, says, “Even post offices can become centres for e-stamping. This is a very recent move. This would help in maintaining land records and clear land titles.”