Checking accurate ownership of property in Bangladesh is an arduous task. Recently, in order to lessen the coercive process of verification of land management, the government has introduced Digital Land Management System (DLMS) by which the land area of Bangladesh 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. 65 lakh Khatiyans and scanned copies of 18,500 map-sheets have been indexed into the system, but the prevalent system is yet to be abolished. Therefore, some precautions must be adopted by buyers before acquiring any land.
Firstly, all relevant information related to the property should be collected, particularly the plot (dag) number, Khatiyan number, present possessor, holding address. Without these, it might not be possible to verify the records of the property in question.
It is also essential to check the genuineness of the title deed. This can be done by conducting a search in the relevant Sub Registry Office. All registered deed has a record of the original deed in the Sub Registry office in which it is registered. It is also possible to obtain a certified copy of the deed by paying a small amount of government fees to the Sub Registrar. In case of property owned by 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 upon the search.
It is important to note that, if there is something written in the comments section of the field such as (AD), then it might be objectionable to the verification or purification or attestation phase against the Khatiyan.
Khatiyan/Porcha are available in the local Land (Tohsil) 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 of property devolution provided in the deeds. If there is any mismatch, there should be proper explanation.
The land that the buyer is going to purchase should be known from the Tohasil office/Upazila Land office whether the certificate of the land is litigated, or the land has been auctioned. However, the buyer must keep in mind that Section 7 of the Government Payment /Claim Act 1993 states that the property in the certificate is not eligible for sale.
It is important to know whether the land considered is Khas, abandoned/ unapproved or noted for acquisition, either from the Tohsil office or the LA branch of the Upazila Land office or the Deputy Commissioner Office (DC office). Buyers should also make sure that the sale of the land is not prohibited under existing laws.
It is necessary to ascertain whether there is a suit in the court of law regarding the land that the buyer is going to buy. However, the abovementioned land should not be purchased. If there is a structure on the land or a building or apartment, the buyer should verify the building plan and the approval letter in order to make sure that the building is constructed according to the plan.
The latest registration information should be obtained from the sub-registry office or the district registrar’s office.
The land tax (Khajna) record should be checked. If land tax of a property is not paid, the government may take away the property.
If the above steps are followed, one can reduce the possibilities of any legal complications arising out of land purchase.
The writer is a practicing lawyer.