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The Supreme Court has ruled that property cannot be registered below the circle rates fixed by the government.

A bench comprising Justices Dalveer Bhandari and Mukundakam Sharma, while allowing the appeal of state of Haryana, noted ‘It may be pertinent to mention that in order to ensure that there is no evasion of stamp duty, circle rates are fixed from time to time and the notification is issued to that effect.

‘The issuance of the said notification has become imperative to arrest the tendency of evading the payment of actual stamp duty.

‘It is a matter of common knowledge that usually the circle rate or the collector rate is lower than the prevalent actual market rate but to ensure registration of sale deeds, at least at the circle rates or the collector rates, such notifications are issued from time to time by the appellants.’ Justice Bhandari, speaking for the bench through his 17-page judgement further said, ‘It would have far reaching ramifications and consequences if the genuineness of the sale price entered into by the buyer and the seller cannot be questioned, then in majority of cases it is unlikely that the state would ever receive the stamp duty according to the circle rates or the collector rates. The approach of the High Court is totally unrealistic.’ In the present case, Manoj Kumar had purchased a commercial plot measuring 788 square yards in Faridabad on November 10, 1999 and paid only Rs 31,000 as stamp duty by under-valuing the price of the plot at Rs 1, 95,000.

Faridabad District Collector, however, demanded the stamp duty of Rs 5,13,050 at the circle rate of the plot (i.e., Rs 4,200 per square yard) and the value of the property worked out to be Rs 33,09,600. Authorities told Manoj Kumar to pay the balance stamp duty of Rs 4, 82,050.

Appeal of Kumar was dismissed both by the District Collector and Commissioner Gurgaon.

Punjab and Haryana High Court, however allowed the appeal of Kumar holding that the authenticity of the decree passed by the court cannot be questioned.

Therefore the genuineness of the sale price has to be presumed.

Manoj Kumar has also obtained a decree in his favour from a civil court in a specific performance suit in which Faridabad authorities were not made a party.

The apex court directed Kumar to pay the balance stamp duty within four weeks from the date of this judgement otherwise the state of Haryana would be at liberty to take appropriate steps in accordance with law.

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