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Reduction in Stamp Duty and new Registration Guidelines in Mumbai (Due to COVID-19)

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Introduction

The department of Registration and Stamps, Government of Maharashtra, has come out with a host of circulars in light of spread of Novel Corona virus (COVID-19) and possible containment thereof. The Sub-Registrar offices had completely stopped operations from 20th March, 2020 to 17th May, 2020 since Mumbai was declared as RED ZONE. From 18th May, 2020 onwards being the fourth phase of lockdown some offices outside the containment zones have resumed operations with several caveats. This article summarizes several circulars issued from time to time affecting valuation, payment of stamp duty and registration of documents in city of Mumbai and Mumbai Suburban District.

  1. Reduction in Stamp Duty
    The Government of Maharashtra with a view to finance the Vital Important Urban Transport Project in the region of Mumbai Metropolitan Regional Development Authority (MMRDA), Pune, Pimpri-Chinchwad and Nagpur Municipal Corporations had levied 1% Surcharge in addition to the prevailing stamp duty rates on the instruments of Sale, Gift and Usufructuary Mortgage with effect from 8th February, 2019 and amendment to that effect was carried by way of inserting Section 149(A) to the Maharashtra Municipal Corporation Act, 1949 and Section 144 (F) to the Mumbai Municipal Corporation Act, 1888.
    Thereafter, the Government of Maharashtra has vide its order dated 28th March, 2020 by modifying the provisions of Section 149 (A) of the Maharashtra Municipal Corporation Act, 1949 and Section 144 (F) of the Mumbai Municipal Corporation Act, 1888 granted a discount of 1% on aggregate stamp duty and applicable surcharge payable on the instruments of Sale, Gift and Usufructuary Mortgage thereby reducing the stamp duty rates by 1%.Such discount of 1% shall remain in force for the period of 2 (two) years from1st April, 2020 in the areas falling under the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) and municipal corporations of Pune, Pimpri-Chinchwad and Nagpur.
    With this order the effective stamp duty rates in Mumbai  are tabulated  hereunder for ease of understanding:    
Article Description of Instrument Present Stamp Duty Rates
(w.e.f.  01st April, 2020
till 31st March, 2022)
Erstwhile Stamp Duty Rates
(From 8th February, 2019 till 31st March, 2020)
25 (b) Instrument of Sale 5% 6%
34 Gift to a non relative 5% 6%
34
(First Proviso)
Gift to a family-member being the husband, wife, brother or sister of the donor or any lineal ascendant or descendant of the donor 3% 4%
34
(Second Proviso)
Gift of residential and agricultural property to husband, wife, son, daughter, grandson, granddaughter, wife of deceased son Rs.200/- Rs.200/- plus 1% of ASR
40 (a) Usufructuary Mortgage with possession 5% 6%
  1. Annual Statement of Rates (ASR)
    As per the Maharashtra Stamp (Determination of True Market Value of Property) Rules, ASR (popularly known as Ready Reckoner) for properties in Maharashtra are revised every year on 1st April. Taking note of the difficulty in revising ASR due to spread of Novel Coronavirus (Covid 19), the Chief Revenue Controller Authority and Inspector General of Registration & Stamp Controller vide its order dated 26th May, 2020 declared that ASR, valuation rules and guidelines of previous year (i.e. 2019-2020) shall continue to apply from 1st April, 2020 till further order of the State Government.
  2. Stamp Duty on Finance Documents
    The banks/NBFCs execute many documents in the process of providing loans/finance on which stamp duty is payable. Such set of finance documents comprises certain documents which are compulsorily registrable and some not compulsorily registrable as per the Indian Registration Act, 1908. By a circular dated 27thApril, 2020 issued by the department of Registration and Stamps, the Government of Maharashtra has prescribed guidelines and mechanism for the payment of stamp duty on various documents that are executed in the financing operations of banks and/or non-banking financial institutions/corporations (NBFCs).

    1. COMPULSORILY REGISTRABLE DOCUMENTS:
      In case of these documents, stamp duty can be paid by generating e-Challan by using governments GRAS online facility without any hassles.
    2. NOT COMPULSORILY REGISTRABLE DOCUMENTS:
      In case of not compulsorily registrable documents (eg. Hypothecation, Personal Loan Agreement), the facility of payment of stamp duty through e-Challan by using government’s GRAS online portal is not available. The Stamp duty on such documents can be paid only by following ways:

      1. Stamp Papers (if the amount is upto Rs. 500/-); or
      2. Franking (if the amount is upto Rs. 5000/-);
      3. Electronic Secure Bank and Treasury Receipt (eSBTR) (if the amount is above Rs. 100/-).

However, it is pertinent to note that due to the lockdown, the payment of stamp duty through the above three ways is not possible for the banks or customers or for that matter for all citizens. In view of such non availability of stamps the execution of documents would be affected resulting into the banks/NBFCs refusing to provide the loan/finance, and such situation is not in the public interest.

In order to deal with this challenging situation as regards payment of stamp duty on not compulsorily registrable documents (eg. Hypothecation, Personal Loan Agreement etc.)on already executed documents/to be executed documents during the lockdown, the government has vide this circular issued certain instructions/clarifications, as under:

  1. Considering the provisions of Section 17 of Maharashtra Stamp Act, 1958 and Sections 10 and 11 of the General Clauses Act, 1897, the stamp duty can be paid on the first working day after the lockdown period comes to an end in that district. In such a case, the document will be considered to be duly stamped within prescribed time limit as per Section 17 of Maharashtra Stamp Act, 1958;
  2. In case the stamp duty could not be paid on the documents executed during the lockdown on the first working day after the lockdown period comes to an end in that district, then concerned party shall have the option of making application for adjudication under Section 40 of Maharashtra Stamp Act, 1958 to the District Collector of Stamps within one month from the date on which the lockdown ends (but within one year from execution) and in such case the District Collector of Stamps shall, with prior permission of Dy. IGR or Additional Controller of Stamps collect the deficit stamp duty without any penalty;

However, in case the application is made after one month from the date on which the lockdown had end­ed, (but within one year from execution), the rights of District Collector of Stamps to decide such application on merits and rights of Dy. IGR or Additional Controller of Stamps to grant prior sanction to such application shall remain unhindered;

In accordance with Section 10D of the Maharashtra Stamp Act, 1958 an option to pay stamp duty online in respect to the notified documents is also made available on the igrmaharashtra.gov.in web­site through the Government’s GRAS portal;

In case a notice of intimation cannot be filed within 30 (thirty) days of creating a mortgage by way of deposit of title deeds/equitable mortgage in accordance with Section 89B of Indian Registration Act, 1908 on account of the Sub-Registrar’s office being closed, then in such a case, in accordance with the General Clauses Act, the notice of intimation can be filed on the first working day after the end of the lock­down. Notice of Intimation can also be filed online on the igrmaharashtra.gov.in website.

    1. Circular dated 19th April,2020regarding safety measures to be taken for prevention of Corona Virus during office work:
      1. Vide this circular physical registration of Leave and License Agreement is stopped till end of July, 2020. In the meanwhile citizens can avail the facility of eRegistration.
      2. Further, host of precautions to be observed during the registration of documents in the office of Sub-Registrar have been prescribed as under:
        1. Registration of only one document at one time to be completed;
        2. Citizens to take prior appointment by eStep-in for the offices within the jurisdiction of District Head office and for other offices prior appointment can be taken by eStep-in or through office telephone or by personally visiting the office. The principle of First In First Out to be observed in giving preference to those who have first done token booking via telephone or by visiting office;
        3. Citizens to remain present in the Sub-Registrar office during reserved time slot only;
        4. The party presenting document and his/her Advocate, if present, shall be given entry in the office;
        5. Only after the scrutiny of document and presentation (Stamp I & II) other parties shall be given entry in the order of their names appearing in document for the purpose of recording of Kabuli Jabab. If there are many parties in one document then maximum of four persons shall be allowed at one time;
        6. If applicable, then orders restricting the gathering of people should be followed;
        7. Parties to stand in queue for the purpose of recording Kabuli Jabab before the Sub-Registrar/Operator (Sub-Registrar to draw queue line after every 7 ft. distance to maintain the social distancing);
        8. Parties to ensure that their hands are properly cleaned and sanitized before recording Kabuli Jabab;
        9. Parties to remove the face mask to the extent required for taking photographs;
        10. Parties to bring their own ink/ball pen and not to use other person/parties’ pen;
        11. After recording Kabuli Jabab, parties should immediately leave the office;
        12. After registration of document (Stamp V) the party presenting document and Advocate should immediately leave the office;
        13. Thereafter, the Sub-Registrar to follow above process for registration of other document;
        14. Simultaneously, the Sub-Registrar to do the paging and scanning of the already registered document and any one person of the party presenting the document should collect the original document upon receipt of intimation by SMS or upon calling his name, as the case may be.
    2. Circular dated 19th April, 2020 regarding Thumb Impression:
      Vide this circular additional instructions were issued for dealing with the process of taking thumb impression as per I-Sarita Process. It has been clarified that if the party is not willing to append thumb impression digitally (i.e. on thumb device) due to fear of Corona virus then option of “Device Not Working” should be selected by Sub-Registrar in case of such party and physical thumb impression by using Ink Pad to be taken by following due process.
    3. Circular dated 27th April, 2020 regarding Expansion of facility of eRegistration of Agreement to Sale:
      To deal with Corona virus and to generate the revenues the department of Registration had vide this circular allowed the facility of eRegistration of Agreement to Sale. In order to avail the facility of eRegistration by the Developers, the condition of registration of minimum 500 documents was relaxed to 20 Agreements for the Developers whose Agreement for Sale are in standard RERA format and to 50 Agreements for other Developers.
    4. WORKING OF SROs IN MUMBAI
      All the  SROs in Mumbai City and Mumbai Suburban District have resumed operation from 18th May, 2020, timings 10.00 am to 5.00 pm.
    5. Vide Circular read with modified circular both dated 19th May, 2020, the Inspector General of Registration and Controller of Stamps, has by keeping in mind the needs of citizens, modified and relaxed certain restrictions stipulated in Circulars dated 19th April,2020 and 27th April, 2020 as under:
      1. On account of physical filing of Notice of Intimation being stopped from 10th June, 2020 till end of August, 2020, citizens can avail facility of e-Filing;
      2. In case of Sub-Registrar offices registering more than 3000 documents per year then in case of such SROs, till the end of June, 2020:
        1. Registration of Will, Partition Deed being optional under Indian Registration Act, 1908 and registration of Release Deed, Gift to a Relative, Deed of Rectification being of less importance, concerned Sub-Registrar can register these documents if there are no other documents available for registration;
        2. Sub-Registrar offices can issue receipt for physical search. But SROs to endeavor the promotion of use of e-search facility amongst citizens;
        3. Citizens can check availability of documents, make application and pay fees for obtaining property valuation report, certified copies of documents or Index-II by availing services under AapleSarkar online portal. Citizens who have made the application and paid fees via AapleSarkar online portal can physically collect the certified copies/ property valuation report from the office.

In summation, all SROs in Mumbai have opened for physical registration of all documents (except Leave and License Agreements till end of July, 2020) and hence Agreements/Deeds of Sale or Transfer, Mortgage etc. can now be physically registered by following due precautions and guidelines issued by the department of Registration.

Compiled by
Sachin Karia, Senior Associate
Shrikant Kherkar, Principal Partner


Disclaimer:

This article is for information purpose only and has been compiled purely on the basis of circulars and orders issued by Government Authorities from time to time and the same does not constitute our legal opinion or advice.

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