The Process And Precautions Behind Land Transactions
Liberalization of foreign investment policies has attracted many foreign investors to make investments in the Indian real estate sector, both financial and strategic.
The natural consequence of this interest by foreign investors and other financial investors (including strategic, private equity and hedge funds) has been that large tracts of land are being acquired. This process requires a professional due diligence exercise to verify the legality of such transactions and the underlying acquisition of land. The acquisition of land by Indian real estate companies entails an equally mammoth investigation process.
Title search investigation (to verify that the land being acquired is validly owned by the seller) is a part of this overall due diligence exercise. Title search investigations are usually localized and have historically been conducted by local lawyers who practise in the area where each real estate project is being developed.
However, with the increase in the size of the projects and the changing profile of stakeholders, large, well-reputed law firms have started playing a vital role.
The Bombay high court, through its judgement in Ramnikal Tulsidas Kotak v. M/s Varsha Builders (AIR 1992 Bombay 62), has set out the broad essentials of a title investigation and the title certificate issued after such investigation. The court stated that lawyers are expected to apply skill and professional expertise while carrying out the due diligence, and should themselves peruse the title deeds, carry out a search in the office of the sub-registrar and with the registrar of companies, as required.
Hence, larger firms that do not conduct title searches themselves work in tandem with local lawyers, who provide investigation reports.
Source: Gautam Varma & Pankaj Jain, August 13, 2007 Mint << BackTop
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