A plot estimated to be worth Rs 200 crore-plus in Delhi’s posh diplomatic enclave of Chanakyapuri, allotted to the Mauritius High Commission decades ago but never used, was almost illegally registered in the name of a man who walked into the New Delhi sub-registrar’s office last month.

Except for quick-thinking officials who caught the potential scam.

The simply-dressed elderly man, who called himself Tilak Singh, walked into the sub-registrar’s office last month, armed with a conveyance deed from the Land and Development Office (L&DO). But something was off — the man didn’t dress the part, nor could he give consistent responses to questions posed by officials there.

At 1,354.16 square yards, the plot of land is estimated to be between Rs 200 crore and Rs 300 crore. A similarly-sized property in the Lutyens’ Bungalow Zone is on the market for Rs 290 crore, as per the price listed by Sotheby’s International Realty. Government sources suspect that getting the conveyance deed registered may have been the first step to sell the land and pocket the proceeds.

The deed, dated April 29, bore the signature of a Deputy Land and Development Officer. The sub-registrar’s officer wrote to this officer on May 17 to verify details of the deed, which is proof of a leasehold property being converted to freehold, and pointed out that all pages of the deed should have been signed and stamped. One of the pages was not.

The officer wrote back on May 29, verifying that the deed was indeed genuine and should be registered by the sub-registrar.

Festive offer

The deed — for the property number 5, Block 39, Kautilya Marg — would have been registered had officials of the L&DO and the sub-registrar’s office not caught on.

According to officials, not only was the deed fake, but the verification report by the officer was too. The officer was, in fact, not serving as the Deputy L&DO when the deed was issued. Whether Tilak Singh was the applicant’s real name is not known either, sources say.

The L&DO then wrote to all sub-registrars of Delhi on June 3, asking them not to register any conveyance deed apparently issued by the department without taking a no-objection certificate from them.

“L&DO had not issued the said conveyance deed dated 29.04.2024 and it is a forged/frivolous document. Further, as on 29.04.2024, (the officer) was not serving as Dy Land and Development Officer. Also, as per records of this office, the said property stands in the name of the Mauritius High Commission at Delhi,” the L&DO clarified in its note to the sub-registrars.

Sources said that while the deed appeared fake, the fake verification report appeared to have been sent via post from the Nirman Bhawan, where the office of the L&DO is located. They added that the involvement of a person/persons from within the office cannot be ruled out. The fake verification report had accurately mentioned the letter number written on the letter sent by the sub-registrar’s office to the L&DO, sources said.

In its office memo to all sub-registrars, the L&DO asked the New Delhi sub-registrar to initiate legal action against those guilty for submitting the counterfeit deed. The L&DO also informed all sub-registrars that it has not issued any new conveyance deeds since December 2022.

When contacted, a spokesperson for the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, under which the L&DO functions, said action had been taken in the matter. “The L&DO has replied to the registrar suggesting legal action,” the Ministry spokesperson said.

The property in question was allotted to the Mauritius High Commission on June 26, 1990, but the High Commission continues to function out of another property on Jesus and Mary Marg, a source said.

According to sources, the matter stems from a structural issue – that documents from land-owning agencies like DDA and L&DO are sent via post, leaving them open to delays and potential fraud.

The Delhi Government’s Revenue Department launched the National Generic Document Registration System (NGDRS) in January to streamline the process of registering land documents. Instead of post, the land agencies can upload the conveyance deeds on the NGDRS, from where sub-registrars can access them.

“The NGDRS software has been implemented. The agencies can key in the details of the property in the system and the sub-registrar can cross-check the details from there before registering the document,” said Delhi Divisional Commissioner Ashwani Kumar.