Govt advisory warns states to be cautious about outsiders indiscriminately buying land in India

New Delhi : The Finance Ministry has issued an advisory which alerts the state governments to be ‘extra vigilant’ against the illegal purchase of immovable property by the foreign nationals in some parts of the country.

The advisory was felt necessary in view of the recent reports about foreigners indiscriminately buying properties in Goa, Karnataka, Punjab and Maharashtra by violating the local laws and getting them registered with the authorities, said sources.

The advisory says the authorities concerned in the state governments should satisfy about the eligibility under the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) before registering the sale or purchase of any immovable property and even review the registrations already made to determine their compliance with the legal requirements.

It says, the relevant travel documents and the nature of Visa may also be verified before entertaining applications for transfer of the properties.

“It has been observed that foreign nationals coming to India and staying beyond 182 days on a tourist or other Visa meant for a certain period are illegally acquiring immovable property in violation of the extant rules and regulations under FEMA,” says the advisory.

It underlines that FEMA requires a person to satisfy the conditions of the period of stay of more than 182 days in the country, including the purpose of stay and the type of Indian visa granted to him to indicate his intention to stay in India for an indefinite period.

It says the person acquiring the immovable property has to also fulfill the requirements prescribed by the state authorities.

The advisory clarifies that only an Indian citizen resident outside India and a person of Indian Origin residing outside India is allowed to acquire immovable property in India under FEMA, but that too excluding agricultural land, plantation or a farm house.

It says a foreign company is legitimately allowed to acquire immovable property in India if it has established a branch office or other business activities in the country and such acquisition is necessary for or incidental to carrying on such activities.

A foreign national residing in India for more than 182 days during the course of the preceding financial year for taking up employment or carrying on business or vocation or for any other purpose, indicating his intention to stay for an uncertain period can acquire immovable property in India, the advisory said. Such a foreign national cannot buy a farm house or plead to undertake cultivation by buying farm land, it added.

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