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Newsletter January

Close on the heels of the Demonetisation wave in India is the talk about ‘Benami Property’ and the severe crackdown that the government is expected to make on it. Benami Property is the property that is not in your name. As per an earlier benami Property Act of 1988, all property that did not match the following criteria was called benami property –

  • Property held in the name of your spouse or child and paid through known and declared sources of income
  • Joint property with a sibling or any other relative and paid with known and reported sources of income
  • Property that someone holds only in a fiduciary capacity – that is, holding an asset in the name of somebody else but not for his benefit. The holding would have been made so more by trust or guardianship.

However, according to the new Amendment introduced in November 2016, the government has now not only revised the definition of benami property but has also increased the punishment for such an offense. Additionally, there have been penalties stipulated for the benami transactions and legal authorities set up for the resolution of such cases. The newly revised definition of the Benami Property includes all immovable assets like land, an apartment or house; movable assets like gold, stocks, mutual fund holdings, bank deposits, etc. and in case the benami property has been sold it would include the money so earned from the sale too. (For more on ‘benami property,’ check our website www.nrilegalservices.com)

All these steps are being taken to bring in greater professionalism and transparency in the Real Estate Sector. The government is also trying to reduce ownership title risks and the benami transactions in the agricultural sector.

Effectively, the country is headed towards cleaner governance, and there is a wave of transparency in the country. In the given scenario, it is imperative that all assets be clearly held and be compliant to the norms set up in the country for ownership. In India, property ownership titles remain ambiguous for many. People inherit property and fail to get the due transfers done in their names. Disputes related to properties are common, and court cases related to ownership rights over property can go on for decades. Such conflicts are more frequent in cases of inheritance. It is in the interest of the owner that the property documents be updated.

Post inheritance, you may or may not have to conduct financial transactions till you decide to give your share further to someone – against a payment. In any further action to be carried, it is necessary to go through legal formalities to obtain complete ownership of the property. Legal formalities may differ depending upon the nature of the property, your rights over it, number of legal heirs and other aspects. The following are the documents needed for transfer of property:

  • Registered Will – A legal binding Will is essential.
  • Succession Certificate – In the absence of a Will, the Succession Certificate is crucial. It is vital that the natural successors to a particular property obtain this from the court. To get the Succession Certificate, documents like the death certificate of the deceased, birth certificates of the possible inheritors and other important identity proofs are required.
  • Purchase deed and other registration papers related to the property-if the property is dated and relevant required documents cannot be obtained; then it is important to obtain verified copies of the title deed from the registrar’s office in the deceased’s jurisdiction.
  • Encumbrance Certificate – stating that the property is free from any monetary and legal liabilities/disputes.
  • ‘Khata’ – that is, the proof of the entry of the person’s property in the records of the Municipal Corporation. This would include many details like the name of the owner, type of property, a record of property taxes and their payments and more. For any transfer to be conducted efficiently, it is vital that the Khata is also transferred and the revenue records are updated with the details of the new property owner.

All the documents mentioned above are submitted to the concerned authorities for the transfer process to be carried out smoothly. In the case of an NRI, he or she can appoint a Power of Attorney (POA) also – a Special one, to be safe. Such steps should not, however, be taken without consulting any lawyer. Some people continue to enjoy the property without taking the necessary measure of transferring the property. It is always better to exercise caution and get it done as soon as possible. The procedures can be cumbersome but the sooner you tackle the paperwork, the better it is for you regarding the rules of the land.

  1. Make sure your property documents are in order and duly updated as per the current status of the asset. Keep all documentations ready, even if there is no dispute or problem. Do ensure that a registered Will is present. It saves a lot of time and trouble. The last version of a registered Will is one that is used.
  2. Know the valuation or the market price –In case you are the one transferring the property, it is paramount that you get the accurate valuation of your property before transferring it. Doing this will also give you a clear idea about the fluctuations of the capital gains tax.
  3. Make sure you have a proper legal description of the property- Mentioning a precise legal description of your property at the time of the transferring is crucial. Details like your address, landmark, few specifications, and dimensions are the details which are needed to be mentioned.
  4. Gift deed/Will deed – Transferring a property can either be as a gift or as per mentioned in a will. The transfer of property as a gift deed will require a stamp duty, whose value and purpose rate will be fixed by the government.
  5. Notarizing the deed – While you’re notarizing or transferring your property, it is important that you find a suitable notary public to notarize the deed.
  6. Once property gets transferred in your name, the next important task is to apply for mutation of property title. It is done to record the transfer of a title of real estate from one person to another in the land revenue records. This is required for the purpose of payment of property taxes, or to transfer or apply for utility connection in the name of new owner.
  7. Act NOW to make sure your property does not fall into the category of any unlawful definition in the current scenario in the country.

Settled in the US for the past thirty years, Kulwinder Singh was the recent recipient of a substantial amount of wealth in the form of land, warehouses, and houses after his parents’ sudden death in a road accident. A few concerned friends advised him that it was in his interest, that he be practical and take stock of the property he had inherited as the only child of his parents.

Once he started pursuing the matter through the relatives around his village near Phagwara in Punjab, he was totally beleaguered by the sheer volume of paperwork to be handled or the administrative/ legal details to be looked into. By the time he finished the post-death ceremonies and went back to the US to rejoin office, he was completely lost in details of his wealth. Hence his plight when he called the company office was understandable.

Legal experts in the office were quick to explain to him that inheriting property does not revolve around just declaring on a simple paper or by word of mouth that the property would henceforth be in somebody’s name. There were proper procedures for property transfer, and it was important to adhere to all these norms and rules.

There could be problems illegal transfers, illegal possession or even illegal sale by third parties if he didn’t act on time. Like any other overseas citizen, Kulwinder was also not aware that there are formalities like Transfer Title or Title Deeds.

The transfer would not be an automatic process; in fact, it would be a process under the law where proper documentation would be needed to submit to the land revenue or registry departments. No usage of the said property was possible before that.

Like all our other clients, Kulwinder too was guided mainly through e-mails or telephonic conversations. Our resourceful online updating system helped him keep track of his particular case and much to his astonishment the entire paperwork was carried out without him having to go through the hassles of frequent visits to India.

 

 

They say that when you sit at the ‘ghats’ of Rishikesh, listening to the evening ‘Aarti’; you experience unfathomed, unexplored depths within your soul.  Glistening earthen lamps floating in the river Ganges, reflections of the lit up temples in the ever changing flow of water and the resonating sounds of the temple bells – all of this blends together to form that one musical note which overwhelms your soul with wonder, devotion and self discovery. A city famous for its Yoga ashrams and classes, and now also famous for its white-water river rafting and trekking, has been long called the ‘gateway to the Garhwal hills’. Part of its reputation as a home for spiritual seekers comes from being associated with the Beatles tryst with the divine here. Rishikesh is the starting point for the ‘chaar dhaam yatra’ namely, Gangotri, Yamunotri, Badrinath and Kedarnath.

The city is a vegetarian city and also an alcohol-free one. Shopkeepers and vendors have also worked towards the ban of plastic bags, thus making Rishikesh one of the pure, clean cities. Amongst the places of interest in this city are the Laxman Jhoola and the Ram Jhoola, suspension bridges which were created as pedestrian bridges and still retain their magnificence as the splendid view-points for the ghats below. Other places of interest in the city are the Triveni Ghat, the Bharat Mandir, Gita Bhavan, the Neelkanth mahadev Temple, the Trayambakeshwar Temple and the Parmarth Niketan which is one of the very Ashrams in India where children can be educated about the Vedas.

Also famous is the ‘Swarg Ashram’ or the ‘Heavenly Abode’ which is an agglomeration of many ashrams and temples. This area is known for its purity and sanctity. One finds this mentioned even in the ancient Indian scriptures. Scattered across this area are various ashrams and temples – this area is famous for its healthy living environment.

In Rishikesh, when you are not taking a dip in the Ganges or checking into an Ashram to study yoga, meditation and Hindu philosophy, you could put yourself into adventure activities that this holy city is now getting fame for. White Water rafting is one of the better known activities – you could take on an overnight camp on the banks of the Ganges, a trek among the hills and even enrol for a course in rafting. Camping is another activity that has no age limit. The thrill of Rappelling attracts many and the cliff drop that is involved sees a lot of enthusiasts feeding their adrenalin. Rock Climbing, Cliff Jumping, Kayaking, Trekking, Bungee Jumping and nearby excursions.

In recent times, Rishikesh has grown to be a unique combination of Spirituality and Adventure. Both the spheres are closely related to Nature and have a feeling of abandonment, freedom and self realisation attached to them. Much as they seem to be at different ends of the experience graph, the truth is that both bring man close to his roots – nature and his natural instincts. Rishikesh offers the amazing blend of both these along with Yoga, and has shot up to be one of the major attractions to anybody visiting India.

By | January 26th, 2017|Health tip, Newsletter, Traversing India|0 Comments

DEMONETISATION – THE SOCIAL IMPACT

Post November 8, the country has been debating on whether it helps to have a cashless economy or not. With that, there have been discussions going on about how exactly to convert the economy into a digital one. Somewhere in the background, this move towards turning into a cashless economy has shown its effect on the social set up too. First, Demonetisation has brought the trafficking of women and girls for sex work to a stop. It has been estimated that this has been a Rs 20 trillion industry.

The process of trafficking of women is usually completed by November, after which trafficked women and girls are transported to various parts of the country to be sold to brothels, placement agencies and as child brides. Post demonetisation and the withdrawal of the Rs500 and Rs1000 currency notes, this trade, is said to have suffered a significant blow. Typically, the sex trafficking is carried on from Guwahati in Assam, Jharkhand in the North and Chennai, Bangalore and Hyderabad in the south. There hasn’t been any record of even one girl being trafficked in the past one month. Transactions related to this trade were carried out in cash. With the supply of notes in the economy reduced, people were suddenly left with no liquidity to pay to the middlemen.

Sex trafficking is one of India’s biggest organized crime rackets. The “cost” of a woman or girl is usually pegged at Rs2.5 lakh. This includes the cost of transporting her, paying off local politicians, authorities and police officials and finally, the cost of grooming her. Actual costs, however, are as low as Rs 20,000. The remaining Rs 2.3 lakh is taken by the trafficker or the middleman. A study by Global March against Child Labour (a network of trade unions, teachers, and civil society organizations) has estimated that the annual figure in India for this kind of trafficking is about Rs 18.6 trillion.

Cash payments dominate the category of prostitution too. There have been many media reports of sex service workers asking clients for digital payments – something that could prove to both awkward and arduous for people who indulge in these services.

One of the major impacts of the demonetisation process has also been felt in the Narcotics Trade. This has been another huge section of trade, and most marketing takes place through Afghanistan and other ports. Black money rules this business. In Maharashtra and Himachal, drug trade came to a virtual standstill after the government announced demonetisation. Drug peddlers found it difficult to sell their stock after high-value currency went missing from the economy. Even small transactions were affected – with most of the drug players having gone into hiding till the market gets into revival mode. Supply of narcotics from Jammu & Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh into Maharashtra and other states has also gone down. The Narcotics Bureau has found that while the drug detection rate might be the same as before demonetisation, the quantity of drugs seized from the peddlers now is much less than earlier.

With all this, is also the effect on one of the key objectives of the demonetisation process namely, terrorism. The idea was to make fake notes flowing in from Pakistan, mostly in 500 and 1000 rupee denominations, useless. In doing so, black money, a significant source of terrorist funding, would dry up.

Behind the overwhelming debates, discussions and criticism of the demonetisation process that we have been seeing in the past one month or so, there have been some silent positive social effects too.  For all other detailed processes and policies on the eco-political impacts, do keep in touch with our posts on our website www.nrilegalservices.com

By | December 22nd, 2016|Blog, Demonetisation, Demonitization|0 Comments

DEMONETIZATION AND NRIs

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There is a common online joke in India these days that the new definition of a Tsunami is the sombre voice uttering -mere pyaare deshvaasiyo…  With all the humour that it evokes on a daily basis, it is indicative of the powerful change that the storm named -Demonetisation-  has brought into the country in the past three weeks or so.

On November 8, Prime Minister Modi shook the nation by his announcements regarding the demonetisation process in the country. Broadly, his announcement enunciated the following:

  1. The legal tender character of the existing banknotes in denominations of  500 and 1000 issued by the Reserve Bank of India till November 8, 2016 (from now on referred to as Specified Bank Notes) was withdrawn.
  2. All these notes could be exchanged over the counter in any of the 19 offices of the Reserve Bank of India and deposited at any of the bank branches of commercial banks/ Regional Rural Banks/ Co-operative banks (only Urban Co-operative Banks and State Co-operative Banks) or any Head Post Office or Sub-Post Office.
  3. The minor details stood as following-
  • Over the counter exchange of the old notes of Rs 500 and Rs, 1000 was withdrawn post-midnight November 24, 2016.
  • From November 25, an individual could only deposit the old notes in their accounts and then withdraw new currency through ATMs or cheques at banks.
  • The government intends encouraging people who currently do not have accounts to open them and deposit the abolished notes.
  • There would still be a limit of Rs 24000 per week withdrawal per bank account
  • At the time of this article being published, ATMs can be used to draw up to Rs. 2,500 a day per card.
  • The RBI has doubled the limit on digital transactions through e-wallets like Paytm to Rs. 20,000 per month.
  • For Foreign citizens, the rule is that they would be permitted to exchange foreign currency up to Rs 5000 per week. However, now entries would be made in their passports. The RBI proposes to issue further guidelines regarding this.

The move also affected many NRIs who keep Indian currency with them sometimes. As per rules, NRIs are supposed to reconvert the Indian currency into their foreign currency before they leave India so that they don’t have much Indian cash with them. In case for some reason they were not able to reconvert, the following applies to them-

BRING THE CASH WITH THEM TO INDIA

  • If planning to travel to India before December 30, 2016, then bring the cash and exchange it at any bank or post office in India.
  • Also, up to March 31, 2017, exchange the money at specified RBI offices by producing required documents (passport showing you were not in India before current visit from the time of announcement of demonetization, valid identity proof etc. Please check RBI website for more information)

SEND THE PHYSICAL MONEY WITH SOMEONE TRUSTWORTHY:

  • If unable to travel to India give the money to someone else trustworthy who is travelling to India.
  • They could then exchange it on the person’s behalf.
  • It is advisable that an authorizing letter is provided to that person to exchange the bills on the NRI’s behalf with other valid documents like PAN card, Aadhar card, Passport copy, Visa copy, etc.
  • Please do remember that the limit on currency a traveler can bring into India without declaring is Rs. 25,000.

IF THEY ALREADY HAVE CASH IN INDIA:

  • According to RBI guidelines, if an NRI already has old banknotes in India, he may authorize in writing and enable another person in India to deposit the notes into his bank account.
  • The person so authorised, has to come to the bank branch with the old banknotes, the authority letter given by you and a valid identity proof (Valid Identity Proof is any of the following: Aadhar Card, Driving License, Voter ID Card, Pass Port, NREGA Card, PAN Card, Identity Card Issued by Government Department, Public Sector Unit to its Staff).

DEPOSIT THE OLD NOTES IN YOUR NRO ACCOUNT:

  • NRIs can deposit your notes into their Non-Resident Ordinary (NRO) Savings Account.
  • However, this is an option only if they are traveling to India before December 30, 2016.

There have been some sections that are troubled by the system of changing old notes or withdrawals, but by and large, people are hopeful of positive changes happening in the economy. The bird’s eye view or the big picture opinion seems to point out to the fact that in the long term, this move would reduce the dependence on cash alone, increase the inflow in banks leading them to reduce lending rates in the economy and thus, help increase demand in the economy.

While we attempt to bring you the latest in the country on this issue, it is vital to remember that new notifications are being issued almost every day. We do suggest you keep a close check on our website www.nrilegalservices.com and also verify facts from the RBI website www.rbi.org.in.

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Detoxifying is an often misused word. However, if it were seen as yet another way to keep our body pure and free from diseases, one would learn to value this process. What is of immense importance, however, is that we respect our body, understand its needs and problems and then follow a detoxifying routine that adds energy to our basic system rather than leaves us feeling weak and starved. We do the routine cleaning at home only when we get time from our more pressing job or business responsibilities. In the same way, our digestive system takes care of the accumulated backlog only when we give it some rest. This rest comes in the form of light eating. As long as we are eating to our fill, there is no chance of the backlog to be cleared. The importance of weekly fast or a 12-day “detox” can be followed during the regime of a full Holistic course. We can reap huge benefits even by shorter rest periods too. Whenever you find yourself tired, out of sorts or uneasy, your first line of defence should be to skip dinner. Just this much of sacrifice will help you bounce back the next morning. It does not have to be zero food either. Maybe you can do with half the normal dinner? Or just a bowl of boiled vegetables or maybe soup. This intermittent fasting will help your digestive system to recoup fast. Some people rather skip lunch but that proves counterproductive because one feels voraciously hungry around 5 pm and ends up eating junk. If you are skipping dinner, make sure that you don’t indulge in a midnight binge. Steel yourself and make sure that even if you find it difficult to sleep, you do not take anything except water after 9 pm. You will be so much the lighter the next morning and will find yourself full of renewed vigour. By the way, skipping dinner is also a magical remedy for eliminating cough and cold. At the first sign of throat irritation, decide not to eat anything after sunset. You will be in fine fettle the next morning.

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ALL FOR A HOT CUP OF TEA!

Munnar is perhaps one of the leading examples of what Rudyard Kipling said, “The first condition of understanding a foreign country is to smell it.” Step into this city at the convergence of three rivers and be greeted by a range of flavoured aromas – tea, cardamom, ginger, pepper, cinnamon, espresso, nutmeg, and cloves. From refreshing to pungent, Munnar offers you a taste of life in its most raw yet most ethereal form. Mountain peaks, lush sprawling tea gardens, wilderness, meandering rivers and spice gardens – this and more in this enthralling home to waterfalls and tea estates. You could be walking along curved paths and simply breathe in the freshness that the fragrance of tea leaves laced with that of spices brings with it. Couple it with the opportunity to buy all the sources and you’re bound to be in love with the experience that this part of the country offers. You could even indulge in sinfully delicious chocolates and convince yourself that the calories added are balanced by the sheer love, purity, and passion with which these are made by so many small ventures here – white or dark, liqueur or simple, plain or the ‘nutty’ ones!

At a height of about 6000 feet, this amazing geographical domain lends an enriching experience of walks through low floating clouds and misty roads, age-old architecture and nostalgic whiffs, dense wilderness and structured tea gardens! Childlike wonder and adventure could make you want to bounce and dance your way over the sloping tea bushes. Just as the misty environs during the rains and otherwise set your mind thinking on cinematic reels. Amongst the attractions here are a few tea estates at heights of almost 800ft – tough rides in jeeps through the mountain paths to reach the destination get negated by the spectacular view that you see from these heights. There are some tea factories standing strong and firm in their work since the early 1900s. The historical significance is enhanced by the fact that quality of the produce remains unmatched even now.

That Munnar has been an important summer resort for the British during the times of the Raj. One can still bask in the warmth of the colonial remnants even while enjoying the wilderness. Picture perfect gets a new definition here in Munnar. There is hardly any other place that offers such a vast spectrum of natural beauty. Lakes, hills, waterfalls, greenery and buildings, that tell different historical stories. The most amazing waterfall here called the ‘Powerhouse Waterfalls is located on way to Thekkady falling from an altitude of 2000 metres above sea level, this is a must visit site for all tourists. It gets its name from the Power station located here on the waterfalls. Another tourist delight is the Floriculture Centre where one gets to view hundreds of species of flowers, decorative and medicinal plants, orchids and even cactus. The Mattupetty dam and lake are ideal beauty spots for people to enjoy boat cruises. The town is famous for its Indo-Swiss livestock dairy project and people enjoy homemade chocolates and other decorative artefacts. Another vantage point is Echo Point, at some distance of a few km from Munnar. Like any hill station, this is a point which gets its name from the spectacular views and the echo phenomenon here. Trekking and mountaineering can be enjoyed here.

Munnar gets considerable fame from its lake associated with Sita Devi in the quaint hill station of Devikulam in this area. Said to possess minerals and acclaimed to have healing powers, this lake attracts a lot of religious and other tourists. The Eravikulam National Park, located about 15 km from Munnar is home to the Nilgiri Tahr too. Easily comparable to the best mountain ranges in the world this was declared as National Park in 1978 due to the ecological significance and the flora, fauna and zoological importance of the place.

One of the most enchanting historical attractions is structures called -Dolmens-. These are megalithic tombs which are made of large granite slabs to form square burial chambers. It is said that sages (munis) were buried here. Besides, one can also find a lot of caves which overlook the Pambar River, and depict forms of rock paintings painted by tribes here. Marayoor-the part of Munnar which houses these structures now attracts tourists and is definitely not to be missed when you visit this part of the country.

Munnar is a name that leaves you with memories of rain and mist, hilly walks and whiff of tea leaves, spicy sojourns and homemade chocolates and a rendezvous with Nature in one of its best forms. Indulge yourself and soak in all of this while you discover this part of the country.

 

By | December 6th, 2016|Demonitization, Health tip, Newsletter, Traversing India|0 Comments
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