Chief Minister of Goa, Mr. Digamber Kamat said that his government is seriously considering regulating the sale of property to foreign nationals in the state. The Goa government is working out on a bill to tense up the control on sale of land to foreigners. On this issue, Mr. Kamat said, “It’s not yet a cabinet decision but we are all concerned about how the image of Goa is being ruined in the wake of certain incidents involving foreign nationals”.
While Law Minister Dayanand Narvekar has announced that the government has decided to ban foreigners from buying properties in Goa, the ground reality may be different.
Mr. Narvekar told in a press conference,“The government has decided to bring in the Legislative Assembly an amendment to Section 22 of the Registration Act, which will empower the State government to ban the sale as part of its public policy”. But he elaborated by saying that registration of sale of land to any foreigner henceforth will require clearance from the Reserve Bank of India. However, Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) does not mention that an NOC is necessary for buying property.
State Chief Registrar Mr. Vithal Salkar opined that this only indicates that there is no provision under FEMA that permits RBI to give an approval for property transactions by a foreign national in India. Some legal experts opined that Article 245 of the Constitution will nullify the State legislation which contravenes central enactment unless the State legislation has been reserved for or receives assent of the President of India.
Former Advocate General A N S Nadkarni said, “It is too early to analyse anything now, but with 100% Foreign Direct Investment being permitted, it is to be seen how proposed curbs would stop a foreign national from buying land.”
Another point that is raised is whether the government intends to bar foreigners from buying properties or whether the decision is mainly to meant to impose some restrictions so that FEMA provisions are not violated.
The sale of land to the foreigners had become a contentious issue in Goa with the State government unearthing 400-odd cases of sale of properties to foreigners.