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The Foreign Exchange Management Act, 1999 (FEMA), came in force with effect from June 1, 2000. Section 6 (3) (i) of the Act empowers the Reserve Bank to frame regulations to prohibit, restrict or regulate the acquisition or transfer of immovable property in India by certain persons mainly residents outside India. The restrictions under this clause are not applicable to a lease of immovable property for a period not exceeding five years. The regulations made by the Reserve Bank are called Foreign Exchange management (Acquisition and Transfer of Immovable property in India) Regulations, 2000, and have been notified vide Notification FEMA No. 21/2000-RB of May 3, 2000.

A synopsis of the said Regulations is as under:

All persons, whether resident in India or outside India, who are citizens of Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, China, Iran, Nepal or Bhutan, require prior permission of Reserve Bank for acquiring or transferring any immovable property in India.

A person resident outside India, who has been permitted by Reserve Bank to establish a branch, or office, or place of business in India (excluding a Liaison Office), has general permission of Reserve Bank to acquire immovable property in India, which is necessary for, or incidental to, the activity. However, in such cases a declaration, in prescribed form (IPI), is required to be filed with the Reserve Bank, within 90 days of the acquisition of immovable property.