Need for land records modernization

Need for land records modernization
May 2018 , by , in Realty+ Connect

Land is a controversial subject globally. In India on an average land disputes take twenty years to resolve. Thus, there is a dire need for standardization and digitisation of land record system across the country.

A land’s value depends on its locationand people with land rights are better off economically due to access to market opportunities by capitalizing, mortgaging or making productive use of the land. The land ownership is broadly defined by the access to a clear land titledetermined through various records such as sale deeds that are registered, property taxdocuments, government survey records, etc.However, lack of clear titles due to legacy issues of zamindari, gaps in the legal framework and poor administration of land records reduce the value of the land and inhibit its productive use. Land disputes further impact sectors and projects that aredependent on these disputed land titles.

According to the World Bank study from 2007 estimates, land-relateddisputes account for two-thirds of all pending court cases in the country.A NITI Aayog papersuggests that land disputes on average take about 20 years to be resolved.

Land titles arepresumptive

Post-independence thezamindari system was abolished and the responsibility for landadministration was transferred to the states. but land ownership continued to be determined through a combination of legacy system and the records collected and maintained manually by the state revenue departments. Land records are maintained across multiple departmentsand are in poor condition.

The transfer of land or property between a buyer and seller is recorded through a registered sale deed. But, such registration does notalways guarantee ownership as they can be challenged. The onus of checking the validity of the rightful ownership of the property is on the buyer and not on the government. Gaps or mistakes in old land records, unrecorded past transactions and inability of the registrar to physically cross-check every property physical location andattributes are some of the factors that make it easy to question the ownership.

It is important that the process of digitisation be accompanied by updating of legal framework and capacity building at state and lower administrative levels.

Need to Standardize Land Record System

It is easy to challenge land in the absence of organised records, especially land ownership. According to the World Bank, 70 per cent of land and property in the developing world is unregistered and is outside formal markets. It is to be noted that land has been transacted in India for thousands of years and there is an evolved system to do it. However, digitisation of land records and standards, will vastly improve the ease of doing business.

Sunil Agarwal, Associate Dean and Director, School of Real Estate, RICS School of Built Environment, Amity Universitybriefs on the newly launched International Land Measurement Standard (ILMS),  part of a global solution to standardising land tenure and ownership that could be the key to helping India move to a transparent, fair and secure land transfer system.

“Currently, there is ambiguity about land, especially agricultural land, whereby even if some details are furnished on the transaction document or government records, it becomes difficult to locate the same at the site and also there are significant variations, resulting in distortions in valuation and leading to disputes. This problem also exists in urban areas and ILMS could be the answer to this issue.The ILMS standard seeks to engage all stakeholders in the land ownership, registration, measurement and transaction process. It will also help forge direct links between land professionals, legal advisors and financial reporting by de-risking the land transaction process for all parties and implementing an agreed land information framework. As they currently stand, the ILMS stipulate that any land transaction include a description of the physical boundaries and total area of the piece of land in question, a description of how it is used, any associated buildings or services, ownership and type of tenure and an estimate of the value of the land, including clarity on how that estimate was ascertained.”

State Departments responsible for land administration in the country

Department Functions Documents maintained Officers
Revenue Collection of land revenue Record of Rights (RoR) District – Collector
  Updating and maintaining revenue records Mutation register Block – Tehsildar
      Village – Patwari
Survey and Settlement Maintaining spatial land records Village map District – Deputy inspector
    City survey maps Block – Town surveyor
      Village – Village Administrative Officer
Registration and Stamp Revenue Registration of property documents and deeds  Encumbrance certificate District – Registrar
   Evaluation and collection of stamp duty Sale deed  Block-Sub- Registrar

Sources: Land administration departments of various states; PRS

Digitization of Land Records

In the past, most of the land records in the country were through village maps marking boundaries and/or paper records which included names of all occupants. Due to the lack of maintenance of actual land records, there have been litigations and property scams. To address the same, The Digital India Land Records Modernization programme (DILRMP) was launched by Government of India in August 2008. The objective of the programme was to streamline and reduce the scope of land and property disputes, thereby improving transparency in the maintenance of land records.  The main aim of the programme was to computerize all land records, digitize maps, upgrade the survey and settlement records and sustain the same.

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