If 12 crore farmers in India are able to produce legitimate documents on land ownership, a high number would also be able to get access to bank loans, expand their assets and change their lives.
This is possible only if the proposed Indian Land Titling Bill 2011 becomes a law and is implemented well. It would usher in a dramatic transformation, to say the least.
The government proposes to create a digital infrastructure for land records. Effectively, India is moving to the Torrens Title system that prevails in most Commonwealth countries.
The new law will form a title registration authority that will maintain all land records electronically.
According to experts, the move will ease a lot of pressure on the bureaucracy and judiciary. Under the current system, a new buyer is expected to verify title deeds and whether the seller had the right to sell the land. This means costly title searches and litigation. According to one estimate by a leading Mumbai-based securities firm, 80% of the disputes before high courts are 'civil' as against 'criminal', with the origin being in land ownership.
Here are some key takeaways from the proposed Bill:
* The Department of Land Records, Ministry of Rural Development, has released a draft version of the Land Titling bill, which seeks to provide for the establishment, administration and management of a system of conclusive property titles through electronic registration of immovable properties. A new Title Registration Authority and an appellate tribunal would be created.
FP comment: According to one estimate, India has 12 crore farmers and 85 lakh small shops. Because of lack of ownership documents, many of these people are not able to get loans or expand their net worth. The electronic land record system makes things easier. It establishes a clear title and this would make things simpler for borrowers and lenders alike.
* Land being a state subject, this will be a 'model law' for consideration by the states to implement.
FP Comment: The onus is on states to implement the new law. Karnataka has a scheme called 'bhoomi'. According to state estimates, 2 crore land records of 67 lakh farmers have been digitally stored. In the Bhoomi project, a printed copy of the record of rights, tenancy and crops (RTC) can be obtained online by providing the name of the owner or plot number at computerised land record kiosks in 177 taluk offices, for a fee of Rs 15. Click here for more details.
* The Act envisages creation of authorities at the local, district, state and national levels. It provides for a mechanism to invite objections and for the resolution of disputes through special tribunals.
FP comment: The bureaucratic structure is laid down clearly. However, the enforcement of processes is critical. All states would have to set up efficient systems to address grievances. Since the process is electronic, the treatment of each query is likely to be on a first-come-first served basis.
* Any grievance against the titling authority or tribunal has to be filed with the state High Court. Civil courts would no longer entertain any appeals.
FP comment: A significant burden of land disputes could go off civil courts. The indirect impact of having such a system would be significant on the judiciary.
* The new law proposes compulsory biometric identification. Iris identification or finger print would be a must.
FP comment: Another avenue for Unique Identification, or UID, launched under the 'Aadhaar' scheme to prove its worth. With the rapid allotment of numbers, UID is expected to increasingly become the most used mode of identification. The new system does not have to separately spend on biometric identification processes.
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Updated Date: Dec 20, 2014 03:56:39 IST