Clearing the mess

The proposed amendments to the Registration Act of 1908 will help to make land titles  clear and authentic and ownership of land more transparent. The Registration Act governs the registration of documents and sales of both movable and immovable property. The biggest problem with sales transactions is that it is often an act of faith because ownership records are not always clear.

The amended legislation will improve the process of registration and make it simpler. It will also ensure that all necessary information is available about the transacted asset and that it is detailed and correct. At present land records are legally available only to those who are parties to a transaction. But they will be accessible to all once the changes in the law come into effect. The amendments will have to be adopted by the states because land registration is a state subject.

The changes in the registration law will make the implementation of the proposed real estate regulatory legislation and the land acquisition law more effective. Land records in the country are notoriously unreliable. They are not updated and there is a great risk of fraud in transactions. The amendments will make digitisation an essential part of documentation of the records. Some states have started the process but this is without the necessary legislative support. Once digitisation is complete it will also be possible to ensure guarantee of title of ownership to any purchaser of property. This may be a long way off but is possible. The idea is to insure the property through a land titling authority. The authority will charge a fee for issuance of title before the transaction. The purchaser’s investment will be protected and compensation will be paid if there is fraud in the transaction.

If land titles are available online and their authenticity is assured it will also be possible to execute registration of property in a particular area anywhere. The availability of clean titles will reduce litigation and corruption and the operation of mafias in the land sector. Most of the land-related cases in courts are about titles. Government revenues are expected to improve substantially. Land acquisition for public projects and business enterprises will become easier. It is even claimed that a clear system of land titles can boost economic growth by as much as one per cent. But the most important gain will be transparency and the elimination of risk in land transactions.

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