Guaranteed titles will spur growth.
The Centre’s move to draft a model law for the states to adopt, transforming the way land ownership is recorded by doing away with deeds and directly registering the title to a piece of land, is a stellar piece of reform.
When this is implemented, India will dump the cumbersome, antiquated system of establishing ownership through a chain of titles — a series of deeds that trace the change of ownership from the original transfer from the sovereign to the present — to the Torrens system of direct registration of title in a central registry.
Under the proposed system, all parcels of land will be identified and entered into a register, with an owner specified. The state would guarantee ownership.
When the owner sells his piece of land, the name of the owner would change in the register. If there is a dispute, it would go to a tribunal. Clean, state government-guaranteed titles have remained a challenge so far.
The Land Titling Bill, 2010, would fill this lacuna and provide compensation for losses arising from inaccurate property titles.
It would have a multiplier effect: reduce litigation across the country, ensure transparency, improve governance, revenues and productivity of capital.
Industry will also find it easier to acquire land when ownership is not in doubt. Land is a state subject and, therefore, state governments hold the key to implementing land market reforms.
Some of them have already been captured in electronic form records of land ownership. But what have been electronically recorded are the deeds. Guaranteeing titles will take transparency to a new level.
The Bill requires every state to set up a Land Titling Authority to write rules, create and update the register of titles, assign a unique identity number to each piece of immovable property and provide valuation details, if need be.
It would be useful for the authority to also compile data on users of land, even when these are not owners, such as forest dwellers. This would come in handy when issues of compensation arise on land acquisition.
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