Saturday, 30 May 2015

REAL ESTATE LEASES MAY HAVE TO BE REGISTERED

REAL ESTATE LEASES MAY HAVE TO BE REGISTERED
The Ministry of rural development has proposed that, the registration of real estate leases, even those lasting less than a year is made compulsory to be registered in an effort to improve transparency and modernise the Land Records in the country. It also wants to use Aadhar numbers to check the identity of the people registering the land.
The proposed amendments to the Registration Act of 1908 have been suggested by the Ministry’s Department of Land Records (DOLR). They were aimed at plugging losses to the State Exchequer due to the transfer of land by passing registration, a common practice across India. The proposed changes made it compulsory for all manner of agreements relating to land or property to be registered if they are to be considered as evidence in a Court of Law.
The proposals, suggested by an Expert panel, are still in a preliminary stage. The Ministry was unlikely to present the suggestions in the form of amendments to the 1908 Bill during the monsoon session of Parliament. The Land Survey Records that are in different parts of the country are still archaic.
“India is one of the few countries in World, where record of rights on land is presumptive; it is not conclusive unlike many other countries. They are presumed to be the Owners of land unless proved otherwise. That is why they have lots of disputes and lots of problems in land acquisition”.Government was aggressively moving towards the conclusive title. But, before they do that, they need to update their Land Records. They need to make them online and they must ensure that the survey of the Land Record is updated. The attempts are going on to modernise the Land Records and make them available online to avoid fraudulent transactions and claims.
The 1908 Registration Act is a “significant piece of procedural legislation”. The Expert panel noted that Act is rested on three principles: (i) a registered document always invalidating an unregistered one, (ii) a registered Mortgage Deed having precedence over an unregistered Mortgage Deed and (iii) the prevention of commission of fraudulent transactions in the form of sale or gift by requiring the registration of such transactions. As a result, all manner of agreements relating to land or property need to be registered if they are to be considered as evidence in a Court of Law. The Committee noted that the complexities of land acquisition are among the deterrents to investments in India, especially in infrastructure. A new Bill to replace the archaic land, the acquisition Bill is pending in Parliament and is expected to be taken up in the ongoing monsoon sessions.
The panel had advocated the redefinition and registration of leases as the provision had been exploited repeatedly, particularly in land disputes. Autonomy is given to the State to specify the floor amount for such registration. The 1908 Act does not require leases for a period of less than a year to be registered.
To ensure that all registrations are open to scrutiny, the panel has recommended the amendment of Section 18 of the 1908 Act that will ensure that the registrations are made open and available to inspection by the Public at all times.
Another section of the 1908 Act says that the panel has proposed to amend is Section 28, which states that, if a person has immovable properties in more than one State, they can get the documents related to their transfer registered in any of those States. Since, there is no provision as yet for active computerisation of Land Records, the Expert panel suggested that Registration Officers to be empowered to use the Unique Identification Authority of India’s Aadhar numbers to check and verify the identity of the persons appearing for the registration of the property.
The charges are expected to encourage and facilitate the creation of a database, with a new provision being made to allow applications online. To ensure gender equality, the panel has also recommended compulsory registration of adoption of daughters. So far, under the 1908 Act, only the registration of adopted sons was required.
The absence of a Comprehensive Law has allowed many loopholes in land registration and documentation, which has led to many unrecorded transactions as well as false claims of possession. While the last land survey in Bihar was held in 1907, in Andhra Pradesh it was in 1931 and in Uttar Pradesh in 1957. The Central Government has been funding the States for modernisation of Land Records. Under the Constitution, Land is a State subject. The Centre has launched a land record modernisation exercise in 267 districts and the process is expected to be completed by 2017.
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