Online application for the registration of land and property documents could soon be a reality as the Ministry of Rural Development plans amendments to update and close the loopholes in the century-old Registration Act.

The proposed amendments also aim to plug revenue leakage, reduce disputes, empower registration officers, increase transparency and begin the creation of a computerised database of land records in the country, according to Ministry officials.

“A note has been prepared and will be submitted to the Cabinet within a week,” a senior official told The Hindu.

The Registration Act, 1908, covers deeds of sale, gift or mortgage of lands or houses, lease agreements and wills. All such documents need to be registered in order to be considered as valid evidence in a court of law.

“Currently, there is no provision for the active computerisation of land records,” says a summary of the proposed amendments prepared by the Ministry. “To encourage and facilitate the creation of a database, a new provision is being made to allow applications online.”

The amendments propose to allow registration officers to use Unique Identification (UID) or Aadhaar number being issued to all Indian residents to verify the identity of those applying for registrations.

Registration officers are also being given new powers to refuse registration in certain cases, especially if the property is embroiled in litigation or belongs to the government.

In a bid to increase transparency, the register of all documents, except wills, will be openly accessible to the general public, under the proposed amendments.

The popularity of the 11-month lease agreement — due to the clause in the Act which makes lease registration mandatory only if it is for a period of one year or more — may soon decline, with the amendment set to reduce that time period.

So far, giving someone the Power of Attorney did not have to be registered, a loophole exploited by those using such power to transfer property without getting it registered. To end the huge losses to the exchequer, the amendment will make such registration mandatory.

The Act currently requires the adoption of a son to be registered; in the interests of gender equality, this is now being extended to daughters as well.

Another significant amendment is the proposal to ensure that documents related to property transfer can only be registered in the State where the property is located. So far, if one owns property in multiple states, the transfer documents can be registered in any of those States, leading to losses for States with higher stamp duties.

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