Some of the citizen-centric initiatives of the State Government with regard to property registration need to be appreciated, says K. Sukumaran

For years together, the Revenue Departments in many States have been shunning away from making liberal legislations for the benefit of property owners. Some of the systems and procedures implemented by the Karnataka Government in this regard in recent times, especially those relating to land records, need special appreciation.

Document writing, record keeping and registration of property deals have been a laborious process in many countries, and in India in particular. Manual handling of these aspects had its own shortcomings, delay, and official apathy. Obtaining of certified copies of documents were a herculean task. Waiting endlessly was the only choice for the helpless citizen. Even progressive administrators were not able to change the situation much.

All these changed when the computer-aided data capturing, storing and recapturing came into existence. Jurisdictional administrative shackles gave way to centralised/multi-central set-up, which can be accessed from anywhere. The Bhoomi project of property data recording implemented by the Karnataka Revenue Department a few years ago was only the beginning of a revolution in property record keeping. The Department has now migrated to new innovations.

On November 5, 2011, the Chief Minister of Karnataka inaugurated a facility for registration and related work of any property at any of the 42 Sub-Registrar's offices within the Bangalore Urban District.

Multi-point service

As per this arrangement, the following work relating to property will be undertaken at multi-points:

Registration of property transactions/deals

Obtaining certified copies of registered documents of any Sub-Registrar's office.

Encumbrance Certificates, both before and after registration, from any Sub-Registrar's office.

Ancilliary services.

Automated information on mobile phones after registration of deals.

Messages to interested parties at all stages.

Message about every stage of the mutation process, both in English and Kannada.

Facility for the public in the Bhoomi programme for alerting them through SMS whenever a transaction is initiated on their land.

The above facilities are likely to be extended to all districts in the State in due course, with a target of six months. As per the statement of the Revenue Secretary, Rajiv Chawla, the Department proposes to facilitate online registration of property.

Property card

A card for every property owner in Bangalore is the next proposal. This includes:

Issue of Urban Property Ownership Card (UPOR), evidencing legal ownership.

A card for every property for identification.

Map of the property on the proposed card, its GPS, ownership history and mutation records.

Citizen service centres to handle the card issue work.

There are some who feel that property identification cards do not prove ownership and title need to be proved through documentary evidence such as sale deed, partition deed, gift deed etc. Whatever one may have interpretations, no one can deny the fact that the use of modern technology can bring about the much-needed change in the field of property record keeping.

Some suggestions

While extending kudos to the initiatives of the Revenue Department, some suggestions may be worth considering:

The proposed system should cover all property in a selected area.

The problem of multiple khatha should be solved once for all.

The proposed card may include/accompanied by a certificate of title, as may be feasible.

The secrecy character of the subject matter may be kept in view.

As regards the card issue work, in the light of the problems faced by the citizens in a similar venture, viz., Aadhar, despite entrusting the work to private software companies, it may be worthwhile to think of providing ‘door service' at least to elderly property owners who may be facing mobility problems.

Good intentions may be translated into good systems for reaping good benefits.