State's move is seen as a pilot for a national rollout of online land title records. Maharashtra plans to start the system in Mumbai.
The Maharashtra government is working on a system of registration of land titles to ensure single-point availability of the entire gamut of information.
For this purpose, it proposes to introduce the Maharashtra Land Titling Act, which sources say will be a single-window mechanism for authenticating land titles.
The state had released a draft land titling act last year for public debate and has now decided to go ahead with it.
Maharashtra’s move is seen as a pilot for a national rollout of online land title records with the government.
Maharashtra is planning to implement the system in Mumbai for starters.
Government officials are currently tight-lipped due to the code of conduct ahead of general elections, but sources said that the land titling mechanism will first take off in Mumbai as linking of various departments and digitising records has been already done as part of preparation.
The first move will be to clear the draft bill in the state cabinet and get it passed in the assembly session beginning mid-June.
Once the act is passed in both houses, notifying it would be easier. However, all processes have to be completed in the next 3 months as state assembly elections are set for October.
The state will first set up the Maharashtra Land Titling Authority to undertake the implementation.
This authority will ensure that all information related to an immovable property is accessible at one place by bringing together information available with different agencies in the existing system like Registration, Survey and Land Records.
It also stands for the single agency taking care of the maintenance of records as well as updating the records as per the transactions that happen, explained the source.
There will be one or more tribunals for land titling and one or more appellate tribunal.
The Appellate Tribunal’s awards can be challenged in a special bench of high court.
The authority will also appoint the title registration officer.
Once a property’s preliminary record draft of title is prepared, objection will be invited and after considering those objections if any, the title would be registered.
The government also proposes strict penalties including fine and imprisonment in case of wilful concealment of information or deliberate furnishing of false information to any officer or tribunal established under this Act.
The significance of the issue was felt a few years ago and the Central Government had also moved in the direction.
However, Maharashtra has begun working on it.
Even when the Centre and the state were acquiring land for various projects such as Navi Mumbai airport, Mumbai-Nagpur Samruddhi Expressway and smart city projects of CIDCO near Mumbai, incomplete, old and not up-to-date titles and their records resulted in several project delays.
The state government source also said that once the new system is implemented, the land title will give security to the title and rights of persons owning, purchasing or receiving property.
This will protect title-holders from fraud while dealing in a property and provide transparency and easy accessibility of information on land and land transactions.
This, in turn, will make even financing smother.
The records will contain all important details relating to immovable property owned by a person, nature of ownership, charge or covenant on the land, and so on.
At present, it is left to the individual to ascertain the title of the property.
Under the proposed system, the title registration officer will carry out the process of preparation, maintenance and updating of the Titles register.
Photograph: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters