Niti Aayog Releases Draft Model Act On Land Titles

  • 10 Nov 2020

NITI Aayog has released the draft model Act and rules for states for regulation on conclusive land titling.


  • To reduce litigations and ease the land acquisition process for infrastructure projects.

Salient Features

  • It provides state governments power to order for establishment, administration and management of a system of title registration of immovable properties.
  • Under the model Act, the land dispute resolution officer and land title appellate tribunal are one-shot institutions which will fade away as the work reduces.
  • Also, after three years of its notification, the register of title attains conclusivity without any external action. Conclusive land titles are guaranteed by the state for correctness and entail provision for compensation by the state in case of any dispute.
  • Any person aggrieved by an entry in the Record of Titles may file an objection before the Title Registration Officer within three years from the date of such notification.
  • Following this, the Title Registration Officer shall make an entry to that effect in Register of Titles and in the Register of Disputes and refer the case to the land dispute resolution officer.
  • A party aggrieved with an order of the land dispute resolution officer may file an appeal before the Land Titling Appellate Tribunal within 30 days of passing of such an order.
  • A special bench of High court shall be designated to deal with appeals against the orders passed by the Land Titling Appellate Tribunal.

Land Title

  • Land title is a document that determines the ownership of land or an immovable property.Having a clear land title protects the rights of the title holder against other claims made by anyone else to the property.
  • In India, land ownership is determined through various records such as sale deeds that are registered, property tax documents, government survey records, etc.
  • The current system of land records was inherited from the Zamindari system of pre-independence days. Currently, the rules for title of land, is provided by the Transfer of Property Act, 1882.
  • The primary law that regulates the registration of land related documents is Registration Act, 1908.

Issues with Land Title in India

Land Ownership in India is Presumptive

  • In India, land ownership is primarily established through a registered sale deed (a record of the property transaction between the buyer and seller).
  • Other documents used to establish ownership include the record of rights (document with details of the property), property tax receipts, and survey documents.
  • However, these documents are not a government guaranteed title to the property, but only a record of the transfer of property.
  • Therefore, land ownership in India, as determined by such sale deeds, is presumptive in nature, and subject to challenge.

Land Records are Poorly Maintained

  • Land records consist of various types of information (property maps, sale deeds) and are maintained across different departments at the district or village level.
  • These departments work in silos, and the data across departments is not updated properly.Hence, discrepancies are often noted in land records.
  • Therefore, in several records, the property documents do not match the position on the ground.
  • Poor land records also affect future property transactions. It becomes difficult and cumbersome to access land records when data is spread across departments and has not been updated.
  • One has to go back several years of documents, including manual records, to find any ownership claims on a piece of property.Such a process is inefficient and causes time delays.

Registration of Property is not Mandatory for all Transactions

  • Under the Registration Act, 1908, registration of property is not mandatory for all transaction
  • These include acquisition of land by the government, court decrees, land orders, heirship partitions, and property that is, leased for less than one year.
  • Since heirship partitions do not require registration, several property divisions are not recorded, and hence, do not correctly reflect who is in possession of the property.
  • This often leads to litigation related to rightful owner among heirs.

Government Initiative to Improve the System of Land Records

  • Around 1988-89, the central government started the Computerisation of Land Records scheme to computerise all land records. Other schemes to improve land records and administration that were introduced around the same time were the Strengthening of Revenue Administration and the Updating of Land Records schemes.
  • In 2008, all these schemes were merged into a centrally sponsored scheme, the National Land Records Modernization Programme (NLRMP).
  • The scheme has now been renamed as the Digital India Land Records Modernization Programme (DILRMP) and is a part of the Digital India initiative.
  • The scheme was changed into a Central Sector Scheme in April 2016.

Way Forward

While conclusive titling has been suggested as the solution to solve the problem around land records in India, several steps need to be completed before the government starts giving out guaranteed land titles.

These steps include-

  • amending laws across centre and states;
  • administrative changes at the state level that streamline the collection and maintenance of land data; and
  • ensuring that all data is regularly updated and easily accessible (on a digital platform).