67        Improving Land Records in India


67.1   Problems with land/flats ownership records – they don’t exist!!!

67.2   How high stamp duty worsens ownership records

67.3   Overview of the proposed Land Record System

67.4   Most important feature --- notification of sale etc. by SMS, email to owners ; all relatives

67.5   Insuring land/flat sales

67.6   Details of the proposed land record g land/flat sales

67.7   Summary of proposed plot/flat ownership recording system

67.8   What can YOU do to improve land records in India and reduce frauds in land sales?


67.1 Problems with land/flats ownership records – they don’t exist!!!

Many of us think that so called Revenue Departments of State Governments keep some records about "ownership" of the plots/flats. This is a misconception. The Revenue Department records such as 7/12 record, are "tax records" for land plots and NOT ownership records. In past, the Kings and his officers only used to keep name of person to be contacted in case of tax-default i.e. tax on that plot doesn’t come in time. And as long as taxes came, the Kings’ officers never bothered to check if the person named in records is still living there or still the owner or even alive. What if person to be contacted in case of tax-default is not found? The Kings could not care less --- they would collect tax from person who is possessing the plot or confiscate the plot and auction it. Only the initial allocation of plot or auction held by King or his officer would have seal of King or his officer. The ownership was basically “public knowledge” , ascertained by the tradition that  change of ownership was done in public in public meetings. Only “first” allocations or auction of land confiscated by kings would have seal of king. The Moguls and British continued with same tax-record-keeping system. The grim reality today is that there is NO govt dept in India which keeps information on land/flat ownership !!!

Now almost all over world, this was the case till 1860. In all countries across world, the Governments at Central, State and even Local levels only kept list of plots and names of the persons to contacted in case of tax-default happens. And Governments till 1860 never bothered to keep land sale records, ownership records and ownership was established by public knowledge and chain of sale contracts. Sometimes, chain would start from year as back as 1200 AD !! In the chain of sale-contracts, if one sale document is found defective, all subsequent sale documents and final sale document will face the challenge. Till 1860, it was lesser issue, as mobility was less, and “everyone knew every neighbors” in village or even cities. In 1860, Australia was first country to  create ownership record, and later all European countries and USA followed the system. But India’s PM, CMs, MPs and MLAs have opposed the proposal  to create a land ownership system till date.
          And the revenue records in India are also incomplete and inaccurate. eg in many case a plot/flat is sold to someone, and for several years, the records will have the name of the old owner. Sometimes, a person would have died years/decades ago, and yet the records will have his name on the plot. There are cases where plots still have names of people who died in 1950s !! Once such case recently came up, where the plot had name of Vallabhbhai Patel (first Home Minister of India), who had passed away in around 1950 !!

So why are land/flat ownership record such a mess?

Mainly because the local officer in-charge of Revenue Dept (Talaati or Patwari or Tahasildar or Mamlatdaar) is only required to ensure that land tax is collected timely. Existing law-drafts do not require or empower him to ensure that the person whose name is on the record is alive, he is still the owner or if he was ever the actual owner. The local revenue officer does not have powers necessary to keep an accurate record of transfers and thus ownerships. The local revenue officer is not even authorized to conduct a search for "owner" as long as taxes are paid in the time. Also say a land is in the name of a person; he dies; his heirs do not get the name transferred, and keep paying the land tax; then even after decades, the (dead) person's name will stay on the record.

Also, the existing laws do not require that buyer/seller must register the sale on same day or within a certain number of days. (eg in Australia, the sale is invalid unless done before Govt Registrar, who registers the deal very same minute). Also, the local revenue officer ONLY registers the sale, and keeps record of duty collected, and he has no powers to decide if the sale is valid or not. The officer also does not have powers to decide if the seller is the actual owner or not and if he is fully authorized to sell the land/flat. Worse, the officer also does not have powers to stop the deal even if he knows and has evidences to show that the seller is not the actual owner !!! And in most cases, the revenue office keeps only the following information about buyer/seller : name, father's name, address and approximate age. The revenue office does not even keep photograph or signature or tax-ID# or ration card number or driver license number of buyers/sellers. So the revenue officer does not even have elementary means to verify if the seller is the same person who had bought the land/building before i.e. if he is the actual owner.

The matter is worse in case of flats. When a builder buys a plot and makes several flats on that plot, and sells them, the first sale is need not be registered at all in many states. So in many cases, while a plot may have say 100 flats, there is no entry for even one of the flat in revenue records. And when that flat is sold for the second time to someone else, and when the transfer document comes for registration, the local revenue officer has no way at all to know if the seller was the first buyer, as the first buyer's deal had never come for registration. Fortunately, the local Municipalities has fairly accurate record of flats, and their areas, but Municipalities do not have any record of ownership (nor they are required to keep it). At best, they keep the record of occupier, and that too may be stale.

Since it is not legally necessary to register a sale within any time limit, it is perfectly possible for a land owner to sell the plot/flat several times to various buyers and cheat them. Also, if a plot/flat-owner has taken a loan against the plot/flat, it is not required for lender or borrower to register the loan at revenue office. It is still optional, and sometimes even organized lenders do not register their outstanding loans. Now if the owner sells the land, the lender can still put a claim on the land, and drag the new owner to the court who had not taken even a penny from the lender. Also, if the loan has been fully paid, it is not required for the lender to un-register the loan, there by creating confusion even in case of "clear" plots.

And there is quite a lot of confusion when a person expires, and has no clear will describing ownership of his land/flat. The heirs can file a suit against each other. But the courts in India, particularly the civil courts in-charge of resolving such disputes are notoriously slow. It literally takes years and decades for courts to give verdicts. Meanwhile, the title of the plot/flat becomes defective.

And a large number of Revenue records are lost, literally. It is hard to believe, but the Revenue Department has actually lost the records as sometimes papers are torn, brittle or got soaked in rain, or got burnt in some fire, or got washed away in some flood. And the duplicates were never kept, or the records were never updated back from the duplicates.

And worst of all, a large number of plots and flats are under litigation, and ownership cannot be decided unless and until case is over. And if the any of the party of challenges the verdict in a higher court, then it can take still more time.

Now a whole book can be written on how defunct our land/flat ownership record system is (compared to western countries) and tens of thousands of frauds it causes every year. Now some 150-200 years ago, this confusion, uncertainty and resulting frauds were prevalent in almost ALL western countries. One of the first countries to solve this problem was Australia, which solved it by enacting the "Torrence System" in around 1860s. The Torrence System was highly successful in creating very less error prone and thus very accurate land/building ownership records. And this drastically reduced frauds, uncertainty, ambiguity, litigations and confusion in the land/flat sales and leases, and thus improved liquidity of land/flat market and development of economy. Very soon, several countries took cue from Australia's Torrence System, and created similar such record keeping system. A noteworthy example is Germany, which revamped its land record system in year 1901, and since then confusion, uncertainty and frauds in real estate market have nearly disappeared in Germany.

67.2 How high stamp duty worsens ownership records

Along with improving records, we also need to reduce stamp duty, which worsens the record keeping job. The current transfer tax (so called stamp duty) is some 6% - 7% of the market value of the land/flat (it varies from state to state). IOW, if a person sells a flat worth Rs 1000,000/- in Gujarat, the buyer will have to pay a stamp duty of 6% i.e. whopping Rs 60,000/-. Such high stamp duty discourages buyers from registering the deal "as soon as possible" and so gives ample opportunity for seller to commit frauds. Further, to avoid stamp duty, people often draft a document known as "irrevocable power of attorney". What is "irrevocable power of attorney"? Say A gives irrevocable PoA to B over his land/flat. Then B can become the lawful owner for all practical purposes. IOW, A can sell land/flat to B and B will NOT need to pay stamp duty of 6%. But PoA is not transferable. So when B wants to sell the land to C, he would again need signature of A. If A refuses to co-operate, and in case A has expired and if heirs of A refuse to co-operate, the property's title i.e. ownership becomes defective.

So although technically, maintaining accurate records of land/flat ownership has nothing to do with amount of stamp duty, it is indeed the case that if the stamp duty is high, a significantly large number of buyers may try to use every trick in the book to avoid the registration of sale, thereby making the ownerships defective and increasing chances of fraud. So IMO it is must to reduce stamp duty to improve ownership records.

67.3 Overview of the proposed Land Record System

Initially creating plot/flat records and owners’ records

1.  DLRO (District Land Record Officer) will create record of size, location and boundaries of plots\flats and post it on internet and also release CD every month. Most Collector already have record of plots and Municipalities have record of flats. DLRO will use existing serial numbers or issue new serial number for each plot/flat

2.  DLRO will ask all persons who have one or more plots or flats in that District to register their ownership or whatever claims they have over plot/flats. Along with their ownership\claims\loans, the parties will also give their details such as name, Pan-ID, address, email addresses, mobile phone numbers, picture, finger print, passport number, license number, date of birth, father’s name, father’s PAN-ID etc.. DLRO will use his Pan-ID or issue a serial for the owner in case he does not Pan-ID.

3.  If a person has PAN-ID, he must give and use Pan-ID. He has serial number issued by one district, he must use that in all district across India and must not obtain one more serial number.

4.  DLRO will issue one card for each plot, with names of owner on the cards, along with owners’ serial numbers and their share. If share is unknown, then DLRO will write share as unknown, which will be later decided by a trial.

5.  The owners can also register their relatives, neighbors and their mobile numbers and email addresses. In such case, they will all get SMS\email for 15 days after lock is removed and/or sale is done. This way, if sale is fraudulent, they can inform the owner.

Ensuring that records are accurate thereafter

6.  Using TCP, citizens should print a draft in Gazette which will make it compulsory for owners to register the changes in plot/flat boundary before they make changes in the boundary by splitting or merging or any other way. Eg say a builder plans to build say 10 flats on a plot, then first he needs to register the plan to create 10 flats, submit the property card of plot and obtain 10 serial number and one property card for each of the flat. This would not require him to give details like floor plan, but some details to identify the flat uniquely (numbers, relative locations, directions, no of floors, no. of flats on each floor etc.) should be made compulsory. This registration should be must be made before he can sell the flats. Likewise, if a person divides his flat/building into two or more parts, and plans to sell them independently, then he would first need to get the entry of his building/flat "dissolved", obtain two or more separate serial numbers for each part, and only then he would be allowed to sell the units.

7.  This registration is only to keep track of "existence" of plots, sub-plots and flats, not to verify factors like safety, or consistency with town planning laws, zoning laws etc.. So the officer in-charge needs only limited powers.

8.  If owner allows, then DLRO will put the owners’ information such as name, address, mobile number, email address, sale lock, photograph on the website of DLRO. If owner does not want part of whole of information to be kept on the web, then website will show it as “owner requested confidentiality” .

9.  Some pieces of information will be photograph (to be updated every 5 years), signatures, (to be updated every 5 years), finger print (to be updated every 10 years), tax-ID#, bank account number (optional) etc.. Once the National ID System, the revenue office will NOT need to keep this information. But till then land record offices MUST keep owners' information to ensure that seller is indeed the owner.

10.            If owner has demanded a lock on sale, then sale will occur only 15 days after lock is removed by the owner. To remove the lock, the owner will have to personally visit the DLRO office or send authorized registered agent. When lock is removed, the owner will get SMS, email as well as letter to his address

11.            Whenever a sale occurs, the owner will get one SMS and one email for 30 days.

12.            The sale will be considered valid only of buyer and seller are both personally physically present before DLRO or seller signs the document before some other DLRO, if seller happens to be out of town and cannot move to the town, or seller is handicapped (in which case DLRO or his officer will personally visit him).

The above procedure code will not only create accurate ownership records but also ensure that frauds will reduce to near zero.

67.4 Most important feature --- notification of sale etc. by SMS, email to owners ; all relatives

Why were land sale frauds rare till 1850s across the world? Because almost everyone knew the owners and lands sales were done in public in village meetings. Today, frauds happen, because sales are kept confidentially in Govt offices or in private, and there is no optional or compulsory procedure to inform neighbors, relatives or even the owner !!

The proposed procedures will allow owner and new buyer to specify the names and mobile numbers as well as email addresses of himself, relatives, neighbors etc.. Before and after sales, all of them will get SMS\email about the sale. So if the sale was fraudulent, the chances that owners will come to know about the sale increases and so chances of fraudulent sale will decrease.

67.5 Insuring land/flat sales

This is the most important feature of Torrence System, and my also proposal, which is basically a procedure to enact Torrence System in India. The proposed system will enable the land records office to keep such an accurate record, that it would possible for State Govt to insure the land transaction as following :

1.     Say in ownership records,. plot/land is registered in the name of A

2.     Say seller A and buyer B appear at DLRO for sale. Then DLRO will have to certify that the person who claims himself as A is indeed A.

3.     A sells land/flat to B, and DLRO will registers the sale

4.     DLRO will charge B an insurance fee.

5.     if later, it is found that the entries in records were erroneous, i.e. --- not A, but some other person say C was the actual owner OR the person who had appeared at office was not A but some imposter, and actual A had never come to sell the land , then in such case, Govt of India will compensate A, and B will can continue as lawful owner.

6.     DLRO will later work with police to track down the source of mistake and punish/fine the culprit to recover the loss.

67.6 Details of the proposed land record g land/flat sales

The details of the proposed procedure to create and maintain land/flat ownership records are as follows :

Setup of the personnel

1.     The CM will appoint a DLRO i.e. District Land Record Officer for every district.

2.     The citizens may replace the officer using Right to Recall procedure similar to RTR for District Education Officer (for draft of RTR-DEO, pls see section-30.2)

3.     The Land Record Officer can use existing staff in District Collector's office after permission from Collector, or recruit new staff using open written competitive exam.

4.     The citizens may expel a staff member after a Jury Trial (similar to Jury Trial over Policemen described in section-22.5)

5.     In the subsequent clauses, the word DLRO will mean DLRO or officer appointed by him.

Creating a record for each plot/flat

6.     DLRO will create a Land Ownership Register for each town/ward in the district.

7.     In the register, DLRO will create a record for each plot and one record for each property owner in that district. DLRO will give say a 10 digit serial number to the plot, and a use Pan-ID of property-owner or give 10 digit serial number to property owner, if he does not have Pan-ID

8.     If a plot has multiple sub-plots or several flats in it, then DLRO will mark the plot as Complex plot, and create a separate record for each subplot or flat (to some extent, this work is already done for sub-plots, but not for flats).

9.     If a plot is not divided into sub-plots or a flat is single entity, then DLRO will mark the record (and the plot/flat) as Atomic plot .

10.            DLRO will list the serial numbers  of the sub-plots and flats on the record of that complex plot.

11.            A Complex plot cannot have any owner, and cannot be sold/bought. Only Atomic plots will have owners and can be bought or sold.

12.            If owners of a plot wish to make sub-plots/flats in his plot, he must first register each sub-plots/flats with DLRO. DLRO will ensure that all owners and claim-holders of the plot/flat have agreed with the splitting scheme. The splitting scheme must obey the plotting rules of sub-plot size and road size amongst plots. DLRO will then mark the plot as "Complex" and create records for each sub-plots, and make the owners and claim-holders of the plot as owners and claim-holders of sub-plot in the same proportion or as per the splitting scheme.

13.            DLRO will charge a fee equal to 0.1% of land’s circle rate value as charge for sub-plotting.

14.            Likewise, owners of several adjacent plots want to merge their plots into one bigger plot, the DLRO will do so only after all smaller plots are owned by same owners in same proportion, and there is no claim against any of the smaller plots. Then DLRO will mark the records of smaller page as "dissolved after merge", create an entry for bigger plot, and put the plot number of bigger plot in the record of each smaller plots.

15.            If a plot has several flats in it, DLRO will divide the plot into same number of "unbordered" sub-plots, as there are flats, and give serial number to each sub-plot. He will keep area of unbordered sub-plots as follows :

o   in proportion to number of shares each flat owner has in the co-operative society or non-trading corporation which owns the plot OR

o   in proportion to flats' carpet area, as per the original construction plan OR

o   as per agreement amongst all flat owners made at the time of formation of housing society

16.            DLRO will ensure that sum of unbordered sub-plots' areas is same plot's area. DLRO will also give a serial number to each unbordered sub-plot and will associate each unbordered sub-plot exactly with one flat.

17.            DLRO will issue two numbers to each complex/atomic property : a serial number and one hierarchical number. The hierarchical number of land will be as will be as towncode.plot_number.subplot_number.___ , and that of flats will as towncode.plot_number.sub_plot_number.unbordered_plot_number.flat_number. The serial number will be a 10 digit flat sequential number issued for that town.

18.            Later DLRO will also issue “5 Pairs of Geographical Location Numbers" for each plot. The 5 pairs of geographical location numbers will be created as follows :

o   The DLRO will decide a reference point for each town/ward, which can be the geographical center of the town/ward, called as the Town/Ward Reference Point.

o   For each plot, the DLRO's staff will decide 5 Plot Reference Points, one at the center of the plot and other 4 will be east-most, west-most, north-most and south-most points on the borders of the plot.

o   The DLRO's staff will measure the distances between the 5 Plot Reference Points and the Town\Ward Reference Point along East-West (X) direction and North-South (Y) direction.

19.            Later, DLRO will put actual boundaries with serial numbers on websites.

20.            These steps will reduce the burden for potential buyer to locate/visualize the plot. This will reduce the frauds and also improve efficiency of selling and thus improve the liquidity of the land estate market.

Creating first (tentative) ownership record

21.            Using existing land tax records and existing municipality property tax records, the DLRO will create a tentative ownership record, which will NOT be assumed as correct, but taken as a starting point.

22.            The DLRO will keep the entire register, with serial numbers of each plot/flat and the first ownership data, on the website, and also in his office for public view. The LRO will also publish a CD of the entire register every month.

23.            The DLRO will issue notices to the owners of the property, and all the owners who had had held that property in past 10 years or past 3 transfers, which ever is more, and every person/company which has registered a partial or total claim (claims are sometimes called as "weights" in Govt records) on that flat/plot, or the plot of which that flat/plot is part of, to re-register their claims.

24.            If a complex plot has a claim against it, then DLRO will copy that claim on ALL the complex/atomic properties in that complex property. He will copy the whole claim, as well as put an amount which is divided pro-rate land area. (example : say a plot of area 1000 sqm has a claim of Rs 100,000/- against it and there are 4 sub-plots of 100 sqm, 200 sqm, 300sq and 400sqm each. Then DLRO will freeze all sub-plots, and put a note of Rs 100,000 of claim on all sub-plots and a weight of Rs 10000, Rs 20000, Rs 30000 and Rs 40000 respectively against the sub-plots.)

25.            Each person, who may or may not be on the existing revenue records, will register his claims, and DLRO will put the claims on the net within 90 days after the initial records are put on the web

26.            At the end of six months period, the LRO will publish a final list of claims and disputes, and publish an interim copy of the register, and also publish it on the net and CDs.

27.            If a property has only one sole owner, and there is no claim against it or against all the complex properties in which it is enclosed, DLRO will mark it as Clear, and will give ownership (title) certificate, after the sole-owner pays 10% of the value of the property as interest bearing guarantee. DLRO will return deposit to the owner or his nominee if no valid claims come over the property in next 10 years.

28.            If a property has two or more owners, and there is no claim against it or against ALL the complex properties in which it is enclosed, then if the ALL the owners agree on the %-ownership of the property by appearing in person before DLRO, then DLRO will mark it as clear, and will give ownership (title) certificate, after owners pay a total of 10% of the value of the property in the ratio of their % ownerships as interest bearing guarantee. DLRO will return deposit to the owner or his nominee if no valid claims come over the property in next 10 years. DLRO will issue one certificate and the person who is approved by highest % of owners will get the custody of the certificate. And he will give a "co-owners'" copy to all the owners.

29.            If a property has two or more owners, and they cannot decide the %-ownership amongst themselves, then DLRO will ask each party to declare the %-ownership he has in the plot. If the %-ownership adds upto 100 (or less), there is no dispute. If the %-ownership is more than 100, then DLRO will call a Jury to decide the %-ownership of each party. DLRO will impose a fine on each party depending on difference between his claim and what Jury awarded, if the person's claim was higher. Eg

o   say there are 5 claimants on a property, A, B, C, D and E.

o   they declare a claim of 20%, 20%, 30%, 30% and 40% respectively, totaling 140%.

o   Say Jury decides ownership as 20%, 30%, 30%, 20% and 20%

o   In such case, A, B and C got rewards more or equal to their claims. So there is no fine on them.

o   But D and E had declared a share more than what an impartial Jury decided. So D and E will have to pay a fine in proportion to their excess-claim, as decided by a second Jury.

o   As a guideline, the second Jury can use following formula to decide the fine as 10% of market value * (ownership declared - ownership given)/100. So if an owner had asked for say 35% of the plot/flat, and he was awarded only 30% on a plot of 1000sqm with value as Rs 2000/sqm, then fine will be 10% * (10000 * 2000) * (40 - 35)/100 = 10/100 * (1000 * 2000) * 5/100 = Rs 10000

o   The owners must pay the fines within 1 year, or DLRO will collect fines by selling their assets or their share in the land.

30.            Only after all the fines have been collected, DLRO will issue the ownership certificates.

31.            All the ownership certificates will have an expiry period of say 3 years after the date of issue. At the end of expiry, if the property is not sold, the owners must return the certificate to DLRO and obtain new certificates.

Creating a record for owner

32.            DLRO will take name (as it appears in tax-ID or national/state/district ID), addresses, photograph, email address, mobile numbers, signatures, finger prints, tax-ID#, date of birth as on school leaving certificate or some other document, both parents names and their tax-IDs (if they have) of the owners.

33.            In case the owner is a company, he will take company's as well as directors' information.

34.            If owners want, he will put the information, like name, address etc. in the register on the net. If owners do not want, then the website will show owner’s details as confidential.

35.            When National, State or District ID Systems comes, DLRO will not need to take this information to identify the owners. Till then, DLRO may need this data to ensure that a person who has come owner of a plot/flat is the same person as is registered in the land/flat ownership records.

Registering the transfer --- "no immediate registration - no sale, no transfer"

36.            A sale, or loan or rental for a period longer than 2 years will be void unless it was approved by DLRO or his designated deputy, and posted on land register.

37.            If a property owner is the sole owner and he wants to sell the property to someone else, he may do it by appearing in person or by sending an agent with power of attorney. The agent must be a registered solicitor in the district, or a child/parent/siblings/spouse of the seller and no-one else.

38.            If one owner of the property owners want to sell his stake to an existing owner, the permission of other owners will not be required. The DLRO can register the deal, and issue a new certificate. The DLRO will summon the person who hold the certificate and co-owners' copies, take the old certificate and copies back, and provide them with the new certificate and copies.

39.            If a land/flat owner is a co-owner, and he wants to sell his portion of his land/flat to someone other than an existing co-owner, the transaction will require permission of all the existing co-owners. They must appear in person, or via an agent.

40.            DLRO will allow the owners to mark the property, at the time of purchase or later, as following

o   To be sold only if owner appears in person : in this case, no agent can appear to sell the property. To be sold only by a following agents : in this case, the owner will have to personally appear, and submit the name and other information of the agent who may operate on his behalf. The agent must be a registered solicitor in the District/State or son, daughter, parent, sibling or spouse of the owner. The owner can take-off agents name anyday i.e. the power will always be inherently revocable.

o   Payments must be by account payee cheque or drafts : In this case, the seller must make payments by payee-AC cheques or else the DLRO will not approve the deal.

o   Payments must be made by account payee checks in owner's bank account# XXXX : In this case, the seller must make payments by payee-AC cheques to the specified account, or else the DLRO will not approve the deal.

o   The payments must be equal to or more than at least 75% of the circle rate price : In such case, the payment amount must be over 75% of market value or else LRO will NOT approve the deal.

41.            The owner may or may not use any, all or none of the above markings. The above features protect the owner against possible frauds.

42.            To remove such "markings", the person must appear in-person, and the marking will be removed only 15 days after person appears. The message that marking is removed will be sent to him via SMS\email every day.

43.            If a loan is to be taken against a plot/flat,

o   The lender and borrowers (i.e. owners) must register the loan to DLRO before the loan money is taken, or else the loan will be considered void

o   If the plot is complex, i.e. already divided into independent sub-plots or a plot on which independent flats have been made, DLRO will not allow the loan against such plots, and such loan will not amount to any claims on the plot. If plot is complex, the loan must be taken against atomic plots and/or flats in it.

o   The DLRO will allow only one lender to give loan against a plot/flat.

44.            If the loan has been paid, the lender must release the claims within 3 months, or else DLRO can summon a Jury to issue a fine on the lender.

45.            The lender must re-register the pending amount on the plot/flat every year. Or else, DLRO can initiate a search, summon the lender and also summon a Jury to decide a fine on the lender.

46.            In case the lender cannot be tracked for more than 3 years, the LRO can assume that the loan has been repaid in full, and remove the claims

47.            If there is a pending loan on the plot/flat, the DLRO will transfer the plot/land ONLY if the lender or his agent withdraws the loan at the time of the sale (basically seller will have to pay the loan to lenders and remaining amount to owner at the time of sale).

Changing the transfer tax rates

48.            Transfer tax will be 0.5% of market value of land/flat

49.            The transfer tax will be 20% higher if there are more than one buyers

Specifying the nominees

50.            Any buyer can specify 0, 1 or more nominees at the time of buying the property. He will need to provide names and relations with the nominees and other details at the time of buying the property. Within 30 days, he MUST also provide photographs, addresses and tax-ID# of the nominees.

51.            The buyer may also provide %-share of each nominees (the shares MUST add up to 100).

52.            If there is NO nominees, the transfer tax will be 50% higher. And if there are over 5 nominees, then the transfer tax will be 50% higher.

53.            If an owner dies, and there is only one nominee, and he is alive, then the property will go to him after he pays the transfer tax. If the nominee is person other than child, sibling, parent or spouse, the DLRO must put the transfer request on notice for 14 days before transfer. DLRO will also contact all known and registered relatives via SMS, email etc..

54.            If an owner dies, and there is only one nominee, and he is dead, the property will go next kin of the owner, NOT the next of the kin of the nominee.

55.            If an owner dies, and there are multiple nominees, and all of them are alive, the property will go them in the %-share he specified. The LRO will issue the new certificate ONLY after each party pays transfer tax in proportion to their share on the property. The transfer tax will be 20% higher if there are more than 5 nominees.

56.            If an owner dies, and there are more than one nominees, and one/more of them is alive, but one or  more are dead, then ownership will go to the listed nominees only, not the relatives of the nominees, in the proportion of their shares.

57.            In case there are no nominees, or all nominees have expired, then DLRO will post the information in bulletins, conduct a search for heirs, and the heir will get property. In such cases, the transfer tax will be twice. In case of disputes, the Jurors will decide the %-shares of the heirs.

58.            In case, a person is a co-owner and NOT a sole-owner of the land/flat, he too can specify the nominees in the same way.

Keeping tracks of deaths

59.            Each hospital/morgue in the country will be required to inform deaths with IDs of the dead persons to central office in New Delhi, which will send this information to each LRO.

60.            If a land/flat is owned by a person, and the LRO gets information about the person's death, and nominees DO NOT appear within 30 days, the LRO MUST start a search for his nominees within 60 days. If the nominees DO NOT arrive within 3 years, the LRO may auction the property, and put the amount in the name of nominees.

61.            If nominees appear after 30 days, but before auction, they can get the property transferred after paying transfer tax plus 10% on pending taxes (plus interests).

62.            If a person is a nominee in any land/flat, and the LRO gets information of his death, the LRO must summon the owner of the land/flat and ask him to remove that person as nominee.

63.            In case of a dispute, the LRO will call a Jury to decide. Insurance against bad sales

64.            Say a person Y has purchased the land from X, and deal was approved the LRO. If later it is found that Z was the actual owner, NOT X, then LRO will pay the market value of the land to Z, and Y will be able to keep the plot/flat

65.            The LRO with the help of police will conduct the criminal investigation to arrest X, fine/imprison him and recover the money.

67.7 Summary of proposed plot/flat ownership recording system

There are 100s of micro-issues and micro-solutions that come in land/flat transfer code, and issues like pending loans, deciding heirs etc.. Some of them are already addressed in existing laws, some are not, and more and more issues keep coming as time goes. The proposed procedures does not list solution to possible problems which may come. Much of the exceptional cases are to be resolved by courts (i.e. Jurors). What the proposed procedure proposes is the following :

1.     Right to Recall over District Land Record Officer and Jury Trials over his staff so that frauds reduce.

2.     Each plot/flat is uniquely and unambiguously identified, and recorded in Town Land Register. The full details of all plots is put on website. So if a plot is incorrectly registered, errors will be found earlier.

3.     Each owner is registered in District and/or State and/or National ID System. His name, addresses, mobile phone number, email address, other IDs (like passport#, driver's license number), names/IDs of parents, DoB, picture, signature etc. and some bio-details like retina scan, finger print etc. are also known. Also, mobile phone numbers and email addresses of his neighbors, relatives etc. are also registered in the system.

4.     No sale, purchase, transfer (by gift, inheritance), taking mortgage i.e. loans or ANY transaction involving that land/flat (except rental for less than 2 years) is valid unless it was signed and registered in front of DLRO and approved by DLRO. The information is sent to owner, neighbors, relatives etc. by SMS\email for 7 to 15 days.

5.     If a lawful owner loses ownership, then the DLRO will compensate him by paying prevailing market price, and will trace the culprit, and the Jury will decide a fine on him.      

This procedure will would reduce frauds, confusion and ambiguity in real estate, and thus improve the liquidity of real estate market. This will improve the economy.

67.8 What can YOU do to improve land records in India and reduce frauds in land sales?

Please read chap-13 of this book http://rahulmehta.com/301.htm . It has several steps where-in you can spend 6 hours a week and help to bring TCP draft in Gazette in India. The steps involve distributing pamphlets, informing citizens on motives of leaders such as Congress MPs, BJP MPs, The Anna, Arvind Gandhi etc. who oppose TCP draft, by giving newspaper ads and contesting elections. Once TCP gets printed in Gazette, using TCP, it will become easy for activists to get citizens’ opinion law-drafts necessary to improve land ownership records and also reduce frauds. Once law-drafts such as Right to Recall District Land Records Officers, Transparent Land Records System etc. get printed in the Gazette, the land ownership records will improve and land frauds will reduce.