Most of us have a basic idea of the procedure through which property can be bought and sold. But not many of us know that even today, there is no definitive proof of ownership of a piece of land. We normally ‘prove’ our ownership of land through government-issued documents such as property tax receipts, proof of survey by a government department, or commonly, proof of having ‘bought’ that land in the form of a sale deed. In reality, all these documents are questionable in court. In other words, there is no conclusive proof of one’s ownership of land.
To achieve a system of guaranteed title, the Ministry of Urban Development set up Project PLATINUM (Partnership for Land Title Implementation in Urban Management). The Working Group of this project has come out with a draft Land Titling Act that aims to implement a Guaranteed Land Title (GLT) system. This was an expansion of a similar draft Act put together by the Department of Land Resources. The end product of this setup will be a GLT that will confer on the holder the status of undisputed owner. This has several advantages, the most obvious being the reduction of land-related litigation in our already overburdened courts.
The other aim of the PLATINUM Act is to conduct a comprehensive survey of entire areas, especially cities. Currently the boundaries of the land being bought or sold as mentioned in the deed are usually measured by a private surveyor, and are not verified. A comprehensive survey will identify the boundaries of each piece of land and give them a unique identity number. All documents attached to that piece of land can then be attached to the unique ID. This will thus eliminate the often laborious process of having to examine titles and link up previous deeds. The land transaction process is thus bound to become more efficient and transparent.
Thus, it is only when this draft Act is passed by Parliament that the phrase ‘my land’ will finally make legal sense.
Shravan R is interning with Janaagraha’s Advocacy unit and is currently working on drafting the legislation for Project Platinum. You can have a look at the draft law here.