Land Records Modernisation: Legal Insights
There are an estimated 24 million cases (DoLR, 2011) pertaining to land disputes pending before courts in India. This may well be a conservative estimate. Litigation around land is multi-dimensional and in multiple courts, ranging from disputes regarding boundaries, inadequate permissions, unauthorised constructions, change of land use permissions, contractual obligations, fraudulent registrations, incomplete mutations, non-updated spatial information, tenurial questions, partition matters, common areas questions, customary rights claims, land acquisition claims, notification and denotification questions and so on. It has been repeatedly argued that having an accurate comprehensive up-to-date land record system, along various parameters such as ownership, possession, classification, extent and encumbrances, which is real-time, mapped and shared across various departments and easily accessible to the common citizen, would be of value in obviating disputes around land. As such, one of the critical outcomes for any land records modernisation effort should be reduction in litigation rates. The legal issues as such cannot be separated from the larger political economy questions within which land is located in India.