Approaches and Methods of Land Title Legislation in India

Abstract

This chapter examines some of the key policy and legal developments in India on establishing conclusive land titling legislation, at Central and state levels, within the scope of India’s Constitutional Federalism. Such legislative measures are explored in light of the broader goal of implementing a Torrens-like system of land records in the country, which involves a shift in the Common Law system approaches of presumptive deeds-based systems to conclusive title-based regimes. The chapter studies implications of such a shift, in terms of the practical realities of land record systems and institutions and analyses attempts being made to enshrine titling legislation in India. The neoliberal impulse is manifested in the tendency to reduce land records to the purely economic and transactional, and the focus on titling and ownership, excluding tenure aspects. In contrast, the chapter also looks at the more meaningful incremental efforts to set up more comprehensive and accurate land records systems and processes, including with the use of technology, to enable a more readily accessible land record linked in real time, accessible to all citizens, rather than top-down measures of title legislation. In doing so, the chapter distinguishes the State’s modernising impulse of computerising and digitising land records from the neoliberal impulse of focusing on title legislation based on the Torrens model, to the exclusion of other systemic issues.