M A I N   N E W S

Sonia wants stamp papers abolished
Writes to Prime Minister
T R Ramachandran
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 2
Chairperson of UPA’s National Advisory Council (NAC) Sonia Gandhi has urged the Manmohan Singh government to modernise land records and eliminate stamp papers in the registration of land property titles to end the fake stamps in circulation.

In a pointed reference to the pledges contained in the National Common Minimum Programme (NCMP), Mrs Gandhi drew Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s attention to a 25-point plan prepared by the NAC for Comprehensive Modernisation of Land Records (CMLR) under which the Centre can provide 100 per cent grants to the State Governments for a speedy switchover.

In a detailed communication to Dr Singh recently, the NAC chairperson observed that all land records once updated and corrected can be put on the Internet and multiple agencies currently involved with the preparation of records of Title, Rights and Registration be merged into a single integrated agency. This agency should be responsible for continuously updating land records by using modern technology to fight corruption and reduce disputes.

The exhaustive note prepared by the NAC maintains that the “existence of multiple agencies like the Survey Department, the Revenue Department and the Registration Department compromises the update of land records.”

It emphasises that “a system to establish clear titles to land, update and computerisation of land records providing easy and economic access to rural people to land records will be of allround benefit to the farmers encompassing easier credit, quicker land conversions and lesser litigation.”

The note is categoric that “the use of stamp paper should be eliminated as these cause huge annual losses to the state governments with the unchecked circulation of fake stamp paper. Citizens my pay registration or stamp duty fees at designated public sector banks and post offices so that corruption is reduced and electronic receipts are issued.”

In its recommendations on the modernisation of revenue administration, the NAC note desires that mutations should precede registration of any land transaction by way of sale, partition, gift or mortgage rather than the other way around as practised presently resulting in buyers being cheated in a very large number of cases. The proposed new scheme envisges that the Sub-Registrar gets the documents of transaction verified with reference to land records before registering it.

Contending that the manual preparation of land records by existing survey and settlement organisations have failed, the NAC wants the Congress-led UPA government to “combine computer technology with privatisation to obtain accurate surveys, translate them into correct land records and ensure free access of such records to all concerned.”

Further, the NAC note believes that the states may not have any incentive to adopt the new scheme unless it is 100 per cent centrally funded. It suggests that the scheme should be broken down in phases for implementation whereby funds are released in instalments on completion of each phase.

Mrs Gandhi is of the opinion that Parliament should enact a model law and to have this implemented by the states the Centre might have to provide additional incentive above the 100 per cent grants for the CMLR to enact similar laws.

Interestingly, the NAC has drawn up its own plan of action even as the committee of secretaries and the Planning Commission are still grappling with drawing up a road map for implementing the promises contained in the NCMP.

In the introduction of its note, the NAC states that a very large percentage of people live in the rural areas and derive livelihood from the land.

“Therefore, the compilation and upgradation of land records is particularly significant to instil a sense of security in the farming community and encourage investments for higher land productivity especially in the establishment of clear titles to land,” the NAC note added.

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