Land Registration vs. Land Mutation
July 24, 2018 In LAND GOVERNANCEPurchase or sale of land/home/plot is an important decision, for land as a unique immovable asset, has wide-ranging impacts on livelihoods and economic/industrial/social growth. In India, the establishment of land ownership is primarily through a registered deed and the other documents such as the Record of Rights (RoR), property tax receipts, and survey documents are not always fully updated and/or referred, thus continuing with the age old presumptive system of land titling. However, to understand the necessary due diligence behind land transactions we need to understand the two major procedures – Land Registration and Land Mutation. Land Registration process implies the legal endorsement of the final agreement between the two willing parties i.e. the buyer and the seller in case of a sale deed registration. In a typical framework,once the deed has been signed and handed over, it means that the property buyer, on whose name the property is now registered, is now the rightful owner of the property and is solely responsible for it in all aspects. However, true ownership cannot be contested till the other land records such as RORs are nor updated. In an ideal scenario once, the property has been registered at the Sub-Registrar’s Office, the buyer needs to get the title of the property updated to his/her name in the local revenue office (i.e. municipality/panchayat office). This second step is known as the Mutation process and once the details of the property have been updated in the revenue records, henceforth, the new owner has complete legal rights on the property and will be able to de-risk himself/ herself from any litigation case. Land Registration and Land mutation are two separate processes in the current Indian land management system, owing to the fact that Land Records and Land Registrations are managed by two separate departments that function parallelly and not in tandem with each other. Hence, Land Mutation is important to ensure, that post Registration function, the corresponding Land Records are updated and ownership is rightfully transferred. Ideally Land Mutation should be an extended function of Registration and should be auto-triggered to ensure that there are no gaps and delays in the updating of Land Records. Land Mutation is often ignored and/or delayed due to multiple reasons, firstly, one key aspect is that most people are not aware of the due necessity of ‘why mutation is required?’. Secondly, since this is a separate process involving time and money, people choose to ignore it intentionally, not realizing that this may lead to litigation and disputes later. Lastly a major contributory factor of attrition, is the technological challenge arising from the fact that the process of updating Land Records is not proportionally in pace with the registration transactions, thus, leading to delays in the process. A suggested solution which some of the states have already initiated, is an online integration system between the two functions facilitating an automatic mutation with ease of operations to the citizen and at the same time ensuring a decrease in land litigation cases. Until the implementation of such measures on a unified national scale, buyers need to be careful about registration and due mutation of land assets, as the law otherwise does not recognize unregistered owners and does not give them any rights over the property, irrespective of legitimate transactions being made.