One nation one software

Context: National Generic Document Registration System can be helpful in dealing with the land records related issues.

The Constitution of India is imbued with a federal vision. The 7th Schedule provides for 3 lists:

  1. “Union List” – defines the area of work for the Union government.
  2. “Concurrent List” – here both Union and State can make laws. However, the Constitution gives primacy to the Union.
  3. “State List”, where legislative powers lie with the state governments, and the role for the Union is only one of giving advice and money.

These lists are created based on the “subsidiarity principle”, which asserts that every task of the state should be done at the lowest possible level of government. At the same time, as one nation, a certain degree of uniformity assists economic modernization, helps connect globalization, and harnesses economies of scale.

Issues with “Land” as a subject:

Land is the most important asset class in all countries. Better economic efficiency in the use of land will yield big gains in GDP. Despite this, there are issues in land management in India. Such as:

  1. Poor land records (State Subject): The information with the government suffers from data quality issues, a backlog of contested claims, and lack of integration/consistency across multiple departments of local government.

To deal with this, The Union Government launched the (Digital India) Land Record Modernisation Programme (DI-LRMP) in 2008, with a view to augmenting resourcing into computerising land records, integrating registration with the land records maintenance system, and integrating textual and spatial data.

2. Presently, there is a tricky mix of a state subject (land) with a concurrent subject (registering property deeds). The Registration Act, 1908 – is the primary one on the subject of registering documents. As this is on the Concurrent List, there are many state-specific amendments to this Act.

To deal with this, the National Generic Document Registration System (NGDRS) was launched in 2016 under the umbrella of DI-LRMP.

Benefits of NGDRS:

  1. It is a generic, scalable, and flexible software that links all the stakeholders in the registration process. Its design allows states to configure the software to local needs/requirements.
  2. It can link land records databases to financial institutions, revenue offices, income tax, the Unique Identification Authority of India, etc., thus bringing a new level of transparency to land holdings.
  3. It facilitates swift registration and delivery of documents.
  4. It has many features to accommodate state-specific requirements, including a database of properties that are restricted for transfer, like tribal land, government land and mortgaged land.

These are important developments in the field of land. Policymakers at the city and state levels, and the Union government, need to continue to think and innovate in this difficult field. Alongside the objective of achieving frictionless transactions and reducing disputes, focus should also be on data privacy.

Source: This post is created based on the article “One nation one software” published in Business Standard on 22nd March 2022.

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