A landmark decision on land records

11 November, 2020 12:00 AM printer

The government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Monday took a very important decision on streamlining the country’s cumbersome land record procedures, aiming to make the entire process easier, faster, and corruption and hassle-free. This is not only welcome but the government deserves our thanks for taking this time-befitting initiative.

Once the new system is fully implemented, which is already in place in 17 upazilas and expected to be employed nationwide within a year, land mutation will be automatically completed online through a software within eight days of registration.

As land registration and mutation are done under two separate ministries (law and land ministries respectively), the entire process is fraught with unease, inordinate delays, and corrupt practices. Allegation has it that people have to bribe a section of corrupt officials in every step of getting land-related services.

Moreover, under the existing system Sub-Registry office carry out land registration without checking the status of the land with the AC land office. As a result, complexities often arise over the ownership of land, which ultimately ends up in legal battles. According to a study of TIB, as many as 18 lakh pending civil cases are related to land.

Add to this are clash and even murder over land, land mafias evict original owners from their land, banks find it difficult to give loans or enforce collateral, and buyers sometimes end up investing in fraudulent property project. Therefore, the economic and social costs of lack of proper land records are too grave to be ignored.

Therefore, the new system which aims to bridge the two offices through an interoperability software raises our hope. From now on, if someone wants to get a piece of land registered in his/her name, s/he will have to submit two copies of the deed to AC land and sub-registrar's offices. Previously, a landowner had to submit one copy of the deed to the sub-registrar’s office and sub-registrars used to complete the registration process immediately. But now sub-registrars will have to wait for green signal from AC land office before registration. And since that AC land office will scrutinise the status of the record of rights before registration, they will be mandated to initiate the mutation process simultaneously and complete the process within eight days.

If all goes well, it will bring out a radical change in the country’s land record system, but we must remain alert so that corrupt officials cannot disrupt digital interventions as it will narrow their scope of taking kickbacks.