The system of registration of document was first introduced in the country in the Presidency of Bengal including the Mufassil by Regulation 36 of 1793. Under this, registration was only optional. But certain cases of documents, if registered, were accorded preference. Nine years later the two other presidencies followed suit. They were Bombay with Regulation 4 of 1802 and Madras with regulation 12 of 1802. The material provisions of both were identical with the regulation of Bengal. Act 16 of 1864 stands out as a landmark in the history of the law of registration. It was the first comprehensive registration on this subject by the Centre. It set the broad pattern, which these later statutes have followed. It introduced for the first time the system of compulsory registration of documents. The next two enactments Act 20 of 1866 and Act 8 of 1871 did not bring about any important charges. The important innovation introduced by Act 3 of 1877 was the extension of preference to compulsory registration documents including leases. The Registration Act XVI of 1908 was extended to the whole of India except the State of Jammu and Kashmir.
Registration Department, Government of Bihar
The object of Registration Act is to provide not only a guarantee of the genuineness of the instrument but also a record from which a person who may desire to enter into dealings with respect to the property may be able to obtain information as to the title. Registration is mainly designed for the purpose of giving legitimacy to the deed. The most important thing about registration system is that it provides safeguard against fabrication of document of title from time to time and to check fraud and forgery.
The history of the system of registration in Bihar is as old as of Presidency of Bengal. At present there are 111 registration offices located at different places of Bihar functioning under the Registration Department, out of which 38 offices are at district headquarters headed by District Registrars. District Sub-Registrars/ Sub-registrars, who discharge all the duties of the district Registrar except to hear appeal against his own orders, head 73 offices at sub-district level. The administrative responsibilities of department are Registration Act, 1908, Indian Stamp Act, 1899, Societies Registration Act 1960, Partnership Act, 1932, Special Marriage Act, 1954, Birth, Death and Marriage Registration Act 1886, Bengal Mohammedan Marriage & Divorce Registration Act, 1876, Quazis Act, 1880, Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act, 1936, and Indian Christian Marriage Act, 1872.
Main functions of the department includes registration of all type of Instruments, administration of the duties related to Stamp and Stamp Duty including Court fees stamp, Registration of Societies and Partnership firms etc. The department earns the second position in revenue collection in the State. The sources for the revenue are Stamp duty, Registration fees and Court fees.
Implications of manual registration
The manual registration process had its own complications and time requirements. The deeds are generally written by deed writers in different offices, which take at least an hour to prepare. The introduction of duplicate system consumes another one hour. Then the deed is presented before the concerned Registering Officer. The Stamp duty is checked by some clerk and registration fee is revised by another. Then the document is again placed before the Registering Officer. The Executant comes and admits his execution. Then the document with serial no and deed no. is entered into different fee books and total collection is entered as receipt of the day in the cash book. Generally, the entire proceed of fee collected is deposited in the bank next day. Then the document is copied down in appropriate Register books, indexed and returned to the parties after final endorsement.
The process at a glance seems very simple and effective. But, in practice, the system of manually copying of deeds in the registers has completely collapsed and utterly failed. There are about 20-25 lakhs of documents still to be copied across Bihar. The backlog is about 7 to 8 years. An Executant who presented his document in 1998 would probably get back in 2005-2008. Some of the manually copied Register books at district headquarters are as old as 100 to 150 years. The papers of the Register books have lost their potency. The valuable records of public utility are decaying day by day. This may lead to innumerable litigations in future.
Study divulged the facts and issues that are most significant with the manual way of registration of deeds are assessment and valuation of the property, calculation of stamp duty and fees, recording of the property in the registers, search and copy, issue of encumbrance certificate, archival of records etc.
After User Requirement Analysis (URA) it was proposed that entire working (business rules) of the registration offices should be computerised adopting BPR (Business Process Reengineering). The stamp duty, fees, valuation of the properly under transaction should be scrutinised within 5 minutes, which takes 4 to 5 hours manually. Similarly, doing all formalities under the rules the data pertaining to deed will be captured in the form of databases on computer. The photos and fingerprint impressions of the party will be taken through devices. The whole contents of the deed should be captured through scanner and three copies of the CD-ROM disc with the contents of the deeds shall be kept in three different safe places as permanent records. Then the original deeds would be returned to the party the same day of presentation. The system also has to have a database of market value of all the plots/properties in the area in sufficient details. So that checking of the document as to the correctness of the valuation and stamp affixed, which is done manually at present, will be done electronically to make it faster and remove subjective description. The whole process of presentation till final delivery of registered deed to the party should be completed within 20 to 25 minutes.
The department desires that the old records copied in the register, which take up huge storage space and their permanency is doubtful, are transferred into electronic/digital form and stored on hard disks/CD-ROM. The system should be such that its hard copy can be taken on A4 size paper.
Analysis shows that out of 65 types of major instruments, 40 important instruments which are coming frequently for registration like Sale, Gift, Mortgage, Le-ase, Settlement, Partition, Transfer of Le-ase, Exchange, Will, Trust, Power of Attor-ney, Cancellation, Agreement, Adoption, Partnership etc. are taken on the priority.
SCORE (System for COmputerised REgistration) has been designed and developed by National Informatics Centre Bihar Centre, which is under the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, Government of India, with a sole objective to provide one-stop non-stop online registration of deeds blended with task accountability as well as process transparency. SCORE has been a user-friendly software package designed on the Windows based clients/ server technology. The database has been on ORACLE8i and the front-end application is on D2K with security feature like user-id, password along with roles and privileges. The features of the SCORE are online capture of details of a Deed, identifier, auto-valuation of the property(s) based on the Minimum Value (MVR) requisite criteria, auto-calculation of required stamp duty, additional Stamp duty, registration and other fees, Photo captures of parties, identifier, fingerprints capture of parties and identifier, generation and printing of all endorsements, receipt, memo of presentation and final registration endorsement in Hindi. Lastly, scanning of the deed is done to mark the completion of registration process. Every deed bears a unique token number as a combination of running number and year. All registered deeds allotted a running serial number and book wise deed number.
The Registration Offices keep various registers, books and indexes for meeting the subsequent queries and legal contingencies. SCORE facilitates generation of all registers like daily as well as consolidated fee book, Index I, Index II, Index III, Index IV, Fingerprint register, day-wise registered and not registered deeds as the Back Office computerisation.
SCORE facilitates the online registration of deeds thus bringing reforms in the business, which has not only helped the Registration offices in record keeping, search and copy, EC, but also acted as an online instantaneous help desk for public in exactly evaluating their properties in terms of required stamp duty, registration fees and requisite enclosures. The monotonous jobs like maintaining so many registers for these documents have been taken care by the SCORE Back Office computerisation.
The Registration Department of the Government of Bihar has evolved two models for SCORE implementation. One is by BOOT (Build, Own, Operate, Transfer) model and the other Hardware On Hire Basis (HOHB) model. The pilot implementation of the project started keeping in view the RoI (Return on Investment) and efficacy of the chosen models at Patna– the state capital where the average load of deed registration is around 80 selected on BOOT, and Muzaffarpur – an important district of Bihar where on an average load of deed registration is around 135 is identified for Hire-basis. Despite having their own pros and cons, both succeeded with expected initial hurdles. The ultimate analysis considering the facts emerged by RoI and self sustainability of the project, it was decided that the statewide implementation of the SCORE project would be more effective on the model of HOHB contrary to BOOT as it is not only cost effective, productive, acceptable, but above all suits to the vision and mission of the authorities of the department seeing the forthcoming 3-5 years of plans.
Initially, SCORE has been implemented at Registration Office, Patna, as a pilot project. Ever since the inauguration of the SCORE project the manual registration has completely stopped. The success story of SCORE has been replicated to other district level Registration offices like Muzaffarpur, Hajipur, and Sub-Registry Office, Danapur, adopting HOHB model.
To meet the expenses that will be incurred on HOHB model, the people have to pay at the rate Rs. 20 per side per page, and is deposited in an Escrow Account. This amount would also be reduced gradually after having a break-even analysis of RoI. Thus, there would be a saving of 92% of the income that is generated through service (Escrow) charge generated in terms of @Rs. 20 per page per side. Similarly, crores of rupees would be saved when the balance amount of 111 Registration offices are calculated upon becoming operational. The balance amount left over can be used in proper infrastructure creation, maintenance of hardware in future, conveyance required in implementation, employee incentives for motivation, training etc.
In order to execute the project on HOHB, Registration Department of the Government of Bihar has made State Level BISCORE Society and District level BISCORE Societies, which are responsible for the effective Escrow Fund Management in the interest of the offices and State.
Till date, it has been reported that 65 Registry offices including District Registration offices and Sub-Registry offices have been made SCORE-enabled. Seeing the efficacy of SCORE, the Registration Department of the Government of Bihar has decided to quickly make rest of registration offices SCORE-enable. It is being implemented in a phased manner. Hopefully, it is expected that entire Registry offices would be SCORE-enabled within a month or so.