December 2013

Simplifying transactions through Information Technology

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“The presence of a multiplicity of vending agencies ensures that stamps are available easily and the need for cash transactions is eliminated. In eight districts we have already introduced e-stamping, which will soon be extended to all other districts of Uttar Pradesh,” says Alok Kumar

Many new initiatives have been taken by the Department of Registration & Stamps to make it more convenient for people to get their work done. Please provide us with an overview of the work being done by the department in Uttar Pradesh?
The essential service provided by the Department of Registration & Stamps is to allow the citizens to maintain a record of their transactions, be it sale of property, lease agreement, power of attorney, etc. The record is then stored till eternity so that it can be retrieved if there is any dispute between the parties who are stakeholders in the document. Currently we are registering approximately 30 lakh documents per annum. This means that we are servicing close to two crore of people every year. In a typical transaction there will be a buyer, there will be a seller, there will be two witnesses and there will be the lawyers from either side. On an average, if you assume that there are 6 to 7 people involved in every transaction, then you realise that approximately one crore and eighty lakh people are coming every year to the registration offices located in the state. Currently we are having 354 offices spread across 75 districts of Uttar Pradesh.

Common Issues facing the current systems

  • Decentralized operations based on jurisdiction areas
  • All SROs are islands of information due to local standalone databases
  • Public information like index registers (property details), Encumbrance certificate, certified copies available only at jurisdictional SRO – No alternate access
  • Unavailability of Market Value Data leading to loss of revenue to the dept.
  • Cumbersome process of Stamps Storage & Distribution with chances of pilferage/ forgery of Stamp Papers
  • Real time sharing of data not possible even within department
  • Manual Reporting prone to delays and errors
  • Record rooms completely manual; overflowing and runs risk of being permanently damaged
  • No provisioning for Digitization & Scanning of documents

What are the main objectives of the department?
The Department of Registration & Stamps is the one of the major revenue generating departments for the state of Uttar Pradesh. Our main purpose is to facilitate documentation, registration and maintaining records of such transaction for eternity. If any document is called to dispute in the court of law then our people will testify whether this document is genuinely registered document or non-registered document. If it is a registered document, then the contents of that will have a legal sanctity, which an unregistered document would not have. So it is our task to provide the necessary evidence to the fact that any XYZ transaction did take place between Parties A and Parties B, in presence of witness C and D. We have the copy of all registered documents in our own archives. At anytime, if the court desires, the same document can be produced to verify the sanctity of the document. The e-Services being launched by the Department of Registration & Stamps will lead to immense benefit to both, the public and the government.

The aim of the Computerisation in the Department of Registration & Stamps

  • Simplifying the process of Registration of documents
  • Speedy return of documents to the public
  • Speedy issue of Encumbrance Certificates and Certified copy of the documents
  • Improvement of efficiency in the department
  • Accountability and Transparency in the functions of the department
  • Built-in market value intelligence
  • Issue of Encumbrance Certificates from any Sub-Registrar Office
  • Registration from any Sub-Registrar Office

As you said, close to one crore and eighty lakh people come to registration office every year.This is a massive footfall. Are you taking some e-Governance initiatives to allow people to manage at least some part of the registration work remotely?
There are different aspects of the registration process that people need to follow in case of every property transaction. The first thing is identification of the property that can be bought by someone and sold by someone. Now this is beyond the domain of the department, as it depends of the mutual consent of the buyer and the seller. Once the buyer and the seller reach an agreement, they can start the process of valuing the property. Today the property valuation is generally done on the basis of the rate list decided by the collector. It is important for a layman to be able to know instantly what should be the right value of any given property. Ideally the relevant information should be available on the Internet, but it is not the case as of now. The valuation of the property enables you to know what kind of stamp duty and registration fees you have to pay. When it comes to stamps you have to go to the treasury or the licensed stamp vendors to procure the stamp paper, on which to record the contours of the transaction, usually through a deed writer, and present it to the sub-registrar for registration. Here you have to pay the registration fees in cash. Your document is registered, scanned and photocopied and the original is returned to you after the registration. Hence there are three processes involved – writing of deeds, which is a specialised task being done by the lawyers and the writers, the obtaining of stamps and the process of registration. We are keen to bring more efficiency into all three processes. To bring transparency and ensure that stamps are available easily, we have started the system of e-stamping in eight districts. Gradually e-stamping will be extended to all other districts. Now the thing is that if you have to pay a stamp duty of let’s say 20 lakh rupees, then you have to carry that much cash with you, which is quite inconvenient and risky. So we have started the system through which you can simply go to anyone of our authorised bank branches and make the transfer through RTGS. We are also creating sample deeds, in which you only need to fill up the names of the buyer, seller, witnesses and the description of the property. These sample deeds will soon be made available on our website and can be downloaded free from there.

In most property transactions, the buyer would need to inspect the old documents related to the property he is paying for. What steps are you taking to bring transparency in that process?
Before buying a property, you will want to see the transactions that have taken place in the last twelve years to ensure that the property is free of any encumbrance, or it is not mortgaged with any bank or lender. If someone applies for a non-encumbrance certificate on any particular property, he may have to wait too long for getting it, as the manual search process is quite long. So we are developing a system by which the necessary information will become available to the public through an online process. A data centre is being set up, which will be connected to all our offices in the state to facilitate the online search. In future the index register can even be put online, so that you don’t even need to come to the office for making a search. We are also starting the system of making digitally certified copies that can be accepted in the court.

If all the sub-registrar offices get interconnected, then can it also lead to the development of a system of anywhere registration?
Yes, that is going to happen eventually. Once the sub-registrar offices get interconnected through use of technology, people can register their property with any sub-registrar in the state. The monopoly of a sub-registrar over any particular jurisdiction will end, as you will then have at least 6 or 7 sub-registrars concurrently having jurisdiction over the same area. Once the backend database is complete, it will be possible for us to launch the system of anywhere registration.

How much time do you think will it take to implement all these new initiatives that you are planning?
We are working at quite a fast pace to implement all these initiatives. The financing of the project is being done partly through National Land Records Modernization Programme, and also through funds from the Ministry of Information Technology. So the necessary finances are already in place. In my opinion, the necessary hardware and the software should be in place by May next year. However, the digitisation of the legacy data will take some more time. There is large amount of data that needs to be digitised, so what we will do is that we will start by digitising the data in areas where Internet usage is already high and there is more demand for digital services, and slowly we will move towards digitising data in areas where there is low Internet penetration.

Benefits of Fully Centralized & Integrated System
• Anywhere Registration
• Digitally Signed Copies of
Documents
• Automatic request for mutation
(Transfer of Rights)
• Land Record Integration
• Local Body Integration
• Banks Interface
• Treasury Integration
• High Tech Front offices

Can you tell us about the main challenges that you are facing in the execution of this large project?
Challenges will be there in whatever you do, but you have to find solution to the challenges that are there and move ahead. In this case, the challenges are there mainly because we have to deal with many stakeholders. The citizen is one stakeholder. The lawyers and the deed writers are another stakeholder, many of them may not like the idea of decentralisation and other reforms, as they are of the opinion that with these steps their livelihood will be threatened. The stamp vendors can feel threatened because they can be of the notion that once e-stamping is in place, they will lose their livelihood. But this is not true, because all they need to do is invest in laptops, printers and Internet connection, for accessing the server for issuing stamps on our behalf. There is a provision in the e-stamping policy that the vendors can become authorised collection centres. As the interests of so many stakeholders are involved, we have to go about implementing all the changes in a slow and gradual manner.

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