Hyderabad: On October 29, Telangana government launched its new Integrated Land Records Management System or Dharani Portal for the registration of property amid concerns raised from several quarters. The Telangana High Court is hearing a set of public interest litigations challenging the registration process using Dharani, while experts point out scope for irregularities in using the portal, with some suggesting that the process must be put on hold.
Dharani was launched as part of the state’s new revenue act – The Telangana Rights in Land and Pattadar Pass Books Act, 2020. The move, according to Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao, will put an end to corruption in property transactions.
As of now, registration and mutation of land transactions of agricultural land through Dharani is underway, even as uncertainty persists over non-agriculture land transactions.
“The current legislation and the registration process have no space for appeals if there are problems arising out of the Dharani process. There is no provision for appeals in the revenue act and there is a lack of clarity for grievances and an absolute absence of redressal mechanisms regarding errors or any issues that are likely to pop up during digitisation,” said Kiran Chandra, General Secretary of the Free Software Movement in India.
The Dharani Portal has been used on an experimental basis in a few districts over the past two years, reportedly causing posing problems for farmers.
Digitisation of land records was first attempted in Hyderabad in 1998 with the Computer Aided Registration of Deeds (CARD) project which was funded by the World Bank. However, the project was a failure.
This revenue act alone is not the solution for land-related problems, said Professor K. Nageshwar Rao, former MLC and a political analyst. He added that the state must undertake a land survey as soon as possible.
“At a time when the data protection bill is still pending in the parliament, Telangana's revenue act allows sharing of data with credit agencies to provide loans to farmers. This is happening without any regard for people’s right to privacy and ignoring their consent for sharing their data. These need to be ideally disclosed in the law and subsequent rules and regulations,” said Kiran Chandra.
“The government intends to store all land records using the block chain part of the Dharani portal. There is no clarity on this and with no rules on blockchain, digitisation-induced input errors can potentially cause permanent property loss or increase litigation. While the set goal of eradicating corruption in land registration is laudable, technology by itself will not solve this problem without public on-boarding and consultations. Handing over the linked data to credit agencies gives rise to the possibility of new kinds of usury and will adversely affect the common people. The government should put this process on hold through the Dharani Portal until rules and procedures are clearly laid out,” said Chandra.
Earlier, on November 4, the Telangana High Court directed the state government to stop collecting and uploading any data pertaining to non-agricultural properties of individuals onto the portal. The court also said that the government could not insist that people furnish Aadhaar and caste details for the registration of properties.
The court further directed the state government to not share any information on Dharani to third parties. It said this while hearing two separate PILs filed by advocates Gopal Sharma and Saketh Kasibhatla and a writ petition filed by K. Anand Kumar which challenged the legal validity of the exercise.