Registration to document changes in ownership and transactions involving immovable property is governed by the Indian Stamp Act of 1899. Deeds of various kinds are required by law to be written on stamp paper of prescribed value. Certain transactions require a fixed duty. Registration is carried out at an office. In Andhra Pradesh, there are more than a million documents per year that need registration. The process of registartion is a very complex procedure that requires 11 steps and thus is very time consuming. Moreover a heirarchy of officers are required for the same.
This manual registration system generated a number of important drawbacks. Most importantly:
- Lack of transparency in valuation: The basic value registers usually were not accessible to the public, and even if they were, it was difficult for a common citizen to read them and calculate the amount of various transaction fees during the registration. All this results in a host of corrupt practices and a flourishing business of brokers and middlemen who exploit the confusion surrounding the registration process.
- Tedious back office functions: Conventional manual methods of copying, indexing and retrieving documents are laborious, time consuming, and prone to errors and manipulations. Thus, a premium is often paid for speedy delivery of services.
- Difficulties in preserving documents: The registers occupy a lot of physical space, usually in ill-maintained backrooms. They also deteriorate with age and repeated handling.
The Computer aided Administration of Registration Department (CARD) is designed to eliminate the maladies affecting the conventional registration system by introducing electronic delivery of all registration services. CARD was initiated to meet the following key objectives:
- Demystify the registration process
- Bring speed, efficiency, consistency and reliability
- substantially improve the citizen interface
These goals were to be achieved by:
Introducing a transparent system of valuation of properties, easily accessible to citizens.
Replacing the manual system of copying and filing of documents with a sophisticated document management system using imaging technology
- Replacing the manual system of indexing, accounting and reporting through the introduction of electronic document writing.
Since 60% of the documents and certified copies relate to agricultural properties, the success of the CARD project would greatly benefit the rural farming community. Agriculturists would also benefit from a possible link-up of the CARD network with the rural bank network, which would enhance the efficiencies of the rural credit services by eliminating the need for paper-based procedures.
Benefits and Costs
Six months following the launch of the CARD project, about 80% of all land registration transactions in AP were carried out electronically.
The time required for services such as valuation of property and provision of certified copies of registered documents now takes 10 minutes instead of a few days as under the earlier system. ECs are now issued to citizens in a span of 5 minutes, using a system that searches through more than 15 years of records from over 50 offices. Land registration can be completed in a few hours, whereas earlier it took 7-15 days.
After factoring out the natural upward trend in nominal revenues, the CARD system has generated a modest increase in revenue. The growth rate in net revenue collected has gone up by almost 20%.
The main advantage of this system has been the awareness in rural public towards the benefits of ICT in important activites and so the pubic is demanding for more such projects at the rural level.
The main disadvantage of the system has been the decrease in employment due to the loss in enforcement power.