Land administration is an important function of the government and land records information forms a valuable asset for governance. The land administration system in India has been a complicated structure due to issues of transparency and corrupt practices. The Digital India Land Records Modernization Programme is implemented to provide citizen-centric services to provide a fair, efficient and transparent system for the computerization of land records and to initiate the digital registration process. The aim of this program is to replace the present manual presumptive land-title system with digital conclusive land titling system. This is an initiative by the Department of Land Resources under the Ministry of Rural Development. The Land Reforms (LR) Division had implemented two Centrally Sponsored Schemes which was later on merged into a centrally sponsored scheme known as National Land Records Modernization Programme (NLRMP). This program was further re-designed and now has been brought under the ‘Digital India’ Scheme.
This program is beneficial for the citizens as well as for the government as it brings efficiency in land revenue administration. It will enhance the utility of cadastral maps relevant to the resent times and will create a database for planning developmental activities, regulatory and disaster management tasks by providing location-specific information while providing citizen services based on land records data. Many states have largely computerized the record of rights and some of them have integrated these records with other departments with added services to the citizens. The ‘Person – Parcel – Pixel’ concept has been evolved under this program wherein citizens have to link their land parcels with the Aadhaar number. The need of having a digital version of land records was felt like the best option to reduce the interface between the government and common citizens while creating a platform where all records are digitized to ensure transparency in the system.
Problem of Poor Maintenance of Land Records
Land ownership is determined through various records such as registered sale deeds under the Registrations Act, property tax documents and government survey records.  Also, the stamp duty fee varies from state to state based on property rates. Therefore, land ownership in India is presumptive which is established only through a registered sale deed. These documents are merely records of the transfer of property maintained with the tehsildars and sub-registrar offices and they are not the government-guaranteed title to the property. The manual land records have been poorly maintained in hand-written format and do not reflect the on-ground position, moreover, the manual records are difficult to maintain as per changing times. Recently the new legislation was introduced in the parliament, the draft Land Titles Bill, 2019, which will shift the land records system from presumptive system to conclusive land titles system. 
System of Conclusive Titling
One of the ultimate objectives of this programme is to shift from presumptive titling to conclusive titling systems, where the state guarantees for such titles. “Conclusive Titles” has four major principles:
- A ‘single agency’ – to have a single agency created as it becomes easier to handle various operations of land records, survey/re-survey and revenue administration.
- The ‘mirror principle’ – which would reflect the ground reality.
- The ‘curtain principle’, whatever has been stated in the record is the true depiction and is not manipulated.
- ‘Title insurance’ – The title guarantee is correct and the part can indemnify for any loss due to inaccuracy. 
The conclusive land titling system will ensure a single agency to handle various operations. It would directly reflect the on-ground reality. It should depict the true record and it cannot be manipulated. Further, title insurance can be indemnified for any loss due to errors in the records.
Stakeholder for Implementing DILRMP
The Department of Land Resources under the Ministry of Rural Development is the key stakeholder in proving financial assistance and for the overall implementation of this program. Further, a Project Sanctioning and Monitoring Committee is set up at the national level under the chairmanship of the secretary of the department of land resources and they are supported by various agencies such as NIC, Forest Survey of India, soil survey, etc. Since land forms a part of the state list as per the Constitution of India, states have an important role in implementing the program. The states have to set up Project Management Units (PMU) to strategize and formulate plans for land records. The states and UT’s will further create its own projects to implement these schemes and training programs for revenue, survey and registration officers for the effective functioning of the subsequent operations regarding authentication of record of rights, mutation of land, mappings and updating land records, surveying/resurveying etc. The district level project monitoring committee is handled by district collectors.
Major Components and Scope under DILRMP
The scope of this program is basically computerization of land records and mutations, computerization of registration process, integration of registration records and land records, digitization of cadastral maps, surveying and resurveying of original records, developing geospatial information systems, and providing training and capacity development. The computerization of the registration process is an important component of DILRMP. The registration process is necessary for the integration of land records with registered data. Earlier, the process involved manual registration of documents with the Sub-Registrar office which often resulted in the misrepresentation of facts. In almost all states, the SRO’s offices are computerized and the verification process is also in computerized form.
The data entry and verification and validation task are conducted by all the states. It is the responsibility of the officials to check the validation and verification of data entered. Any form of mutations to the record of rights is to be updated in a computerized format. As per the DILRMP guidelines, the states can have a cut-off date after which only computerized records of rights can be issued and the issuing of manual records of rights could be banned or not practiced by the states. This programme requires the setting of State level and district level data centers. A computer center is required to maintain the village-wise property records. Further, all the land records from state to tehsil level will be collected through a wide area network. 
The program mandates a digitized form of maps. The Bhu-Naksha Software is developed under this program and is integrated with the respective state government’s website, all the data from the district level of the cadastral maps are linked on the website. This can be viewed by the owners of land property and details of a land acre and ownership of each land parcel is available online. The geo-spatial database has to be maintained by the states in geo-referencing, which is done by associating the physical maps using satellite images. The maps prevalent in the format has to be updated in digital form to facilitate cadastral maps and then synchronized with changes made in the record of rights. Further the digitized cadastral maps have to be checked to know whether it is similar to the textual record of rights. Setting up modern record rooms have to be created for physical storage of any record, indexing of data and images and maps. Computer servers and storage area network needs to be operationalized. In order to implement a conclusive titling system, the states will have to undertake re-surveying using high-resolution satellite imagery systems for identification of location and updating the survey records. States can also promote the practice of liberalized form of Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Model in conducting the task of DILRMP for technical assistance and registration process. To achieve the targets in proper timeframe, certain activities to streamline the implementation task could be carried out by private players. States have the responsibility to conduct a training program for revenue, survey and registration officials for effectively operating the systems. With respect to data security management, the states will have to adopt the ISO or IEC standards.
Benefits to the Citizens
The Digital India Land Records Modernization Programme is a citizen-centric programme creating a platform to help citizens in accessing land records. The major advantage here is the access to computerized copies of Records of Rights, which can be accessed through the websites created by the states. Citizens could access the records without being physically present at the tehsildar’s office. This process will eliminate and reduce interface with the government. In order to get land records, earlier, farmers had to repeatedly visit the tehsil offices, due to the non-availability of officers and corrupt practices. Computerization of land records is a more transparent and hassle-free system. Many states have adopted this practice to provide integrated services to the people at one window to deliver service in a time-bound manner. State and district-level data centers are established for accessing land records. In order to make property transactions efficient, the e-registration process and computerized land records are integrated. Many farmers would get benefitted, since the records of rights are useful in many sectors such as, for delivery of crop insurance to farmers, fertilizer subsidy, etc. Some of the states have provided access to banks in lending and reducing time for sanction of bank loans which has become even more convenient for farmers. Moreover, it will also be beneficial in litigation.
Best Practices under DILRMP
Recently the Minister of Rural Development released the book on ‘Best Practice in DILRMP’. Many of the states and UT such as Chandigarh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Haryana have successfully implemented this program, all major states have finished 90% digitalization process. Since Chandigarh is a Union Territory, it was easy to implement and monitor this scheme directly by the department of land resources and they have initiated the process of conclusive titling system which they have successfully implemented the linking of Aadhar details with property/land through the mobile application. They have also set-up applications for monitoring court cases through Court Case Monitoring Systems (CCMS), which has the integration of court management with land records information systems. Chandigarh has been successful in the abolition of stamp papers and the online registration process.
Maharashtra started its e-registration process in the year 2002, Maharashtra had started registration of documents through the Sarita (Stamp and Registration Information Technology Application) platform. The Maharashtra e-registration Rules, 2013 have also been framed accordingly. The applicant has to apply for the e-registration process of land registration on ‘www.igrmaharashtra.gov.in’. Maharashtra government has launched ‘MahaBhulekha’ that provides 7/12 extract online application, as well as digital records along with indications on cadastral maps, are made available to citizens.
Haryana state has made Haryana Space Application Centre (HARSAC) as the nodal agency for land digitization Model which is based on accurate geo-referencing of planetary data. This is done to reduce any form of field visits and for surveying Haryana’s land record system prevalent since the Mughal period. The basic map for identification and location of ownership of land as per the village area is called ‘Mussavi’ in the local language. The process involves scanning and digitization of mussavi’s and cadastral maps, correcting maps using higher resolution and satellite data using photo-geometric process and developing documents management systems. Digitized mussavi’s are then matched with records of rights and are then updated.
Andhra Pradesh had started the Mee- Seva software in order to reduce Benami transactions and for computerization of land records in Andhra Pradesh. It is an integrated service that is available in the online form to provide convenient access to citizens. ‘Aadhar seeding’ is also one such project which has decided to insert the Aadhar number of each Pattadar in the software for identifying genuine pattadars for issuing loans and government schemes. 
Karnataka started with the Bhoomi project which was integrated with Kaveri software. This was the state which faced problems with respect to a manual record of rights, tenancy and crops which could be tampered or destroyed leading to harassment of farmers. The state has banned any form of manual issuance of record of rights. Any form of mutation request can be issued in a kiosk. Further, Kaveri software has been developed for the registration process and it uses the Bhoomi database during the registration process. Only the owner whose data is available in Bhoomi can transfer the rights. The mutation transaction is initiated automatically with the integration of the Bhoomi project with the Kaveri software. After integration, credit to financial institutions are entered without fail since all the documents are recorded in Bhoomi records. This process has considerably reduced litigation and has increased benefits to farmers. 
Sample Records of 7/12 Extract (RoR)
The 7/12 extract is the ownership details of the piece of land maintained with the revenue department of the government of Maharashtra. In Maharashtra, it is governed under Maharashtra Land Revenue Code, 1966 under section 149-159 of the Act. These forms are maintained under the Maharashtra Land Revenue Record of Rights and Registers (preparation and maintenance) Rules, 1971. The extract consists of the name of the owners, mutation number is indicated in case change in ownership takes place, cultivable land, non-cultivable land, the loan is taken over that land, survey number, all are indicated. The upper portion of the extract is village form – 7 which consists of ownership details, whereas the lower portion of the form is village form – 12 which tells us which crops are grown in the cultivable land. Now online application or registration is also available at the state government’s website (Maha-Bhumiabhilekh). All the records of 7/12 extract is available in digital format.
The Digital India Land Records Modernization Programme will certainly bring efficiency in the management of land records and will minimize the scope of land or property disputes. Since this model proposes shift from a presumptive titling structure to a conclusive titling system, it will ensure state-guaranteed land title to the owners of the land. This program will bring transparency and eliminate corrupt practices by reducing the interface between the citizens and government. It will provide the real-time records with proper security of ownership details while maintaining information confidential. In order to implement this program successfully, support from legal, administrative, logistics would be required to bring efficiency in the administration process.