DIGITISATION OF LAND RECORD AND BENAMI TRANSACTIONS
– Paramjeet Kaur
A Benami transaction is one where a property is held or transferred to a person but has been provided for or paid by another person. The white paper on blank money in the year 2012 had noted that black money generated in the country gets invested in Benami Properties. The Standing Committee of Finance 2015, noted that generation of black money through Benami transaction can be pre-empted and eliminated by Digitization of land record and their regular updation. Most of the Benami properties fall under the category of immovable property and thus the digitization of land records may go long way in detecting and preventing Benami transaction. Land is a valuable asset. It is imperishable and its value depends upon various factors. However, the land titles in India are unclear on account of various factors such as the Zamidari System, Manual Land Records, intricate issues of devolution of property and demarcation. This has proved to be biggest obstacle in implementation of the laws relating to Benami transaction.
Digitization of land record is significant because majority of land holding in the country have no record of ownership and there is no formal mechanism to verify the land titles. Large chunk of cases in the Courts today are about dispute over land titles and fraud pertaining to property. Under the Government Digital India Land Record Modernization Program registration of land, cadastral map and land records have been completely computerized in more than 90% of States.
Well there are hiccups in the systems which are being streamlined. Good land record system is necessary for harmonious and progressive system. As part of Digital India Land Records Modernization Program the Central Government intends to create the Aadhaar like unique identification for each land parcel in the country. The initiative envisages unique land parcel identification number will assign a geo referenced 14 digit alphanumeric Unique Land Parcel Identification Number (ULPIN) for each land parcel surveyed in the country.
ULPIN has already been launched in 11 states and the Central intends to do a country wide roll out by March, 2022. This is in addition to the provision Digitization steps taken by Digital India Land Records Modernization Programme. ULPIN is expected to further contribute towards larger goal of creating an integrated land Information Management System that is expected to improve time information and technical support from the Department of Land Resource. The following benefit will accrue to the citizens on account of Digitization of land records:-
- Real time land ownership record will be available to citizen since the record will be placed on website with proper scrutiny and property owners will have free access to their records. It will also ensure an automatic and automated mutation on account of change of land ownership which will significantly reduce the scope of fraudulent property deals.
- The Citizens shall have access to certificate based on land data through computers.
- The clear and conclusive title will also significantly reduce litigation and the records will be difficult to tamper with.
- There will be free accessibility to the records which will reduce interface between the citizens and the government functionaries with the use of IT inter linkages.
Co-relation between Digitization of land record and Benami Transactions
On digitization of land record and its further integration with the enforcement authorities it will be easy to detect Benami transactions since each property/land parcel would have unique identification number which is linked to the Aadhaar and PAN Number of the owner. The Enforcement Agencies will be able to detect dubious nature of transactions and probe further in case of doubtful transactions. One of the biggest sources to expend black money is the real estate. Once this channel is blocked it will have a significant impact on the generation of black money. It will also help in detecting and thereafter confiscating Benami properties taking away the fruit of illegal activities from the offenders. This in turn will deter the potential offenders.
Digitization of land records and its further integration with the other unique identification such as PAN and Aadhaar of the citizen will go a long way in eradicating Benami transactions. It will block the major investment channel of black money and proceeds of crime. It will ensure clean governance and would check the arbitrary rise in prices of land. In the result the common man will benefit and the constitutional goal of socio- economic justice shall be achieved.
 Research Scholar, Panjab University, Chandigarh
 White Paper on Black Money, available at: https://prsindia.org/policy/report-summaries/white-paper-black-money : White Paper on Black Money (Last Modified July 25, 2021).
 Standing Committee On Finance (2015-16) Sixteenth Lok Sabha Ministry Of Finance (Department Of Revenue) The Benami Transactions Prohibition (Amendment) Bill, 2015 Twenty-Eighth Report, April, 2016.
 Indian courts clogged with land disputes because laws keep conflicting each other, available at: https://theprint.in/opinion/indian-courts-clogged-with-land-disputes-because-laws-keep-conflicting-eachother/254033/ 26 June, 2019 (Last Modified July 25, 2021).
 Budget 2021-22: Status of the Digital India Land Records Modernization Programme, available at :https://pib.gov.in/PressReleasePage.aspx?PRID=1696503 Ministry of Rural Development Budget 2021-22: Status of the Digital India Land Records Modernization Programme (Last Modified July 25, 2021).