The proper maintenance of land and property records is crucial for effective land governance. It can help ease land transactions, enhance revenue collection, aid dispute resolution and reduce the risk of fraudulent transactions. Given that India follows a system of presumptive titling—which means that ownership can be claimed as long as the title is not challenged—various documents can be used to establish ownership over property. Moreover, these records confer varying degrees of legitimacy, making it difficult to conclusively establish ownership in case of any objection or dispute. Property records vary not only across states, but also within each state.
Land and property administration in the National Capital Territory (NCT) of Delhi is complex and fragmented. Property records are maintained by a diverse body of institutions. Based on their functions—as administrators or custodians of records, owners of land or simply as maintenance agencies—these institutions hold different stakes. With no single custodian for the NCT of Delhi, there are no uniform records across various governance and planning typologies; varying formats are followed within as well as across institutions, making the process of property title search extremely cumbersome.
This policy brief, based on an IIHS study, aims to identify the issues with the maintenance of property records in the NCT of Delhi, and offers key recommendations to make these records comprehensive and easily accessible.