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karira

Delhi: Land records are not personal information, says Central Information Commission

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karira

Land records are not personal information, says Central Information Commission

 

 

Land records, describing boundaries, ownership and extent of possession, are public records which cannot be treated as personal information, the Central Information Commission has held, directing the Delhi government to consider writing them on the walls of villages.

Information Commissioner Sridhar Acharyulu said records with names of different owners giving details of boundaries, and the extent of land owned or possessed by the public authority, is neither private information nor third party information.

Delhi government officials had claimed that property details of other persons from land records of the village cannot be given under the RTI Act as the law allows withholding personal information from disclosure.

Rejecting the argument, Acharyulu said,"The land is open and transaction of change of ownership of a particular piece of land is registered with Registrar for being recorded as admissible evidence of that ownership for public to know." "Registration is notification to society and evidence of the transaction and not an affair to be kept secret. If the argument of PIO (public information officer) is accepted the registration of transactions of sale and mortgage would never be available to people in general. That will defeat the purpose of recording the transaction at all," the Information Commissioner said.

Taking a cue from Telangana, Acharyulu directed the Delhi government to "explore writing of records on the walls in villages as that practically solved the land problems" in the newly-carved out state.

"It is the duty of the revenue department to make all updated land records open for scrutiny of the people. Transparency is the only way by which corruption can be prevented. Transparency of the land records is mandated as per Section 4(1)(B) of the RTI Act and Public Records Act, 1993," Acharyulu said.

Quoting the Report of the Working Group on Transparency and Accountability (CentralEmployment Guarantee Council), the Commissioner said if the transparency and accountability provisions are not taken seriously, the entire edific will be undermined by a range of corrupt practices--from denial of basic rights to huge scams.

He said revenue department is supposed to survey, map the possession, prepare and update the ownership and possession related records in villages with reference toagriculture and to be kept for various purposes including the ascertaining of land rights.

Read More: http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report-land-records-are-not-personal-information-says-central-information-commission-2047889

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Prasad GLN

A very good decision with clarity, another feather in cap of Hon SA as these decisions are more helpful for a common man and in larger public interest.

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karira

[h=1]Set the record straight[/h]

The Public Information Officers (PIOs) of Public Authorities are mostly opposing disclosure of land records which reflect unreasonable, exploitative and secretive attitude of the government. As the Central Information Commissioner (CIC), this author has made a strong appeal for change of this archaic slave-of-British-closed-mindset into an open and transparent duty as prescribed by law.

 

The land records should be periodically updated, and for that they should be available to the public in general, to enable them to point out and seek corrections. Secrecy of land records breeds corruption.

 

The PIO of the revenue department claimed in a case that the property details of other persons in land records of the village could not be given under the RTI Act to the appellant as they belong to private persons and thus third party information. The land is open and transaction of change of ownership of a particular piece of land is registered with Registrar for being recorded as admissible evidence of that ownership for public to know. Registration is notification to society and evidence of the transaction and not an affair to be kept secret. If the argument of PIO is accepted the registration of transactions of sale and mortgage would never be available to people in general. That will defeat the purpose of recording the transaction at all. Revenue department is supposed to survey, map the possession, prepare and update the ownershop and possession related to records in villages with reference to agriculture and to be kept for various purposes including the ascertaining of land rights.

 

The land records are public documents and names of owners are not personal information. In the second Appeal of Surender Pal Singh against Sub Divisional Magistrate of Delhi Government, the CIC explained records with names of different owners describing boundaries and extent of the land are public records and the information such as names of persons and the extent of land owned or possessed by the public authority is neither private information nor ‘third party’ information. He directed the Government to explore writing of records on the walls in villages as that practically resolved several problems in Telangana.

 

It is the duty of the revenue department to make all updated land records open to scrutiny of the people. Transparency is the only way by which corruption can be prevented. Transparency of the land records is the mandate as per Section 4(1)(b) of the Right to Information Act, 2005, and the Public Records Act, 1993. The AP Rights in Land and Pattadar Pass Books Act, 1971, provided for inspection and copies of the ROR (Record of Rights) saying ROR to be open for inspection by public. Certified copies to be given on payment of fee.

 

The Delhi Revenue Act, 1954 Sections 31, 32 & 34 provide right to land records as follows:

 

Section 31 (Obligation to furnish information necessary for the preparation of records): Any person, whose rights, interests or liabilities are required by any enactment for the time being in force or by any rule made under any such enactment to be entered in any official register by a Kanungo or Patwari, shall be bound to furnish, on the requisition of the Kanungo or Patwari or of any Revenue Officer engaged in compiling the register, all information necessary for the correct compilation thereof.

 

Section 32 (Inspection of records): All maps, field books, lists and registers kept under this Act shall be open to public inspection at such hours and on such conditions as to fees or otherwise as the Chief Commissioner may prescribe.

 

Section 34 (Record Officers): The Chief Commissioner may appoint an officer, hereinafter called the Record Officer, to be in charge of the record operations or the survey, or both, as the case may be, in any and as many Assistant Record Officers as to him may seem fit, and such officers shall exercise all the powers conferred on them by this Act so long as such area is under record or survey operations, as the case may be.

 

Writing Land Records on Wall: Karuna Vakati, the Joint Collector of Warangal district, in Telangana wrote: “A significant percentage of the poor are not legal owners of the land that they till, which means that their names do not find entries as land owners (or even as occupants in most cases) in the land records. This leaves them outside the network of state programmes like institutional funding, crop insurance etc. Ensuring land rights to the poor is a set of administrative processes that need to be taken up under different Land Acts, an exercise which is being carried out in Warangal.

 

Two major impediments exist in doing this – On one hand, the ignorance of the poor people on the modalities of getting their name into the ‘occupant and owner’ and indeed on the whole aspect of ‘getting the ownership of land’; and on the other hand, the natural inclination of the functionaries within the system to hold onto (and worse deny) information as a means of power. Placing of land records in public domain would be an important step to address the afore-mentioned issues.

 

The Report of the Working Group on Transparency and Accountability (Central Employment Guarantee Council) submitted on 7th July 2010 to MoRD recommended that : “All relevant information regarding the MGNREGA must be proactively displayed (mandatory) and made accessible through different modes and medium, ensuring local language compatibility and keeping in mind the needs of the semi-literate, the illiterate and the differently abled.” The group was deeply concerned about the rapidly increasing levels of corruption in the MGNREGA.

 

MGNREGA expenditure is likely to exceed Rs 39,000 crore per year. If the Transparency and Accountability provisions are not taken seriously, the entire edifice will be undermined by a range of corrupt practices—from denial of basic rights, to huge scams. In the process the poor workers of India, for whom this Act was brought into place, will suffer and lose faith in the Act, and its capacity to deliver.

 

Sections 74 and 76 of Indian Evidence Act, 1872 which provided right to information about public documents explain how to exercise that right. Prior to the Right to Information Act, 2005, this was the real right to information available to the people regarding public documents.

 

Providng access to land records will be a progressive step. Besides writing it on walls, possibilities of all-time open register, or webhosting should be explored. Hope the state will not build walls to write records on!

 

Read More: Madabhushi Sridhar: Set The Record Straight - The Hans India

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Prasad GLN

Even from times immemorial ( British Regime), they are Public records, but still PIOs and even some experts still maintain that they are personal, private and can not be disclosed.

Hope unless the water is poured from "Shank" it can not become 'Teerdha" (sacred water).

Atlast one basic clarification clarified all lingering doubts. Kudos for Hon MS/IC for such crystal clear decision without further scope for misinterpretation once again by those who think that they are intellectuals.

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