Rescind AP Land Titling Act, 2023: HRF

The Human Rights Forum (HRF) demands that the Government of Andhra Pradesh immediately rescind the recently enacted ‘Andhra Pradesh Land Titling Act, 2023’. We oppose the decision of the government to transfer the remit of litigating property disputes from the jurisdiction of civil courts to revenue authorities. We hold that this act, despite its lofty declaration of providing permanent titles to immovable assets, will, in practice, divest marginalised sections of their property.

Following the Union government’s intention to digitize the immovable property records and the NITI Aayog’s model land titling act, the Government of AP enacted The Andhra Pradesh Land Titling Act, 2023, on October 31, 2023. It is doubtful the government has given much thought to the many problems this act will land people in. We would like to ask the government how democratic it is to pass an act unilaterally without carrying out the necessary consultative processes with the opposition parties and society.

This Act prescribes that the people who own any kind of immovable property must register it with the Title Registration Officer to obtain a permanent title to it, irrespective of whether the property ownership is disputed or not. This is nothing but a violation of their Right to Privacy. It is estimated that while 30-40 percentage of people who own property have clear titles, the rest are the ones who have not registered the property under their enjoyment or their ownership is in dispute in the judiciary. It would be a humongous burden on the people now to register their properties once again when their ownership is not disputed.

According to the act, following the government’s notification, people whose ownership of immovable property is disputed need to register their dispute with the Title Registration Officer. The government will appoint an officer not below the rank of Chief Secretary/Special Chief Secretary/Principal Secretary as the Chairperson of the Andhra Pradesh Land Authority. This Land Authority will appoint Land Titling Officers to various regions – people whose ownership is disputed need to register their disputes with these officers.

Similarly, the Act says that if a person whose ownership is disputed does not register their dispute with the Officer within two years from the date of notification, the permanent title to the property will be registered to the person who is already the registered owner. However, revenue orders can be altered only according to Board Standing Orders (BSO). According to these orders, they can be altered only after hearing all the disputed parties. That being the situation, how prudent is it to consider non-registration as the clinching evidence to decide the ownership?

The act also says that if the litigant is unsatisfied with the Officer’s ruling, they can approach the Land Appellate Tribunal and further approach the Andhra Pradesh High Court to challenge the Tribunal’s ruling. These tribunals will be manned by officials not below the rank of Collector/Joint Collector. This, too, demands a lot many resources on the part of people. The government needs to answer how committed the Title Registration Officers will be to the Right to Property of people under political and other pressures. If the government truly intends to protect the immovable property of people, it should increase the number of civil courts and ensure that the litigation process is speed-tracked. It takes immense legal knowledge to deal with revenue matters. It is therefore clear that the proposed act will further troubles rather than facilitate resolution.

The other egregious provision is that if a decree obtained from a court is not submitted to the Title Registration Officer within the stipulated time, the ruling will have no effect whatsoever.

It is highly likely that immovable asset owners belonging to Dalit, Adivasi, and Backward Classes will lose the right over their property if the provision of compulsory registration – despite not being disputed – of property is implemented. We believe that the implementation of this act will result in the alienation of properties belonging to the aforementioned sections to socially and politically dominant sections. This Land Titling Act, 2023 must go.

UG Srinivasulu
HRF State president

Y Rajesh
HRF State general secretary

G Rohith
HRF State secretary


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