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The Telangana Government introduced four bills to bring in transparency in land administration and simplify the process of registration. Going by the aims and objectives, it does sound interesting and gives an impression that it is a revolutionary one. It promises minimal human interference.

From the brief explanation given by the Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, this bill will make the farmer a king. (Rythu Raju). There will be no more breaking of heads, no more unnecessary litigations. Great and we wish it is so. The Dharani website which would be launched soon will be a ready reckoner for all across the globe to access data pertaining to land records of entire state.

The registration process will be carried out digitally and it will be end of farmers running around the offices of sub registrars and settling deals for payment. It will be end of era of corruption in the offices of registrars and sub registrars, KCR said.

If this turns out to be a reality in practice, then this certainly would be the most important achievement of the TRS government and KCR will go down as greatest reformer in the history of Telangana in the post-Nizam era.

Indians are known to find loop laws in any law even before it becomes operational. KCR claims that he had visualised this aspect as well and has empowered MROs to carry out registration and mutation of agricultural and Sub Registrars to carry out registration and mutation of non-agricultural lands in real time.

The government also promises safety and security of the database and will install multiple servers in state as part of backup mechanism and disaster management technology. Prior to the launch of Dharani website, the State government will undertake a complete survey of the State with geographical coordinates for each survey number fixed in these records. The coordinates will be based on longitude and latitude data.

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The new Bill could potentially pave the way to legitimise illegal land occupations by non-tribals in Scheduled Areas in the state, affecting the interest of tribals.

The new Bill passed in the Assembly on September 11 nullifies the existing Record of Rights (RoR) Act, 1971, while claiming that it offers an answer to resolve land-related problems and aims to revamp land administration in the state. On the contrary, the new Bill multiplies tribal land problems in the Scheduled Area and tends to further the alienation of tribal lands.

How Telangana’s new Revenue Bill may violate the land rights of Tribals? 
The new Bill could potentially pave the way to legitimise illegal land occupations by non-tribals in Scheduled Areas in the state, affecting the interest of tribals.

The Telangana Assembly passed a new Bill last week titled ‘The Telangana Rights in Land and Pattadar Passbooks Bill 2020’, which the government claims will solve issues plaguing the Revenue Department in the state. The Bill was passed after the Village Revenue Officer (VRO) system was abolished. However, the new Bill also paves the way to legitimise illegal land occupations by non-tribals in Scheduled Areas in the state, affecting the interest of tribals.

The new Bill passed in the Assembly on September 11 nullifies the existing Record of Rights (RoR) Act, 1971, while claiming that it offers an answer to resolve land-related problems and aims to revamp land administration in the state. On the contrary, the new Bill multiplies tribal land problems in the Scheduled Area and tends to further the alienation of tribal lands.

Land laws governing tribals
Special protective land laws have been in force in the Scheduled Areas of Telangana for a long time. The Tribal Area Regulation promulgated in 1949 was to provide better administration of the tribal areas of erstwhile Hyderabad State. This Regulation was repealed by the extension of the AP Scheduled Area Land Transfer Regulations (LTR) in 1963 to the Scheduled Areas of Telangana to prohibit the transfer of lands between tribals and non-tribals.

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Regulation 1 of 59 of the LTR was further amended in 1970, totally prohibiting the transfer of lands situated in the Scheduled Areas by a tribal or non-tribal, making such transfers absolutely null and void unless made in favour of tribals.

However, the new Bill extends to the whole state of Telangana, disregarding the special laws made applicable for the protection of tribals from exploitative land deals in the Scheduled Areas.

Registration of land deeds and mutation of land records
The new Bill enables an applicant to seek the registration of land transfers and mutation of agricultural lands by producing an affidavit and the pattadar passbook, and on payment of required stamp duty and fee. The Tahsildars who are designated as Joint Registrars are empowered to register these land transactions and validate this.

Further, the new Bill says that a title deed issued by the Tahsildar shall have the same evidential value as a document registered in accordance with the provisions of the Registration Act, 1908. With this, the new Bill contradicts the LTR.

Wow, sounds to be highly scientific. But what about the existing litigations pending in various courts pertaining to land. May be this issue the government will clarify when the bill will be taken for day long discussion. The Government has promised to permit in depth discussion for entire day but the opposition only hopes that their voice would not be muzzled in the name of time management.

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While the Congress party was unhappy that only six minutes were given to them on a resolution on Tuesday, it was the turn of MIM to protest over brief time allotted to them on Wednesday. Yes, the Assembly rules do say that time should be allotted as per the strength of the party.

Examining the land rights of tribals and non-tribals, several judgements have been passed by the Andhra Pradesh High Court and the Supreme Court. The High Court has held that the LTR shall have an overriding effect over the Record of Rights Act, 1971.

However, that is not so rigid that more time cannot be given and the ministers should not object if the Speaker being the supreme authority in the House allows members to speak for more time than what has been allotted to the party if the issue is of great importance and if it could affect the lives of the people of the state.

But unfortunately, a new trend is being witnessed in many State Assemblies that the opposition voice is being curtailed in the name of rules. It is rather a matter of concern that the ruling parties are increasingly becoming intolerant to voice of dissent and criticism including legislatures.

Let us hope that KCR Government will display its magnanimity and allow a thorough and fruitful discussion and make necessary amendments to the Bill if need be instead of completing the formality of holding a discussion and not agreeing even to a single suggestion from the opposition.

Let us hope that the new Revenue Bill will really become a landmark bill in the history of Telangana and will end cases like revenue officials seeking bribes even to the tune of over Rs one crore and brutal murder of revenue officials, incidents of which were witnessed recently. #KhabarLive #hydnews

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