Revenue Record Entries do not transfer ownership
The Transfer of Immovable Property is mainly governed by two major laws, namely, Indian Contracts Act, 1872, and the Transfer of Property Act, 1882.
However, apart from these 2 laws, another piece of legislation is of utmost importance when it comes to bringing into effect a particular transfer of rights, title, interest in an immovable property.
A Deed of Conveyance is a necessary document for transferring the title and/or possession of the immovable property, and in order to bring it to effect, the same is required to be mandatorily registered in accordance with Section 17 of the Indian Registration Act, 1908 and Section 53A of the Transfer of Property Act, 1882, provided further that if such documents are not registered before the Registrar, they have no effect.
The Government of Maharashtra has launched Maharashtra Bhumi Abhilekh, which is an official website of the Government that is a well-maintained and protected database of Maharashtra land records, wherein the public may get their 7/12 extract and 8A extract online via this site. These documents though, are not direct evidence of title, it can nonetheless aid the authorities in determining the taxpayers’ liabilities. It mainly serves the purpose of corroboration. Earlier, all changes to information on revenue records pertaining to land and property had to be made in person at government offices. However, these changes may now all be performed online.
The Revenue Records pertaining to land and/or property are thus, and are more particularly, the records which aid the authorities in assessing the taxpayers’ liabilities with respect to the said land and/or property.
The Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in Narandas Karsondas Vs. SA Kamtam, has established the significance of a Deed of Conveyance by observing that in the absence of a deed of conveyance (which must be duly stamped and registered as required by law), no right, title or interest in an immovable property can be transferred.
It is pertinent to note that land and property disputes account for the vast majority of the disputes in Indian Courts. As surveys suggest, at least 66% of all civil cases in India are related to land and/or property disputes. In furtherance, 25% of all cases decided by the Apex Court, involved land disputes, with 30% of those involving land acquisition. According to reports on Supreme Court Cases from the year 1950-2016, an estimated average time between the filing of a land acquisition dispute case and its conclusion by the Supreme Court is 20 years.
Evidently, the judicial system is thus overburdened with a humongous number of disputes arising due to contradictory statutes, inefficiency in discharge of administrative duties, lack of understanding and a confusion in interpretation of rights conferred upon people by the statutes. Therefore, courts have analyzed the usage of the various documents involved in property transactions, and likewise, its legal consequences, and a consensus has evolved about the lack of standing of “Revenue Records” in a claim of ownership.
Thus, in the case of Prahlad Pradhan Vs. Sonu Kumhar, the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India has explained the reason why Revenue Records are not proof of ownership or title. The Court has observed that entries in the revenue records do not conclusively confer title to a property, nor do they have any presumptive value on the title. They only enable the person in whose favour mutation is recorded, to pay the land revenue in respect of the land in question. The Supreme Court has placed its reliance upon the following judgements:
- in Balwant Singh & Anr. Vs. Daulat Singh (dead) & Ors., where the Hon’ble Supreme Court held that Mutation entries do not deprive a party of his title to the property at issue in a lawsuit.
- in Narasamma & Ors. Vs. State of Karnataka & Ors., where the Hon’ble Supreme Court upheld its earlier decision and observed that the entries in the revenue records cannot create a title to the property in dispute.
- in Smt. Bhimabai Mahadeo Kambekar (dead) Vs. Arthur Import and Export Company, where it observed that the mutation of a property in the revenue record neither creates nor destroys title, nor has any presumption value on title. It only allows the individual in whose favour the mutation is ordered to pay the land revenue.
In a recent case before Hon’ble Justice Shri Hemant Gupta and Justice Shri V Ramasubramanian, the Apex Court has reiterated its position by observing that Revenue Records are not documents of title. The Court further observed that in case of Leave and License, a lessee would not be entitled to any right on the land only on the basis of an entry in the revenue record.
It is important to note that due to discrepancies pertaining to ownership and title certificates as well as disputes arising due to forgery of documents, wrongful transfer of ownership, and consequently transfer of title using only a 7/12 extract, the general public developed the misconception that a 7/12 extract is a substantial document that serves as valid proof of ownership. However, the High Court of Bombay has clarified on the subject when a similar matter arose before the Court in the case of Ashwini Ashok Kshirsagar Vs. State Of Maharashtra, where the Court has very categorically held that the entries in the 7/12 extract are not by themselves proof of title nor do they confer title.
Thus, it is apparent from the findings of several Supreme Court and High Court decisions that mutation entries in the revenue records related to any land do neither create or extinguish title to a property. Whereas, the Mutation entries are of significance during reselling of property since it is used to assess a tax payer’s liabilities, and that non-filing attracts penalties. In furtherance, the procedure, cost, and documents required while applying for mutation also differs from state to state. The following websites has information pertaining to Mumbai and the state of Maharashtra:
- Application for Property Mutation Certificate in Maharashtra provided by the Rural Development and Panchayati Raj of the state:– https://services.india.gov.in/service/detail/application-form-for-property-mutation-certificate-in-maharashtra
- Mutation Entry Application:– https://mumbaisuburban.gov.in/form/mutation-entry-application-format-slr-mumbai-suburban-district/
- Transfer Application Form:- https://mumbaicity.gov.in/form/transfer-application-form-for-mutation/
- Narandas Karsondas Vs. SA Kamtam [(1977) 3 SCC 247]
- Prahlad Pradhan Vs. Sonu Kumhar [LAWS(SC)-2019-10-100]
- Balwant Singh & Anr. Vs. Daulat Singh (dead) & Ors. [(1997) 7 SCC 137]
- Narasamma & Ors. Vs. State of Karnataka & Ors. [(2009) 5 SCC 591]
- Bhimabai Mahadeo Kambekar (dead) Vs. Arthur Import and Export Company [(2019) 3 SCC 191]
- Prahagiya Van Adhikari Awadh Van Prabhag Vs. Arun Kumar Bhardwaj (dead) [LL 2021 SC 544]
- Ashwini Ashok Kshirsagar Vs. State Of Maharashtra [ALLMR(CRI)-2010-0-2569]
BY ABHISHEK KUNCHIKOR