Legal Guide

Land Ownership Laws in India

by Bhavya Choudhary · 4 min read

Land Ownership Laws in India

Introduction

  • The land is an immovable property where the value of a such property depends on its surroundings and the population; a growing population where its demand increases and supply remains limited makes it a unique asset, and therefore it is mandatory that the ownership of such land is clearly defined and is governed by Land ownership laws in India.
  • Land ownership is determined by considering who has access to a land title; such determination helps protect the rights of the titleholder and impacts livelihoods. However, in India, land titles are unclear, and hence various land ownership laws in India are framed.
  • Under land ownership laws in India, the rights of the title holder are to be protected so that no other person can claim the property. Therefore, land ownership laws in India are determined via various land documents such as property tax documents, registered sale deeds, and government survey records.
  • As per India LGAF Report, 2016, by 2030, it is expected that the urban population will increase by more than 200 million; hence, there may be a requirement for additional land for residential use and strict land ownership laws in India.

Land Regulation and legislation 

  • The Constitution of India consists of three lists, and “Land” was the subject of the “State” list. Till 1977 the property right was regarded as a fundamental right; however, after the 44th Constitution amendment, the property right was no longer considered a fundamental right and became a constitutional right which is to be protected under the authority of Land ownership laws in India.
  • Today the right to land in India is protected and regulated by State laws. Different states have different Land ownership laws in India to check and restore any illegal land transfer.
  • Before analyzing which Land ownership laws in India are applicable in a particular transaction, a person may approach for a bit of legal advice as different Land ownership laws in India are appropriate in different scenarios, and a person with proper legal knowledge may know how to implement it. 

Various land ownership laws in India are stated hereunder:

1.     The Indian Contract Act, 1872:  

The purpose of the Indian Contract Act is to control contract laws in India, entering into a contract, their execution, and implementation; not only this, but it also protects the rights and provides remedies in the event of a violation of applicable Land ownership laws in India (in case of a contract of land) and supplied as per legal document.

2.     Transfer of Property Act of 1882:

One of the primary Acts that govern the sale, lease, exchange, mortgage, and gift of immovable and movable property, as well as part performance and lis pendens. 

3.     The Indian Stamp Act of 1899: 

One may approach legal advice to determine the stamp duty to be paid and the procedures for the registration of different documents and deeds.

4.     Indian Registration Act, 1908: 

Under this regulation, it is mandatory that all properties involving transactions over Rs.100 and purchased in India must be registered to prevent fraud, protect evidence, and establish ownership. 

5.     The Real Estate Regulation & Development Act (RERA) 2016: 

Consumer protection is one of the government’s motives, and hence such law was framed to govern the real estate industry; this Act oversees the marketing, development, and sale of real estate developments. The Act mandates the registration of projects and significant players in the real estate sector. To effectively implement central laws at the local level, states have adopted RERA rules. 

6.     The FEMA or Foreign Exchange Management Act of 1999 and the Foreign Direct Investment Policy (FDI Policy):- 

Transactions in different countries are turning out to be a boom in India, and hence protection of foreign investors is necessary; so to oversee the purchase and sale of immovable property in India by foreign persons or corporations who are not Indian residents, various Land ownership laws in India were implemented.

Land and its tenure

Land ownership laws in India signify three kinds of tenure that govern land use and ownership, i.e., government, private and common land.

  1. Private land

Various types of private land under Land ownership laws in India are:

  • The land is owned via inheritance and is transferable. 
  • Land granted on lease by the government or any other person to the cultivator with possession may or may not have the transferable right.
  • Lease of land without permanent possession classified in terms of fixed money and usufructuary mortgage
  • Allotment of government wastelands to the landless tenant and house-site to homestead fewer families under Govt land distribution scheme and includes crosscutting the women’s rights over land and joint title in the name of both spouses. Various land documents are required for the same.
  1. Government Land

In India, under Land ownership laws in the Indian government, the land is held by:

  • Central Ministries and agencies
  • State Revenue (Land) Departments
  • State Forest Departments
  • Defense and Railways
  • Government institutions and State Department and
  • Institutions of local self-governance in urban and rural areas. 

III. Common Land 

  • Considering the Land ownership laws in India, common land is found chiefly in tribal and rural areas and is governed by customary tenure and traditional community institutions. 
  • However, there is no legal meaning of common land; therefore, taking a general purpose, common land refers to lands within the village’s boundary. 
  • More than 15% of the total land area constituted common land; however, due to unauthorized encroachment, the same is predicted to fall below 1.9% every five years.

 Conclusion

  • Land ownership laws in India refer to rules determining the right to use, transfer, and alienate others from the land in question. 
  • Well-defined land rights as per land ownership laws in India provide security to the legal owner of the Property. Also, they address the legal mandates India set forth regarding land ownership. Hence, it is recommendable that land ownership laws in India determining land rights and land ownership must be in agreement.
  • Today the primary focus is on land rights as they are pertinent to numerous aspects of development. 

The parties may take help from a property expert lawyer to ascertain every detail of laws relating to ownership of land as the procedure is a complicated one.

Bhavya Choudhary

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Bhavya Choudhary

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