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The Collapse of Land Record System: A Report on a Land Conflict

Revenue or property record is essential for property rights. Majority of conflicts in Pakistan take root from property conflicts.
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Tahir Maqsood Cheena

The Collapse of Land Revenue System: A Report on Land Revenue Conflict

Pakistan inherited a land revenue system from Colonial India. Despite all the colonial elements, it was a functional system that managed the land record in India rather fairly. However, the partition of India severely blew the land revenue system. As they say, a system is necessary; however, the managers of a system are more critical. The record keeper of the system was patwari, and the administrative officers were the office of the Tehsildar, followed by appellate offices of sub-divisional collectors and district collectors.
Pakistan’s revenue system was polluted with the independence of the country. The fundamental reason was the taking over of the system by the locals. With all the controversy, the Britisheres were financially less corrupt, and secondly, they had no local interests, even being colonial exploiters. Furthermore, it was polluted due to the migration flow with so many false property claims. Resultantly, the manual record system was up for grabs, and revenue officials and officers tempered it to their advantage. Then, a slight tempering can change property rights, and due to the quasi-judicial system, it takes decades to correct the revenue record and reclaim property rights. Land record systems are significant for the property rights of the citizens. However, the relevant organizations in Pakistan have yet to be able to develop a qualitative land record system, although a bit of improvement has been achieved with the application of technology, especially in the land record system.

As a citizen, if there is any issue regarding the property, it becomes impossible for a citizen to get relief from the revenue officials and officers. Even if you are a revenue officer, you still need to get implemented; little revenue works to ascertain the legality of land in terms of possession, boundary and demarcation. Our investigative team has ascertained a classical case where two civil servants are vying for the possession of land, and the revenue department is unable to solve a simple case of demarcation in a joint holding as the land price rocketed to the sky after the commercialization of land. The issue is that a junior officer is unable to ensure a little demarcation despite all his approaches because the opposite person is a senior bureaucrat and enjoys more decisive influence. The case is an interesting read because the revenue officials and officers cannot demarcate land due to the powerful bureaucrats involved in it.

Statistics show that property conflicts produce most conflicts, as Revenue Department is indirectly involved in them. If it decides matters in time and on merit, all property-related clashes can be avoided. The report begins as follows;
Muhammad Zaman Sandhu and others applied for land demarcation in a joint holding in Qasur. It is a simple application, and the revenue department should have demarcated the land. However, it has yet to be done, and the matter is flaring, and the case is in Court under the illegal disposition act 2005. The merit of the case is to be decided by the Court; however, what led the applicants to file a case in the Court, is the failure of the revenue system. The powerful people often influence the revenue system in Pakistan. Apparently, the case is between Muhammad Zaman Sandhu and Muhammad Asim Iqbal. Muhammad Asim Iqbal is a senior bureaucrat and claims to have a property in the joint holding. Both parties claim they are the owners of the property. However, it has to be decided by the demarcation and the transparent revenue processes. Then, the revenue processes still need to be done. It is where the Revenue Department needs to address the property issues.

The question is simple, why is land not demarcated? Reportedly, the assistant commissioner, deputy commissioner and commissioner of the Lahore Division have often visited the place for demarcation, but the demarcation still needs to be done. The applicant, Zaman Sandhud, alleges that Mr Asim Iqbal has exercised his influence over the AC, DC and Commissioner, Lahore division, not to demarcate the land. He further alleges that Mr Asim Iqbal has taken over the possession of the land illegally despite a court stay order. He further says that the revenue department is at the back end of Asim Iqbal and needs to do the primary duty of demarcating the land. Therefore, they went to Court to get the boundary limits done and dispossessed Asim Iqbal from possessing the land illegally.

Furthermore, both parties have attempted to influence all offices. The administrative offices are pressurized, the FIRs are lodged, and also, the office of Anti Corruption is being requested. Lastly, the matter is also in the Court, and both parties have already exercised massive pressure upon each other, and parties such as bureaucrats are involved in the case. It is more unfortunate that the matter might affect sufficient economic interests; however, it can easily be solved if the revenue department does a simple process of demarcation.

Zaman Sandhu, a party in the case, alleges that Mr Asim Iqbal, the bureaucrat, has exercised immense pressure on the revenue offices. As he is a senior grade 21 officer, he has been able to handle the offices of the commissioner, deputy commissioner and police. He further says that Asim Iqbal possessed the land illegally and with the support of administrative offices. The reporter of republic policy has further thrashed the record and found that a former deputy commissioner of Dear Ghazi Khan, Mr Anwer Baryar, is also trying his best to woo the revenue department to do the demarcation in favour of Zaman Sandhu, whom he is related. However, Mr Asim Iqbal, the senior DMG officer, can influence the Revenue Department staff more.

Because the case’s merit has to be decided by the Court, the revenue department, at least, needs to work independently. Why have the assistant commissioner, deputy commissioner and commissioner of the Lahore division yet to demarcate the land? Justice will prevail if the government’s executive branch performs its duty. So many revenue files and petitions are with the offices of Revenue officials, officers and administrators, and timely disposal of these applications can solve property rights and, thus, evade subsequent property conflicts.https://republicpolicy.com/cash-strapped-punjab-government-claims-election-expenses-just-too-much-to-bear/

The writer is an editor at republicpolicy.com

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