The Land Records Management and Information System (LRMIS) in Punjab has been a long time coming, and its proper usage can potentially lead to a more equitable method of keeping records of land ownership and revenue in the province. However, given the extremely complex dynamics of ownership law, customs and traditions that dictate land ownership in the country, it is questionable whether an arbitrary computerised system will be able to accurately record all data. The patwari system has a reputation of being immensely corrupt. The power wielded by the patwar knows no bounds in rural areas, because he acts as the government’s direct representative and has a record of land owners and the revenue generated through farming. The patwar uses this influence to collect bribes, give false statements and change records.

As an agricultural country, it was imperative that land registration could be carried out without the menace of patwaris plaguing the whole process. However, collective land ownership is the biggest hurdle in making this an easy job. The British implemented a governance system in place that was primarily designed to cater to ownership based on ancestry and possession of land. Both these forms of ownership were more collective than what exists today. Post-1947, after the formulation of proper codified laws, a more individual system has been put into place, on the bones of the old structure. So while our system of local governance, with a specific role assigned to the lumbardar, is still structured around the colonial system, disputes crop up on the basis of inheritance, tenancy and tilling fields every day by the dozens. A computerised system is will not cater to these issues, but will instead bring up new disputes. For after all, what will families enter into records when a piece of land is collectively owned by a large number of family members?

Additionally, records dating far back into the past now need to be re-filed and entered into the data bank. There are a plethora of additional problems that will surface as a result of this. Some records were falsified or flawed to begin with. Will those be copied verbatim, adding to the myriad disputes of land ownership already pending in court? How many landowners are registered in the NADRA database? If a large number are not, registering their properties will be no easy task. Lastly, can the government be trusted to carry out this monumental task with the utmost diligence? A computerised database for records of land ownership and revenue collection is imperative, but will serve no purpose if it does not assist in creating a fairer and more transparent system that cannot be used to manipulate records for personal gain.