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Mutation Entries alone do not confer Title in immovable properties

People have a misconception that ownership of an agricultural land or an immovable property is witnessed by the relevant entry in the revenue or the municipal records. It is true that mutation entries are relevant and primary for ascertaining the title but is not the sole deciding factor to determine legal ownership. It is common that in a dispute over title of an immovable property the parties usually assert their title by placing reliance upon their name being reflected in the revenue records, which is not conclusive.

There can be a case wherein the purchaser of an immovable property has not got his name mutated and the name of the erstwhile owner continues in the revenue/municipal records. It is also possible that the name of one of the partner/ co-owner/coparcener has been mutated in a partnership/joint/coparcenary property in a representative capacity or the name of the karta of the HUF has been mutated in place of the HUF. There is also a possibility that one of the co-owner gets his name mutated unilaterally & fraudulently.

The mutation entries in such cases will not be conclusive proof of the ownership and can prove fallacious. It is imperative for any prudent purchaser to see the complete chain of title instead of being blindly dependent on the mutation entries alone.

The Apex Court has been repeatedly asserting that the Mutation Entries neither confer any title nor are a conclusive proof of ownership. The Courts have clearly spelt out that the mutation entries are important only for collection of revenue/municipal taxes and should not be haloed in a manner to interpret impeccable legal ownership.

The Apex Court has recently in the case Commissioner, Bruhath Bangalore Mahanagra Palike vs Faraulla Khan in SLP (C) No.5743/2020 on 25 January 2021 reiterated that mutation entries do not by themselves confer title which has to be established independently in a declaratory suit in the competent civil court.

 The Apex Court in a catena of cases have earlier held that mutation of a land in the revenue records does not create or extinguish the title nor it has any presumptive value on the title. It only enables the person in whose favour mutation is ordered to pay the land revenue in respect of the said land. The decision of the Apex Court in the case of Sita Ram Bhau Patil v. Ramchandra Nago Patil (dead) by LRs and another, AIR 1977 SC 1712 has clearly laid down the proposition that there is no abstract principle that whatever will appear in the record of rights will be presumed to be correct when it is shown by evidence that the entries are not correct.

The Apex Court in Smt.Bhimabai Mahadeo Kambekar (D)Th. LR Vs. Arthur Import and Export Company 2019 (3) SCC 191 has again held that the mutation entries in the revenue records do not create or extinguish title over the land nor has any presumptive value on the title of such land. The same principle has been followed by Hon'ble Apex Court in Suraj Bhan and Ors. v. Financial Commissioner and Ors. (2007) 6 SCC 186.  Hon'ble Apex Court in Jattu Ram v. Hakam Singh and Ors.(1993) 4 SCC 403 has held that it is settled law that the Jamabandi entries are only for fiscal purpose and they create no title. 

In Sawarni (Smt.) Vs. Inder Kaur (1996) 6 SCC 223, the Apex Court categorically held that the mutation of a property in the revenue record does not create or extinguish title nor does it have any presumptive value on the title. It only enables the person in whose favour mutation is ordered to pay the land revenue in respect of the land. The Court held thus:

"Mutation of a property in the revenue record does not create or extinguish title nor has it any presumptive value on title. It only enables the person in whose favour mutation is ordered to pay the land revenue in question."

 In Balwant Singh & Anr. Vs. Daulat Singh (dead) by L.Rs. & Ors. (1997) 7 SCC 137 almost identical observations were made by the Apex Court wherein it was held that a person is not divested of his title in the suit property as a result of mutation entry. In Narasamma & Ors. Vs. State of Karnataka & Ors. (2009) 5 SCC 591, the Apex Court reiterated the above position by observing that it is true that the entries in the revenue record cannot create any title in respect of the land.

 In Suman Verma Vs. Union of India & Ors., (2004) 12 SCC 57 the Apex Court on the issue in hand held thus:

"In our opinion, owning of agricultural property and getting the name entered in Revenue Record are two different and distinct things. Mutation entry does not confer right or title to the property. Though the law is very well settled, in our opinion, the CAT was right in relying upon the decision of this Court in Sawarni v. Inder Kaur and Others AIR 1996 SC 2823 wherein this Court held that mutation entry neither creates nor extinguishes title or ownership."

Similarly in another case reported in JT 1996(10) SC 43 in State of U.P. vs. Amar Singh etc. it has been held that mutation entries are only for the purposes of enabling the State to collect land revenue from the person in possession but it does not confer any title to the land. The title would be derived from an instrument executed by the owner in favour of an alienee. In R.V.E. Venkatachala Gounder vs. Arulmigu Viswesaraswami and V. P. Temple and another AIR 2003 S.C. 4548 the same view has been enunciated.

Thus, it is beyond doubt that entries in revenue records are not documents of title & Mutation does not create or extinguish title in any property. These entries are only fiscal in nature to enable the State to collect revenue from the person recorded. They do not convey any rights or title in any property. Since mutation entries have not been regarded as documents of title, the mutation order in no way can be described as a document likely to create or extinguish title. It is consistent view of the Courts that the mutation entries are only maintained for fiscal purposes, to ensure that the land revenue is paid by the person whose name is recorded thereon.

Written By: Inder Chand Jain
Ph no: 8279945021, Email: [email protected]

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