Chennai: A Public Interest Litigation has been filed in the Madras high court to direct the authorities to permit both online registration as well as manual registration of documents leaving the option open to the public to choose the mode of registration, either online or manual, till the state becomes an E-State.
A division bench comprising Justices M. Sathyanarayanan and N. Seshasayee before whom the PIL filed by M. Sinnaraj of Coimbatore came up for hearing, directed the state government and Inspector-General of Registration to file counter affidavit within three weeks.
Richardson Wilson, counsel for the petitioner, submitted that though the petitioner supports online registration, there were certain grave concerns regarding its implementation. The right to privacy wasat stake. The documents in this process were being stored in a private company’s servers and any of its employees can access it. There have been no regulations regarding data protection. The servers were often down leading to inconvenience to general public. No proper training has been given either for the TCS employees or the registration department staff. Many were still unaware of the basics of the software, he added.
According to petitioner, subsequent to the introduction of online system, the entire registration system has been handed over to the TCS, which was 100 percent a private organisation. Now, sub-registrars, all over the state were at the beck and call of TCS staff. When such is the case, no registration can be done completely online without the physical presence and without the personal admission about the document for execution by the person concerned, he added.
He said when a decision for implementing online registration was taken, that too in an important department like registration department, wherein the fate of the public was decided in respect of properties, the issuance of the circulars compelling only online scheme on major issues of registration were not initially on the basis of any Act or legislative sanction or through any gazettee notification. It was only by way of circulars simply issued by the IG of registration.
This system continued for two years and only now during July 2019 probably realizing the legal lacuna, a G.O was issued.