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Landmark Judgements under Registration Act, 1908

We come across many levels and sorts of transactions and documentation throughout our life. Some of these records and transactions are vital to both us and the government.
It would be impossible to keep track of such activities if there was no mechanism in place to regulate them.

As a result, the state established the registration process.

Now that this method had been resolved, the state wanted to make some money off of these transactions and documents, so it introduced the stamp duty system to do so.

The provisions relating to document registration are now dispersed among seven statutes. This will make it easier to understand the law.

On the coming into force of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, and the Indian Limitation Bill, now before Council, it will further cleanse the Statute-book of three full Acts and enable two additional Acts to be entirely removed from it.

The opportunity has been used to introduce formal changes aimed solely at improving and simplifying the existing Act's text.

The section numbers from the 1877 Act have been maintained. It has been discovered that the mere consolidation procedure may result in certain changes to the law.

The purpose of registration is to avoid fraud. The purpose of registering a document is to notify the rest of the world that it has been executed.

The registration of a document does not grant title to the property described in the document, but it does offer evidence of such transactions, which can be used to establish title to the property.

A "No Objection Certificate" from the competent authorities is required for the registration of documents relating to the conveyance of assets owned by the government, municipal governments, or religious institutions.

The Registration Act of 1908 was enacted with the goal of ensuring that all necessary information relating to land or other immovable property transactions was recorded.

The authenticity of a document can be enhanced by having it registered.

Registration Procedure in the Act

  • The Act's goal is to bring together all of the laws connected to registration and to make it easier to establish registration
  • It specifies which documents are required to be registered. The time limit for presenting documents for registration is set out in Section 23 of the Act.
  • S. 34 specifically provides for that enquiry, that can be held before the registration by the Registering Officer: Central Warehousing.
  • It establishes a time limit for registering a document. S.25 allows for the forgiveness of delays in submitting documents for registration.
  • It is well established that any instrument that provides a right or interest in the rents, profits, advantages, or income from an immovable property must be registered
  • Thus, whereas a document establishing a debt assignment does not require registration, a document establishing a rent assignment does.
  • If the power of attorney is to be recognized as producing an equitable assignment of rents, it must be registered; otherwise, it will be void and unenforceable.
  • The power of attorney does not create or recognize any right or benefit in or connected to any immovable property in favour of the bank.
  • It simply instructs the bank to act as the company's agent to carry out the actions specified.
  • The question of whether machinery embedded in the earth is movable or immovable property is determined by the facts and circumstances of each case; in particular, the Court must consider the parties' intent when they decided to embed the machinery, whether the embedment was intended to be temporary or permanent.


Case Laws Related to the Registration Act, 1908

Narinder Singh Rao v. Avm Mahinder Singh Rao[1]

  • Narinder Singh Rao v. Avm Mahinder Singh Rao involved Narender's father's will, which stated that his wife might inherit the land.
  • The widow's will, which was signed by a single witness but not recorded, left the entire estate to one of her nine children.
  • The harmed children filed a lawsuit against their mother, claiming that the will was defective and that they had a right to their father's property as well.
  • Because the will was unlawful because it was not attested by two witnesses, the Supreme Court ruled that the children had the right to inherit the property.

Naginbhai P. Desai vs Taraben A. Sheth[2]

  • The court ruled in Naginbhai P. Desai v. Taraben A Sheth that a sale agreement cannot be regarded a conveyance under the Indian Registration Act, 1908.
  • The argument that an agreement for sale was required to be registered under Clause (b) of Section 17 of the Registration Act has no merit.

H.P. Puttaswamy v Thimmamma & Ors[3]

  • In H.P. Puttaswamy v Thimmamma & Ors, the Supreme Court considered whether the presence of the purchaser of an immovable property is required before the concerned body under the Act when a deed is registered in conveyance in compliance with the Act.
  • The issue in this case concerned a 4,500-square-foot property in the village of Hittanahalli Koppalu in the Malavallu Taluk of Karnataka (the Suit Property).
  • It was discovered that this property had been the subject of two separate selling deeds. On March 31, 1989, the appellant filed a lawsuit to be recognized as the rightful owner of the suit property.
  • The plaintiff's deed had brought the appellant into possession of the suit as a tenant and later as a purchaser.
  • The Supreme Court cited section 32 of the act, stating that, aside from the exceptions established by Sections 31,88, and 89 of the Act, if a document is being registered, regardless of whether it is mandatory or optional, it would require either:
    • some person signing the agreement or claiming rights under it, or
    • such a person's representative or assignee, or
    • by the agent or representative of such a person who has a duly approved power of attorney to appear before the relevant authorities under the Act. A simple reading of Section 32 reveals that neither party to a sale deed is required to appear before the relevant authority under the Act. And, because the conveyance deed did not fall within the exceptions set forth in section 32, the Supreme Court dismissed the case without interfering with the High Court's decision, clarifying that Section 32 does not require the presence of both parties to a sale deed when it is submitted for registration to the appropriate authority under the Act.

Suraj Lamps & Industries Pvt. Ltd. v. State of Haryana[4]

  • In this case, it was decided that only a registered deed of conveyance can legally and lawfully transfer or convey immovable property.
  • Transactions of the type of 'General Power of Attorney Sales,' 'Sale by Agreement to Sell,' or 'Transfer by Will,' are incapable of conveying title and cannot be recognized as acceptable modes of immovable property transfer.
  • Such transactions are not to be treated as finished or concluded transfers or conveyances by the courts because they do not convey title or create any interest in real property.
  • Except to the degree that Section 53-A of the Transfer of Property Act, 1882 allows, they cannot be recognized as deeds conferring title.
  • Such transactions cannot be trusted or used to justify changes to municipal or revenue records. This regulation applies not just to deeds of conveyance for freehold property, but also to leasehold property transfers.
  • Only a registered "Assignment of Lease" can legally transfer a lease. An 'Agreement to Sell/General Power of Attorney/Will' transaction does not transfer ownership or create an interest in real estate.

Hansia v. Bakhtawarmal[5]

  • The question in Hansia v. Bakhtawarmal was how far a non-registered document that required mandatory registration under Section 17 of this act might be used in the action.
  • The document in dispute was an unregistered mortgage deed. Because the objective of the mortgage deed is to prove the mortgage, a suit for recovery based on an unregistered mortgage deed is bound to fail.
  • According to Section 49 of the Registration Act, an unregistered mortgage deed can only be utilised as collateral.
  • The plaintiff can only utilise the unregistered deed to prove the nature of possession in a claim for possession, not in a suit for redemption.
  • As a result, Section 49 of the Act cannot be used to get any benefit in a redemption litigation.
  • Documents that are required to be registered under the Registration Act of 1908 can be used for collateral purposes.

Tek Bahadur Bhujil v. Debi Singh Bhujil[6]

In this case, it was held that where a family arrangement was brought about by a document in writing with the intention of using that writing as proof of what the family had arranged for, such a document would require compulsory registration because it would amount to a document of title declaring what rights/claims and properties the parties, i.e., each member of the family, would possess or enjoy in the future.

Ghulam Ahmad v. Ghulam Qadir[7]

  • It was held in this case that an agreement that is completely mutual and family in nature for the enjoyment of property without limiting or eliminating anyone's right may not be registered.
  • It was held that if it is determined that a document is compulsorily registrable under Section 17 of the Registration Act, 1908, the next step is to examine the document to see if it could be allowed to registration under Section 21 of the 1908 Act.
  • Thus, if any of the provisions of Section 17 of the 1908 Act apply to the document, the application or non-application of Section 21 of the 1908 Act is irrelevant because it is the second step in the chain of actions that completes the registration formality.
  • A document that falls under Section 17(1) (b) of the 1908 Act is required to be registered; however, anything saved from the effect of this clause (that is, clause (b) of sub-section (1) of Section 17 of the 1908 Act) is not required to be registered.
  • Any substance with any matter expressed or represented by marks that may be read is referred to as a document. According to current Indian law, a document is defined as the matter written rather than the substance on which the matter is conveyed or described.
  • A non-testamentary instrument that modifies the right or interest created by an earlier instrument has the same effect as a completely new document in terms of creating new rights or extinguishing existing ones; such a document therefore requires registration.
  • A compromise is a settlement of a contested claim that can apply to any demand. It is not necessary to register a compromise that just comprises a recital of a previous agreement; nevertheless, if the compromise declares a right to immovable property, it is treated as a contract and must be registered.

Ram Sewak Jaiswal v. Abdul Majeed[8]

  • It was held in this instance that in the event of an agricultural lease, a recorded kabuliyat combined with the landlord's acceptance of the same is sufficient to create a lease in the eyes of the law.
  • A rent-note, also known as a kabuliyat, is a unilateral agreement between the lessee and the lessor to lease some immovable property.
  • A rent-note or kabuliyat falls within the definition of 'lease' for the purposes of Section 2(7) of the Registration Act, 1908, though it cannot be called a 'lease' sensu stricto for the purposes of Section 107 of the Transfer of Property Act, 1882; however, if it is executed for the period specified in Section 17(1) (d) of the Registration Act, 1908, it will require compulsory registration.
  • A rent-note or kabuliyat that has not been registered is inadmissible in evidence, despite the fact that it is required to be registered by Section 17(1) of the Registration Act, 1908.

Naran Das Karsan Das v. S.A. Kamtam[9]

  • A mortgage other than a mortgage by deposit of title-deeds can be effected only by a registered instrument signed by the mortgagor (that is, the person who mortgages the property) and attested by at least two witnesses where the principal money secured is Rs. 100/- or upwards, according to Section 59 of the Transfer of Property Act, 1882.
  • A mortgage by deposit of title-deeds can be made without any writing and just by delivering title-deeds with the goal of generating a security for a debt; there is no need to register the transaction.
  • A registered document is required in the event of a simple mortgage. If a document forms a mortgage without regard to the provisions of Section 58(f) of the Transfer of Property Act, 1882, it must be registered.
  • A document stating that if the mortgagor fails to repay the loan amount within the specified time, the mortgagor will be entitled to sell the mortgaged property to recover the loan amount will be required to be registered, as the mortgagee will receive title to the property as a result of the document.
  • Until the sale of the mortgaged property is completed, the mortgagor has the right to redeem. The mortgagor's right to redemption is not affected by registration.

Rambhau Namdeo Gajre v. Narayan Bapuji Dhotra[10]

The following are the basic requirements that must be met if a transferee (the person to whom the transferor has transferred the property) wishes to defend or safeguard his possession under Section 53-A of the Transfer of Property Act, 1882:
  1. Any immovable property that is being transferred for consideration must be subject to a contract.
  2. The transferor, or someone acting on his behalf, must sign the contract in writing.
  3. The text must be in such a way that the phrases required to interpret the transfer may be determined.
  4. The transferee must take possession of the property, or any part of it, in part-performance of the contract.
  5. The transferee must have performed or be willing to do his share of the contract; and the transferee must have performed or be willing to fulfil his part of the contract.

If these elements are met, there is equity in favour of the prospective transferee, who can safeguard his possession against the proposed transferor even if the proposed transferor does not complete a registered-deed conveying the title.

In this case, the equitable theory of part-performance set forth in Section 53-A of the Transfer of Property Act of 1882 kicks in.
The potential transferee is solely protected against the transferor under Section 53-A of the Transfer of Property Act of 1882.
It prevents the transferor from interfering with the possession of the prospective transferee, who has been placed in possession in accordance with the transferor's written contract with the transferee.

It has nothing to do with the intended transferor's ownership of the property, which he or she retains until it is formally transferred by signing a recorded sale-deed in the transferee's name.
If the potential vendor (or proposed transferor) is not the title-holder of the immovable property in question and is only a third-party, such a claim to safeguard possession by the proposed transferee against the proposed vendor (or proposed transferor) cannot be used.

Only a registered sale deed can convey title to an immovable property valued at more than Rs. 100/-, according to Section 54 of the Transfer of Property Act, 1882.

State of Rajasthan v. Basant Nahata[11]

It was decided as follows in this case:
  • The Contract Act of 1872 governs the grant of power of attorney in its entirety.
  • A power of attorney is not a transfer instrument for any right, title, or interest in immovable property.
  • A power of attorney is the creation of an agency in which the grantor authorises the grantee to perform the acts described therein on behalf of the grantor, which will be binding on the grantor as if performed by him (See: Sections 1-A and 2 of the Powers of Attorney Act, 1882).
  • Unless it is rendered irrevocable in a legal manner, a power of attorney can be revoked or terminated at any moment.
  • Even an irreversible power of attorney has no effect on transferring ownership to the grantee.
  • A power of attorney is merely a document of convenience; an attorney-holder may use the power conferred under the power of attorney to execute a deed of conveyance and so convey title on behalf of the grantor.

Bina Murlidhar Hemdev v. Kanhaiyalal Lokram Hemdev[12]

  • In this case, the court decided that once a document is registered, the Sub-Registrar loses authority over it
  • Only before the document is registered might the Sub-Registrar decline to register the document for reasons that must be specified under Section 71 of the Registration Act, 1908.
  • However, under Section 72 of the Registration Act, 1908, a Sub-order Registrar's refusing to register the document in question can be appealed to the Registrar.
  • In this case, the question for adjudication was whether a person who admits to signing a number of documents before the Sub-Registrar can afterwards claim that his initials were only on part of the pages and not on all of them.
  • A person who executes and admits a series of documents before the Sub Registrar cannot later dispute the existence of some of the documents carrying his signatures while admitting others.

Bhoop Singh v. Ram Singh Major[13]

  • It was decided that if a decree is issued about some immovable property that is not the subject of the suit, it (the decree) will be subject to compulsory registration
  • That instance, if a suit is filed in respect of property 'A,' but the decree is in respect of immovable property 'B,' the decree will require compulsory registration insofar as it relates to immovable property 'B,' according to Section 17(2) (vi) of the Registration Act, 1908.

S. Kaladevi v. V.R. Somasundaram[14]

  • Proviso to Section 49 of the Registration Act of 1908 was held to show that an unregistered document affecting an immovable property required to be registered may be received as evidence of the contract in a suit for specific performance or as evidence of any collateral transaction not requiring the use of a registered instrument.
  • As a result, the court held that an unregistered sale-deed might be introduced in evidence of a contract in a suit for particular performance of the contract under Proviso to Section 49 of the Registration Act, 1908.
  • By Provision of Section 49 of the Registration Act, 1908, an unregistered sale-deed can be accepted in evidence as proof of an oral agreement of sale rather than a completed sale.
     

Bajaj Auto Ltd. v. Behari Lal Kohli[15]

  • If a document is inadmissible in evidence due to a lack of registration, all terms/stipulations/clauses, notwithstanding the unregistered document in question, are inadmissible in evidence, including the one pertaining to the landlord's authorization to his tenant to sublet.
  • If a lease-deed is inadmissible in evidence due to a lack of registration, then utilising an unregistered lease-deed to prove a key clause in that lease-deed is not the same as using an unregistered lease-deed for collateral purposes.


State of U.P. v. District Judge & Ors[16]

  • According to Section 54 of the Transfer of Property Act, 1882, an immovable property worth Rs. 100 or more can only be conveyed/transferred by a registered sale document.
  • Furthermore, Section 53-A of the Transfer of Property Act, 1882 provides a shield of protection to the proposed transferee, allowing him to keep possession of the property in question against the original owner who has agreed to sell it to the proposed transferee; this protection is available to the proposed transferee provided that the proposed transferee meets all other conditions set forth in Section 53-A of the Transfer of Property Act, 1882.
  • This protection under Section 53-A of the Transfer of Property Act, 1882, is only available as a deterrent to the proposed transferor (that is, the proposed vendor), and it would prevent him (the proposed transferor) from disturbing the possession of the proposed transferee who has been placed in possession of the immovable property pursuant to an agreement between the proposed transferor and the proposed transferee; it has nothing to do with the ownership of the immovable property.

Meghmala v. G. Narasimha Reddy & Ors[17]

  • An agreement to sell does not create any right, title, or interest in the intended buyer, according to the court.
  • Because an agreement to sell does not fall under the offence of Section 53-A of the Transfer of Property Act of 1882 or Section 17(1A) of the Registration Act of 1908, it is not required to be registered.
  • At best, an agreement to sell falls under the wrath of Section 17(2) (v) of the Registration Act, 1908, because it does not create, declare, assign, limit, or extinguish any right, title, or interest in any immovable property worth Rs. 100 or more, but rather creates a right in favour of the intending buyer to obtain another document, namely the registered sale-deed, in the future.
  • Hence, an agreement to sell does not require registration under the Registration Act of 1908
     

M/s. Jiwan Industries (P) Ltd. v. Smt. Kamlesh Rani Budhiraja[18]

In this case, it was determined that an unregistered lease-deed can only be examined for collateral purposes; the term 'collateral purposes' cannot be interpreted to include the terms and conditions of tenancy, but rather to mean the use of an unregistered lease-deed to demonstrate the nature of the possession, i.e., to demonstrate that the tenant has not entered into the property illegally, but rather is a legal-entrant.

Conclusion
The registrations act explains how to register, what documents should be registered, and how to do so.

The registration of Will documents, as well as the registrations department's authorities and responsibilities. It also discusses the consequences and punishments for failing to follow the method and failing to complete tasks on time.

This Act establishes a good administration system among government departments and the court system, requiring that everything be handled in a timely and orderly manner to avoid future misunderstandings.

To avoid a property dispute, all documents must be registered.

The required documents must be correctly registered according to the procedures outlined in this Act, otherwise they will become invalid. It also ensures that the court system is properly administered within a set time range.

References:
  • https://www.researchgate.net/publication/314424567_The_Registration_Act_1908_Critical_Analysis_of_the_1908_Act
  • https://blog.ipleaders.in/registration-of-documents-and-consequences-of-non-registration-under-section-17-of-the-registration-act-l908/
  • https://www.netlawman.co.in/ia/registration-act-1908
End-Notes:
  1. AIR 2013 SC 1470
  2. AIR 2003 Bom 192
  3. Civil appeal no. 3975 of 2010
  4. AIR 2012 SC 206
  5. AIR 1958 Raj 102
  6. AIR 1966 SC 292
  7. AIR 1968 J. & K. 35
  8. AIR 1980 All. 262
  9. AIR 1977 SC 774
  10. AIR 2004 SC 4342
  11. (2005) 12 SCC 77
  12. AIR 1999 SC 2171
  13. AIR 1996 SC 196
  14. AIR 2010 SC 1654
  15. AIR 1989 SC 1806
  16. (1997) 1 SCC 496
  17. (2010) 8 SCC 383
  18. 208 (2014) DLT 589
Written By: Arryan Mohanty

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