Registrar cannot probe property's title, rules HC

Published: 19 October, 2012 06:54 IST | Samarth Moray |

The Bombay High Court recently ruled that a registrar is not authorised to inquire into a person's title to property before registering the documents.

The ruling came in a case wherein the registrar had refused to register Deed of Conveyance of a housing society on frivolous grounds. The court also ruled that even if parties without title want to transfer property and ‘legitimise’ the transaction by registration, it is not the registrar’s job to look into questions of title.

Deed of Conveyance
Hurdle cleared: The registrar had refused to register the Deed of Conveyance of Deep Apartment in Khar, forcing the society members to approach the High Court. Pic/Satyajit Desai

In an earlier ruling, the court upheld that looking into a property’s title was the job of the buyer.

In her judgment, Justice Roshan Dalvi observed: “There are many instances where the parties without any title seek to transfer such purported title, which they do not have, and legitimise the illegal act by the process of registration. That may be the ground reality. The Registering Authority, being conscious of such a fact, may consider himself obliged to prevent transfers by such illegal acts. However, none can transfer a better title than what he has... The Registering Authority, therefore, need not take upon itself the duty of a Civil Court which alone would go into question of title upon it being challenged.”

The judgement was delivered in a case related to Deep Apartment CHS, located in Khar. Years ago, Delhi-based Indraprastha Builders constructed a building on the plot in Khar and sold all the flats. In 1995, the residents formed a society and approached the builder to officially convey the property to them. Though all the formalities were fulfilled, the registrar refused to register their documents. Based on the registrar’s refusal, the society members moved High Court.

Their lawyer said, “As per the Registration Act of 1908, the sole duty of a Registrar is to satisfy himself of the identity of the persons appearing before him and ensure that documents are executed by the persons purporting to execute them.”

The court’s judgment, delivered on October 10, came down heavily on the registering authority, including the Joint Sub-Registrar at Andheri and the Mumbai Suburban District Collector, who had ‘misdirected themselves’. Both authorities while refusing to register the parties’ documents had referred to irrelevant sections of various acts as grounds for refusal.

Reasons for refusing to register documents
>> If the language is not understood by the authority
>> Property not sufficiently described or identified
>> A document presented four months after the date of its execution
>> Absence of photographs / fingerprints of executants
>> Registrar not satisfied as to the identity of the executants or agents 

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