The Delhi High Court has quashed the circular issued by the Delhi government that empowered Registrars to cancel or recall a registered deed on receipt of any complaint that the same has been registered by practicing fraud.
A bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice V Kameswar Rao quashed the July 13, 2016 circular issued by the Inspector General of Registration providing for the procedure to be followed on complaints relating to fraudulent registration through impersonation or production of false documents and evidence.
“…it must be held that Registrar has no powers under Section 82 of the Registration Act nor can invoke Section 21 of the General Clauses Act, to annul a registration of a document. Accordingly, the circular dated July 13, 2016 to the extent it empowers the Registrar to annul a registered document is ultra vires the Registration Act, 1908 and is set aside,” said the bench while relying on the Supreme Court judgment in case titled Satya Pal Anand vs State of Madhya Pradesh.
In Satya Pal Anand’s case, the apex court had clearly stated that “…once the document is registered, it is not open to the Registering Officer to cancel that registration even if his attention is invited to some irregularity committed during the registration of the document. The aggrieved party can challenge the registration and validity of the document before the Civil Court”.
The high court referred to the judgment of the Supreme Court in Satya Pal Anand case and noted the following points:
(i) The role of Sub-Registrar (Registration) stands discharged, once the document is registered.
(ii) There is no express provision in the Registration Act which empowers Registrar to recall registration.
(iii) The fact whether the document was properly presented for registration cannot be reopened by the Registrar after its registration.
(iv) The power of the Inspector General is limited to do superintendence of registration offices and make rules in that behalf. Even the Inspector General has no power to cancel the registration of any document, which has already been registered.
The high court was hearing a PIL moved by Areness Foundation wherein its advocate Sanya Kapur had argued that the impugned circular took away the rights of the parties concerned to approach the civil court and empowered the Registrar to recall registration even when it is not even a quasi-judicial body.
Ms Kapur argued that while in an earlier circular dated November 12, 2014, Sub-Registrars were directed not to refrain from registering a deed unless there is a court order, the 2016 circular gives Registrars powers to cancel a registered deed.
The petitioner argued that Registrar becomes functus officio on the registration of a deed and the impugned circular was ultra vires the Registration Act, 1908.
It was also argued that there is no express provision provided by the legislation which empowers the Registrar to recall registrations and therefore, delegated legislation cannot supersede the legislation which is in play.
Ms Kapur also stated that as per the impugned circular, the trial conducted/to be conducted by the Registrars was/is summary in nature as it directs completion of an inquiry of a "fraudulent transaction" within two months even as the legislature has not laid down any such summary procedure under the Specific Relief Act for the cancellation of a deed.