1 April 2022 12:05 PM GMT
The Karnataka High Court has said that the power conferred on the registering officer under the Registration Act is fundamentally to enable him to satisfy himself about the identity of the person who has presented the document and enquire with him as to whether he has executed the document so presented by him and this power cannot be enlarged by examining the witnesses, scribe...
The Karnataka High Court has said that the power conferred on the registering officer under the Registration Act is fundamentally to enable him to satisfy himself about the identity of the person who has presented the document and enquire with him as to whether he has executed the document so presented by him and this power cannot be enlarged by examining the witnesses, scribe etc.
A single judge bench of Justice N S Sanjay Gowda said,
"If it is held that Registering Officer has the power to summon an executant and enquire from him as to whether he had in fact executed the document or not, that would essentially mean that the registering officer was being clothed with the power to enforce the registration of a document in the same manner as is available to a Civil Court. That is, obviously, impermissible and amounts to conferring the powers of a Civil Court to enforce a contract on the registering officer."
Further the court clarified that, "If an executant does not appear voluntarily and does not admit execution of a sale deed relating to an immovable property, the registering officer cannot summon the executant to ascertain whether the sale deed was indeed executed or not."
It added, "In fact, in such cases, it would be a case of an invalid presentation of the sale deed and such an invalidly presented sale deed cannot be ordered to be registered.
Further it said ,"The remedy contemplated under Section 73 of the Registration Act to the Registrar would be unavailable and even if such a remedy is invoked, the Registrar cannot hold an enquiry to determine whether the executant admitted the execution of the sale deed and order its registration."
The case pertains to a dispute between the Respondents (R.Chennaveeramma and R.Bhagirathamma), who claimed title over the suit property by way of a will executed by their father (C. Rudraiah), and the Appellant (Y. Chikkanna), who claimed to have purchased the said property from Respondents' father.
The Trial Court after considering the evidence, concluded that the Respondents (original plaintiffs) had proved that they were in possession of the suit property and their possession was interfered with by the Respondent. It however held that the Respondents were unable to prove that the sale deed executed in favour of the Appellant was void and was not binding on them.
As against the refusal to declare that they were the owners of the house property and that the sale deed obtained by the Appellant was null and void, the Respondents had preferred an appeal. The Appellate Court decreed the suit filed by Respondents in its entirety and declared them to be the owners in possession of the suit property. It also declared that the sale deed obtained by the Appellant was null and void. The Appellate Court also set aside the decree of possession granted in favour of the Appellant.
Hence, the present appeal was filed before the High Court.
Firstly then bench noted that the Respondents' father was yet to acquire absolute title over the house property (obtained on lease-cum-sale) when he had executed the title and thus, this view of the Appellate Court that the title could not have passed to Appellant on the basis of such a sale deed, cannot be found fault with.
As regards the Housing Board had executed a sale deed in favour of Respondents by virtue of them being the legal heirs of Rudraiah, the bench said ,
"It will have to be stated here that Chikkanna cannot seek benefit available under Section 43, because under Section 43 of the Transfer of Property Act, it is only if a person fraudulently or erroneously represents that he is authorised to transfer the immovable property and transfers it for consideration, the purchaser would get the benefit of any interest that the transferor may acquire subsequently."
It then held, "The Appellate Court was therefore justified in concluding that Rudraiah had no title to convey the house on 03.05.1979 and the basis of Chikkanna's claim of acquiring title was itself untenable, notwithstanding the registration of the sale deed."
Duties of Registering Authority.
The court also in detail discussed the duties of the Registering Authority. It said,
"The registration of a document under the Registration Act, 1908 envisages three stages. The first stage is the time of presentation of a document, which is governed by the provisions of Part IV of the said Act. The second stage is the place of registration, which is governed by the provisions of Part V of the said Act and the third stage is the presenting of documents for registration, which is governed by the provisions of Part VI of the said Act."
The Court noted that from a combined reading of Section 34 and Section 35 of the Registration Act, there is no doubt that a document cannot be registered unless the executant personally appears and thereafter establishes his identity to the registering officer and finally admits the execution of the document before the registering officer.
However, the Court clarified that the only power conferred on the registering officer when the document is presented for registration is to enquire whether the document has been executed and to enquire and satisfy himself regarding the identity of the person appearing before him.
"It is to be noticed here that if a person executing the document does not appear before the registering officer to present the document and admits its execution, the Registering officer cannot be held to have the power to summon the executant to satisfy himself as to whether the document was indeed executed by the executant or not," the Court said.
The bench further opined,
"It is to be kept in mind that an executant of a document is required to voluntarily appear and admit execution of the document. This voluntary act is a reflection of the acceptance of a concluded contract. The requirement of appearing voluntarily to accept the conclusion of a contract cannot be substituted by use of "power to summon" available in a Registering officer to force the appearance of an executant to ascertain the execution and admission of the document."
The Court was of the opinion that a registering officer has a limited role to play in the registration of the document and conferring judicial powers on him would lead to serious and disastrous consequences, especially in this age and time when prices of immovable properties have seen an exponential increase.
It also remarked, "In fact, to accept only the order of the registering officer as proof regarding admission of execution of a person who has been summoned by him, would not only be a risky proposition but would also be susceptible to various kinds of malpractices."
It added, "The question as to whether the statement of the executant, who had been summoned, was voluntary or was under compulsion cannot be left to the discretion and judgment of the Registering Officer. These kinds of anomalous situations which are likely to arise if an executant is allowed to be summoned to enquire into the admission of execution of the document, indicate the dangers that may visit the registration of a document and which could be easily exploited by unscrupulous persons in connivance with registering officers, which is to be avoided at all costs".
Registration of the sale deed in this case is a nullity in the eye of law
The court on going through the records said, "This essentially means that the Registrar has enforced a contract which had only been partly performed and some of the admitted terms of the contract were yet to be fulfilled. Furthermore, a sale deed executed by a person, who had no title over the property as on the date of the presentation of the sale deed, has been ordered to be registered, thereby purporting to convey the title to the buyer."
The court observed, "This is, in fact, a power which is not available or conferred on a Civil Court even under the provisions of the Specific Relief Act. This is, thus obviously, beyond the purview of the Registration Act itself and the resultant registration of a document would have to be necessarily a complete nullity in the eye of law."
Following which it held ,"Since, the registration of the sale deed was a complete nullity in law, the same can have no significance at all and would also confer no rights. In fact, such a null and void act, even if validated by consent of parties, would not transform it into a legal act. It is settled law that an act, which is nullity, does not have to be impugned by way of a suit."
Accordingly it dismissed the appeals.
Case Title: P.C.Padmamba v Channaveeramma R
Case No: R.S.A. No.5/2017
Citation: 2022 Livelaw (Kar) 98
Date Of Order: 25th Day Of March 2022
Appearance: Advocate Krishnamurthy.G. Hasyagar For Appellant
Advocate Pushpakantha, Advocate For R-3)
Click Here To Read/Download Judgment