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Registered Document Is Presumed To Be Genuine; Onus To Prove Otherwise Is On Person Who Challenges It, Reiterates Supreme Court

Ashok Kini
16 Nov 2020 1:38 PM GMT
Registered Document Is Presumed To Be Genuine; Onus To Prove Otherwise Is On Person Who Challenges It, Reiterates Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court has reiterated that a document is presumed to be genuine if the same is registered and the onus to prove otherwise is on the person who challenged the stated registered document.In the suit filed in the year 2001, the plaintiff's case was that the defendants sought her signatures on blank papers in the year 1990 under the guise of preparation and processing of documents for...

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The Supreme Court has reiterated that a document is presumed to be genuine if the same is registered and the onus to prove otherwise is on the person who challenged the stated registered document.

In the suit filed in the year 2001, the plaintiff's case was that the defendants sought her signatures on blank papers in the year 1990 under the guise of preparation and processing of documents for the purpose of getting the estate left behind by their father mutated in their names. This suit was dismissed by the Trial Court and the First Appellate Court. The High Court, reversed the concurrent findings of and decreed the suit.

In appeal, the issue arose before the Apex Court was was whether a General power of Attorney and sale deeds purported to have been executed by the plaintiff in the year 1900 is a result of fraud and forgery? While examining this question, the bench noted the dictum in Prem Singh and Ors. v. Birbal 8 (2006) 5 SCC 353 that there is a presumption that a registered document is validly executed. The court also noted the decision in Anil Rishi v. Gurbaksh Singh (2006) 5 SCC 558, wherein it was held that for shifting the burden of proof, it would require more than merely pleading that the relationship is a fiduciary one and it must be proved by producing tangible evidence. Referring to the evidence on record,  the bench concluded that plaintiff had failed to prove the fact of misuse of trust by the defendants as such. 

Another issue in this appeals was whether the suits filed by the plaintiff were within limitation. The court, in this regard, also discussed the effect of fraud on limitation as prescribed in Section 17 of the Limitation Act, 1963. The bench comprising Justices AM Khanwilkar and Dinesh Maheshwari said:

"Therefore, for invoking Section 17 of the 1963 Act, two ingredients have to be pleaded and duly proved. One is existence of a fraud and the other is discovery of such fraud. In the present case, since the plaintiff failed to establish the existence of fraud, there is no occasion for its discovery. Thus, the plaintiff cannot be extended the benefit under the said provision."

While allowing the appeal and setting aside the High Court judgment, the bench further observed:

In the present cases, though the discrepancies in the 1990 GPA are bound to create some doubt, however, in absence of any tangible evidence produced by the plaintiff to support the plea of fraud, it does not take the matter further. Rather, in this case the testimony of the attesting witness, scribe and other independent witnesses plainly support the case of the defendants. That evidence dispels the doubt if any; and tilt the balance in favour of the defendants. 81. Suffice it to observe that since the plaintiff could not establish the existence of fraud, it must follow that the suits are ex­facie barred by limitation. 82. As to the title of the subsequent purchasers, since the 1990 GPA had been proved, there is no reason to doubt their bonafides."
Case: Rattan Singh vs.Nirmal Gill [CIVIL APPEAL NOS. 3681­3682 OF 2020]
Coram: Justices AM Khanwilkar and Dinesh Maheshwari, 
Counsel: Sr. Adv T.S. Doabia, Advocates Jagjit Singh Chhabra,Subhashish Bhowmik

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