The court suggested constituting a tribunal to take a final call on the cancellation of deeds
The Madras High Court has said that fraudulent registration of sale deeds in the State have only reduced and not stopped completely despite several measures taken over the years by the Registration Department.
Justice R. Suresh Kumar suggested the constitution of a tribunal, headed by a retired High Court judge and comprising two members — one from the Registration Department and another from the Revenue Department — to take a final call on the cancellation of registered documents. The judge said that the tribunal could be treated as a civil court and its decisions could be considered as a declaration over the title of property. The judge said that the Code of Civil Procedure could be made applicable to the tribunal. “It would be a viable and effective alternative redressal forum for a number of persons who have been hitherto driven from pillar to post for retrieval of their valuable immovable properties, which they acquired either by way of inheritance or out of their legally hard-earned fortune,” he said.
The suggestion was made after taking note that the Legislative Assembly had passed a Bill on September 2 for amending the Registration Act of 1908 and empowering the Registrar to cancel documents registered in contravention of the Act’s provisions.
The amendment states that orders passed by the Registrar on a plea to cancel a registered document could be appealed before the Inspector General of Registration (IGR) within 30 days.
A further appeal would lie before the State government within 60 days of the order passed by the IGR. Wondering whether the decision taken by the IGR or the State government would amount to deciding the title over the property, the judge suggested constitution of tribunals in order to have an effective judicial or quasi-judicial mechanism. “The decision to be made by the tribunal may be treated as final for all practical purposes,” he said.
The judge also noted that the Bill passed on September 2 also empowers the registering authority to refuse to register forged documents and prescribes three years of imprisonment for registering documents in contravention of the Act. Since the amendment was yet to come to force, till then the victims of fraudulent registration would have no choice but to approach civil courts and get embroilled in a long drawn process to get the deeds cancelled, the judge held.
He pointed out that as per the law in force, no registered document could be cancelled by the registering authorities, and that power was vested exclusively with civil courts.