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For registering sale deeds of fragmented land, a sanctioned layout is not required: Bombay High Court

The decision that a sanctioned layout not to be used compulsorily while registering sale documents for property parcels that are less than the required area allowed under the Maharashtra Prevention of Fragmentation and Consolidation of Holdings Act, 1947 is upheld by the High Court of Bombay through the learned bench led by HONOURABLE JUSTICE R. D. DHANUKA & HONOURABLE JUSTICE S. G. MEHARE, in the case of Govind Ramling Solpure & Ors. Versus The State of Maharashtra & Ors. (WRIT PETITION NO. 2111 OF 2022).

FACTS OF THE CASE- Brief facts of the case are that the concerned Sub-Registrar denied the Petitioners’ request to register sale deeds in respect of specific land parcels on the grounds that the sale deeds were in contravention of the Circular. Disappointed by this decision, the Petitioners filed a petition with the Bombay High Court, requesting that Rule 44(1)(i) be declared unconstitutional under Sections 34, 35, and 69 of the Registration Act, 1908 (Registration Act), and that the Circular issued under the said Rule be invalidated and set aside. The court now has to decide whether Rule 44(1)(i) of the Registration Act is consistent with Sections 34 and 35 of the Act, and whether the Circular is legitimate and binding on the registering authorities and the inhabitants of the state. In addition, the High Court had to assess whether the Maharashtra Inspector General of Registration and Controller of Stamps had the legislative authority to issue the Circular, and whether the Circular was in violation of Sections 34 and 35 of the Registration Act.

The Court held that the Registration Act’s provisions (particularly Sections 34, 35, and 69) do not empower the State Government to direct the Sub-Registrar, who is the statutory authority under the Registration Act, to cease the registration of a document due to a breach of any terms and conditions under the Act or any other law. Obtaining a prior No Objection Certificate/sanctioned layout from the appropriate authorities is not a requirement for document registration. The Court went on to say that the scope of the registering authority’s investigation under Sections 34 and 35 of the Registration Act is restricted to only a few factors. Those factors are, the factum of execution of the document, the identity of persons appearing before the registering authorities, and the right of such person to appear if a person presents through a representative or agent as per section 34 and the procedure for admission or rejection of execution of the relevant document under Section 35.

The Court referred to the Supreme Court’s judgement in State of Rajasthan and Ors. v Basant Nahata to underline that subordinate law cannot contradict the parent Act’s provisions. Subordinate legislation that is not supported by any statutory guideline under substantive law and is adverse to the execution of a legal right is not valid. As a result, the Inspector General of Registration and Stamps had no authority to enact subordinate legislation that contradicted the parent Act, the Registration Act. Even Section 69 of the Registration Act, which gives the State Government the authority to make rules, emphasises that the rules must not be in conflict with the Registration Act’s requirements. In this case, the Court also cited its recent decision in Laxmi Ishwar More v State of Maharashtra and Ors. and Gopal s/o. Dwarkaprasad Pande v District Collector, Bhandara and Anr. wherein it was held that Section 34 of the Registration Act clearly prescribes the scope of inquiry to be made by the registering authority before registering a document, and that such inquiry is limited to the verification of the document’s execution, the identity of persons/representatives/agents appearing before the registering authority, and not to ascertain the facts and contents of the document, or to demand and authenticate sanction plans. The Court also cited its prior decision in M/s. Sundarsons v State of Maharashtra, in which it read Sections 34 and 35 of the Registration Act and concluded that the Collector has no authority to direct the Sub-Registrar to decline a document’s registration under those provisions.

JUDGEMENT- As a result, the High Court in this case determined that the Sub-Registrar is not an adjudicating body and does not have the ability to determine whether the transaction that is the subject of the document placed for registration is properly executed or forbidden by law. The court directed that Rule 44(1)(i) be read down and determined that it was inapplicable. It further concluded that while registering papers under Section 34 read with Section 35 of the Registration Act, the registering authority is not required to insist on the compliance with conditions set under Rule 44(1)(i). The court said that the registration authority cannot reject any document on the basis of non-compliance with the Circular’s conditions or Rule 44(1)(i).

JUDGEMENT REVIEWED BY- ATIVA GOSWAMI

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