W.P. (MD) Nos. 5908, 3247, 15361, 8003, 13056, 13057, 13516, 13634, 10807, 13889 and 14022 of 2012, 331, 454, 1946, 1947, 3681, 3682, 9075, 16712, 17057, 3095 of 2013, 2611, 3450, 3692, 10921, 12204 and 12894 of 2012, 1627, 2027, 2028, 2181, 2811, 3578, 3651, 4101, 10415, 11280, 14835, 15488, 16606 and 17231 of 2013 and Contempt Petition (MD) .... Case: Ramasamy Vs State of Tamil Nadu. High Court of Madras (India)

Case NumberW.P. (MD) Nos. 5908, 3247, 15361, 8003, 13056, 13057, 13516, 13634, 10807, 13889 and 14022 of 2012, 331, 454, 1946, 1947, 3681, 3682, 9075, 16712, 17057, 3095 of 2013, 2611, 3450, 3692, 10921, 12204 and 12894 of 2012, 1627, 2027, 2028, 2181, 2811, 3578, 3651, 4101, 10415, 11280, 14835, 15488, 16606 and 17231 of 2013 and Contempt Petition (MD) ...
CounselFor Appellant: K. Singan, Jessi Jeevapriya, M. Saravanan, S. Deenadhayalan, R. Suriyanarayanan, V. Nagendran and K.K. Senthil, Advocates and For Respondents: Ganapathy Subramanian, Advocate and Chellapandian, Additional Advocate General assisted by R. Karthikeyan, Additional Government Pleader
JudgesT. Riga, J.
IssueGeneral Clauses Act 1897 - Section 21; Indian Succession Act, 1925 - Section 141
Citation2014 (4) CTC 627, 2014 (4) LW 221, 2014 (6) MLJ 430
Judgement DateJuly 17, 2014
CourtHigh Court of Madras (India)


T. Riga, J.

  1. In the present Batch of Writ Petitions, one set of individuals question the correctness and legal validity of Circular No. 67: dated 3.11.2011, in C. No. 52338/C1/2011 and the consequential Annulment Orders passed by the District Registrars concerned on the basis of the said Circular, cancelling the registered documents, while others seek for ordering an enquiry based upon the Circular relating to the alleged fraudulent registrations complained by them with the Registration Department through representations. Since all these matters revolve around Circular No. 67: dated 3.11.2011, they have been heard together and now, disposed of by this Common Order.

  2. Though arguments have been advanced by different learned Counsel for the Petitioners both against and in favour of the Circular in question, at the first instance, it is desirable to deal with the submissions assailing the impugned Circular and, in that perspective, the case and cause projected by Mr. V. Singan, learned Counsel appearing for the Petitioner in W.P. (MD) No. 5908 of 2012 are projected below.

    The Petitioner in the above Writ Petition by name Ramasamy, who executed a Sale Deed on 6.5.2011 in favour of one Malar, W/o. Kandasamy and a resident of Kalappakadu Village, Aranthangi Town and Taluk, Pudukottai District, on the basis of a power document executed in his favour by one Kaliaperumal on 3.5.2011, has suffered annulment of the said registered document dated 6.5.2011 as per Order No. 7048/A1/2011, dated 17.4.2012, passed by the District Registrar, Pudukottai, after recording a finding that the said document has been executed by playing fraud and that all the supporting documents in the nature of power, preceding the document of sale, are also tainted.

    In this background, further highlighting certain other core facts, Mr. V. Singan would add that Respondent No. 5/C.N. Mathava Rao of Nanganallur claimed a rival title to the property, covered by the above Sale Deed that was executed in favour of Malar, on the basis of an unregistered Will alleged to have been executed by the previous owner-Pramila in his favour on 22.2.2007. In this regard, a Civil Suit in O.S. No. 118 of 2011 is also pending on the file of the Sub-Court, Pudukottai. The fact remains that the alleged Will based on which R-5 claims title to the property is an unregistered Will and further, the Will was not probated as contemplated under Section 141 of the Indian Succession Act and hence, it cannot be admitted at all in evidence. The said Will being a forged document, on account of the rival claim over the Suit property between the Petitioner and R-5, the former filed Crl. O.P. No. 10227 of 2011 impleading the latter as a party and obtained an Order that the Police should not unnecessarily harass him. In addition thereto, the purchaser of the property - Malar also obtained an Order in Crl. O.P. No. 6961 of 2011 on the file of this Court, directing the Police at Pudukottai to register the Complaint that was lodged by her seeking investigation. Besides, Malar also filed W.P. (MD) No. 7655 of 2011 on the file of this Court and the Police, after investigation, found that there is rivalry and dispute between the parties relating to the property involved in the sale, whereupon, this Court disposed of the Writ Petition after recording the statement of the Police that the enquiry relating to the Complaint given by R-5 was dropped in view of the Civil dispute between the parties. While so, due to pressure, the Police attached to the Land Grabbing Prevention Cell at Pudukottai registered a Complaint in Crime No. 4 of 2012 against the Petitioner and others. Consequently, the Petitioner and two others were arrested and remanded to judicial custody and later, they have been released on bail under the Orders of the District Court, Pudukkottai, and rest of the persons against whom FIR was filed have obtained Anticipatory Bail from this Court by Orders passed in Crl. O.P.(MD) No. 2977 of 2012. The persons against whom FIR has been filed have also preferred Crl. O.P. (MD) No. 4369 of 2012 on the file of this Court and the same is also sub judice. From the above factual background, learned Counsel would point out that when the matter relating to the above said property and the title thereto is under serious investigation, the 3rd Respondent/District Registrar, Pudukottai, has erroneously passed the impugned Annulment Order dated 17.4.2012, nullifying the document of sale, dated 6.5.2011, in favour of purchaser-Malar that too without recording any plausible finding that the said document was executed by playing fraud. When the impugned Circular itself does not have any legal basis to stand, the Order of Annulment passed on the strength of the said Circular warrants absolute interference by this Court.

    While sharply attacking the impugned Circular, learned Counsel referred to Section 69 of the Tamil Nadu Registration Act (in short 'Act') which empowers the Inspector General of Registration (in short 'IGR') to exercise general superintendence over all the registration offices in the territories under the State Government and pointed out that, as prescribed in Sub-section (2) of the said provision, unless any Rule made by the IGR while exercising powers under Section 69 is submitted to the Government for approval and after approval, the same is published in the Official Gazette so as to have effect on publication in the Gazette as if enacted in the Act, no Rule made by him would have any legal sanctity. According to the learned Counsel, admittedly, no such course as outlined in Section 69(2) was adopted and by simply issuing the impugned Circular No. 67: a new Rule is illegally set in motion. It is argued that even though it is said that only based on certain precedents of the Andhra Pradesh High Court and the Apex Court, the Circular came to be passed, yet, the same cannot stand to legal scrutiny for the reason that the manner in which the power has been exercised by the registration department smacks of the ill-motive and hence, both the impugned Circular as well as the consequential Annulment Orders are wholly unsustainable in law. In other words, the Circular neither derives authority and force from any statute nor it came into existence after proper approval by the State Government.

    Further assailing the Circular, learned Counsel would submit that it actually confers omnibus powers upon the registration officials to invariably cancel any document on the basis of their own subjective satisfaction without even any appreciation of the objective particulars involved. In its essence and efficacy, the Circular is in the nature of displacing the authority of the Civil and Criminal Courts in adjudicating upon the disputed questions of title between rival Claimants, thereby, it vests the judicial power in an Executive Authority. In that perspective, it over-runs and over-reaches the power of the Civil Court and annuls all the Civil litigations by the single stroke of a pen. Also, it is not channelized by any legal safeguards for the persons whose interests in property are sought to be affected by the executive order to be passed by the officials of the Registration Department.

    By way of an illustration, it is stated that if any one, who enters into a bona fide transaction with reference to a property, is alleged by an unscrupulous Complainant, with ulterior motives, as an Accused attempting to grab the property covered by the registered document, the Registration Authorities, by merely taking shelter under the impugned Circular, without even proper adjudication of the dispute with regard to original ownership and tile over the property in question, can annul the registered document. When such issue can be dealt with only by a judicial forum on the basis of oral and documentary evidence, the Circular is in the nature of vesting the powers of Civil and Criminal courts as well as police with one Single Authority i.e., Registration Department, thereby, the unbridled power can be easily misused for the reason that 'absolutely power corrupts absolutely'. Therefore, neither the impugned Circular nor the impugned Annulment Order is sustainable in law.

    Drawing support from a Judgment of the Punjab and Haryana High Court in Valid Family Charitable Trust & anr. v. State of Haryana & ors., AIR 2012 P & H 1, he would submit that so long as there was no issue regarding whether there was an admission of execution in the manner required by law and the person that executed the document had actually admitted the same, the Registering Authority had no power to deny registration. Moreover, when a document had actually been executed, the Registering Authority has no power to cancel the registration of the Sale Deed.

    By placing reliance upon a decision of this Court in Ramaswamy...

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