Read Judgment: Veena Singh (Dead) Through LR v. The District Registrar/Additional Collector (F/R) And Another 

Tulip Kanth

New Delhi, May 12, 2022: Observing that the execution of a document does not stand admitted merely because a person admits to having signed the document, the Supreme Court has held that the decision of the Registrar in ordering or refusing to register a document is not conclusive and such decision is amenable to judicial review.

Clarifying that the execution of a document does not stand admitted merely because a person admits to having signed the document, the Larger Bench of Justice D.Y.Chandrachud, A.S.Bopanna and Justice Bela M.Trivedi asserted, “Therefore, in a situation where an individual admits their signature on a document but denies its execution, the Sub-Registrar is bound to refuse registration in accordance with Sections 35(3)(a) of the Registration Act.”

In this case, the appellant was alleged to have entered into two agreements with a developer – Gujral Associates, who is the second respondent in the present appeal. The first one was allegedly a development agreement which was disputed by the second respondent and the second one was an agreement to sell.The execution and registration of this sale deed forms the bedrock of the dispute in the present appeal.When the second respondent filed an application seeking permission to execute the sale deed, the appellant appeared before the Sub- Registrar submitted an objection with a request not to execute the incomplete and forged sale deed in favour of the second respondent.

The Sub-Registrar having refused to order the registration of the sale deed, the second respondent instituted an appeal under Section 72 of the Registration Act, 1908.  Consequently,  by an order dated March 31, 2012, the District Registrar held that the appellant had admitted her signature on the document and the second respondent was entitled to get the sale deed registered. On an FIR registered by the appellant against the proprietors of the second respondent and the matter reaching the Single Judge,the writ petition of the appellant was dismissed by while leaving it open to the appellant to move the civil court for a declaration that the sale deed had been obtained by fraud and was a nullity. Hence, this appeal was filed.

The Division Bench was of the opinion that if a person by whom the document is purported to be executed denies its execution and registration is refused on those grounds, an appeal against the order of the Sub-Registrar denying execution would not be maintainable under Section 72 of the Registration Act. The Bench enumerated the main observations made in the judgment of the High Court. The High Court held that having found in the course of the enquiry that the sale deed was duly prepared by a scribe, the attesting witness had stated that the sale deed was signed by the appellant and she also placed her fingerprints in their presence and so it was open to the Registrar to direct registration in spite of a denial of its execution by the appellant. 

Thus, the Bench opined that the Single Judge of the High Court had conflated the mere signing of the sale deed with its execution and the overall approach of the High Court was erroneous and could not be accepted. The Apex Court allowed the appeal, set aside the impugned judgment of the Single Judge as well as the order passed by the District Registrar on March 31, 2012.

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