The Madras High Court has directed the registration authorities to return the registered sale deed documents to land owners, whose sale deeds were rejected citing objections raised under the Registration Act.
The court gave the direction while observing that the officials cannot refuse to register or return registered sale deeds of land to buyers, merely because a religious institution or a local body raises objection to the same, under Section 22-A of the Registration (Tamil Nadu Amendment) Act, 2008.
A division bench comprising justices S Nagamuthu and Anita Sumanth, made the observations on a batch of writ petitions filed by buyers of land. If such objections are made, the registering authority shall issue notice to the parties concerned, hold an inquiry and if there is enough material to prove that the land belongs to a religious institution, he shall refuse to register such a deed, it said.
The bench further noted that if objections are rejected and deeds registered, remedy for the religious institution is to approach either a civil court or high court for declaration of title. The petitioners had submitted that in some cases, registered sale deeds were not returned to the buyers but, in all cases, sub-registrars had passed one-line orders of rejection.
The clause, Section 22-A, was introduced by the Tamil Nadu government, to empower registrars to refuse to register sale, mortgage, exchange or lease of lands, if they belonged to local authorities or religious institutions. Recording the submissions, the Madras HC bench said, “We are conscious of the fact that there is no explicit provision in the Act, for issuing such notice to the parties by the registering authority and to hold summary inquiry. However, that would not deprive the parties concerned to have sufficient opportunity in principles of natural justice which is mandatory, as refusing to register a document results in civil consequences,” the judges said.
Referring to the orders passed by the registering authorities, the bench said, “The orders are one-line orders, which do not even contain the reasons to refuse. These are all non-speaking orders, which can be classified as arbitrary orders. Arbitrariness is opposed to rule of law,” it added.