While Dismissing a Petition under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, the Madras High Court refused to direct the District Registrar to cancel the documents with retrospective effect, finding that the same would result in an anomalous situation, wherein lakhs and lakhs of documents will be placed before the Registrar for its cancellation.

A Single Judge Bench of Justice S. M. Subramaniam observed that “Section 77-A was inserted with effect from 10.08.2022 and there is no express provision for retrospective application of the Amended Act. In the absence of any provision for retrospective application, the documents registered prior to the amendment cannot be cancelled by invoking Section 77-A of the Act”.

Advocate C. D. Sugumar represented the Petitioner whereas Advocate T. Arun Kumar represented the Respondents.

The brief facts of the case were that the petitioner had applied for cancellation of the documents registered during the years 2007 to 2013. The District Registrar however returned the document on the ground that in proceedings Na.Ka.No.5440/E2/2021 dated 25.04.2022, the District Registrar, Vellore has passed an order relegating the petitioner to approach the Civil Court of law and only after obtaining a decree from the Civil Court, actions are to be taken.

After considering the submission, the Bench noted that the event of conducting summary proceedings for the purpose of cancelling the documents was registered long back.

The amendment was made under the Tamil Nadu Act 41 of 2022 with effect from August 2022 and accordingly, Section 77A was inserted, added the Bench.

The Bench also stated that the Court must form an opinion that in respect of the documents falling under Section 22B of the Act, if sought to be cancelled, then the Registrar is empowered to cancel the documents under Section 77A of the Act.

The Bench also highlighted by mentioning Article 59 of the Limitation Act, 1963 that to cancel or set aside any instrument or decree for rescission of a contract, the period of limitation is three years.

Therefore, even for setting aside an instrument or a decree or for rescission of a contract the period of three years has been contemplated under the Limitation Act, the documents registered several years back or decades back cannot be the subject matter for cancellation of those documents under Section 77A of the Act”, added the Bench.

The High Court therefore dismissed the petition and directed the petitioner to approach the competent Civil Court of law for the purpose of declaring the document as null and void or otherwise.

Cause Title: Basha Zathi v. District Registrar, District Registrar Office and Anr. [Neutral Citation: 2023: MHC: 3996]

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