The Patna High Court has held that an unregistered sale agreement can still be used as evidence in a lawsuit seeking specific performance of an agreement.

The Court dismissed a Civil Revision challenging the order of the Trial Court, wherein a Petition to reject the plaint was dismissed. Musmat Shanti Devi contended that the plaint was liable to be dismissed as it was based on an unregistered sale deed, which violated Section 17 (1A) of the Registration Act, 1908 (Act).

The Bench of Justice Sunil Dutta Mishra observed, “It is clear from the above that even where the sale agreement is not registered, the document can be received as evidence for considering the relief of specific performance”.

Advocate Awadhesh Prasad Sinha appeared for the Petitioner and Advocate Deepak Kumar appeared for the Respondent.

The Respondent had filed a suit for specific performance of a sale deed against the Petitioners. The Petitioner had filed a petition under Order 7 Rule 11 of the CPC seeking to have the plaint rejected. The Petitioner contended that the suit was based on an unregistered sale deed, which violated Section 17 (1A) of the Registration Act, 1908 (Act). However, the Trial Court dismissed the Petition. Aggrieved, the Petitioners approached the High Court by way of a Civil Revision challenging the order.

The Court reiterated the principle that a plaint should only be rejected if it fails to disclose a cause of action. This means that the plaint must be read as a whole and assumed to be true, and if it presents a valid legal claim, it cannot be rejected. While registration is generally required for documents like sale agreements, unregistered documents can still be admitted as evidence in specific performance suits. The Transfer of Property Act provides specific protection to registered agreements, but even unregistered agreements can be considered by the court for specific performance.

A document is required to be registered, but if unregistered, can still be admitted in evidence of a contract in a suit for specific performance… When protection is sought for under Section 53-A, law expects that the sale agreement can be acted upon only if it is registered”, the Bench added.

Additionally, the Court observed that the Respondent's plaint discloses a cause of action and cannot be dismissed at this early stage.

The Court noted that it is not concerned with the correctness of the claims mentioned in the plaint at this point, but only with whether they have established a prima facie case. The Court also clarified that the genuineness, validity, and binding nature of the documents will be determined later in the trial after both parties have presented their evidence.

Accordingly, the Court dismissed the Civil Revision.

Cause Title: Musmat Shanti Devi v Lallu Ram

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