By SR Agarwal, Advocate
Accommodation Times News Services
Every now and then cases are coming to light, wherein the Banks and the Housing Finance Companies, referred to herein as the Financial Institutions , have been defrauded and cheated by availing of the finance or the housing loans on the basis of Agreements for Sale or the Deeds of Assignment relating to the same property and between the same parties registered at different points of time at the different offices of Sub-Registrars in Navi-Mumbai.
Though there may be a couple of cases of human failure, but the root cause is the system of registering the property documents in Navi-Mumbai in any of the offices of Sub-Registrar located at CBD Belapur, Vashi, Kopar-Khairane, Airoli and even at Thane.
In terms of Section 28 of the Registration Act, 1908, every document, to be registered under Section 17 of the said Act, has to be presented for registration in the office of Sub-Registrar within whose sub-district the whole or some portion of the property to which such document relates is situate. In terms of Section 5 of the said Act, the State Government has to form registration districts and sub-districts and to prescribe the limits of such districts and sub-districts for the purposes of the registration of the documents and in terms of Section 7 of the said Act, the State Government has to establish in every district an office to be styled the office of the Registrar and in every sub-district an office or offices to be styled the office of the Sub-Registrar or the offices of Joint Sub-Registrars.
In the year 2005, the State Government issued a Notification dated 31.10.2005 under Section 5 of the said Act, whereby the State Government formed two districts as Thane(Urban) and Thane(Rural) out of the revenue district of Thane and a major portion of Navi-Mumbai forms part of Thane(Urban) registration district. As per this Notification, the Government established two offices of Registrars one at Thane known as Thane-1 and another at Kalyan known as Kalyan-1 for Thane(Urban) and one office at Bhiwandi known as Bhiwandi-1 in Thane(Rural) for the purposes of registration of the documents. However, by another Notification of the same data under Section 7 of the said Act, Government established 13 offices of Joint Sub-Registrars for Thane(Urban) and one office for Thane(Rural) treating Thane(Urban) and Thane (Rural) as registration sub-districts. Out of 15 offices of Registrars and Joint Sub-Registrars for Thane (Urban) as many as 5 offices of Joint Sub-Registrars have been established in the various nodes in Navi-Mumbai alone.
These 13 offices of Joint Sub-Registrars for Thane (Urban) have been established by the State Government, presumably, on the understanding of the provisions of Section 7 of the Act that more than one office may be established even for one sub-district, which does not seem to be the legislative intention of the said provision, if read in conjunction with the provisions of Section 28 of the said Act and keeping in view the letter and spirit of these provisions, only one office of Sub-Registrar is meant for every registration sub-district.
The understanding of the State Government of the said provision and specifying the whole area of Thane (Urban) registration district as registration sub-district and establishing a number of offices, styled as the offices of Joint Sub-Registrars, with the concurrent jurisdiction, is the main reason for the multiple registration of the property documents pertaining to the same properties and between the same parties in different offices of Sub-Registrars. The areas of various nodes of Navi-Mumbai are well specified by CIDCO, designated as the Development Authority for the area, as well as Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation and, therefore, if the areas of registration sub-districts is curtailed and restricted to coincide with the area of each node or a group of localities, a property document from a particular node or area could only be registered by the office of Jopint Sub-Registrar located in that area itself, specified as the sub-district in terms of Section 28 of the said Act, and this multiplicity of registration of the property documents may be put to an end. The similar position is prevailing in other districts of Maharashtra such as Mumbai, Pune, Nagpur, Nashik and so on. The misuse of this system by vested interest is anybody’s guess.
Other alternative could be that no document should be allowed to be registered without attaching a non-encumbrance certificate to be issued by the office of Sub-Registrar, as the system is now computerized and all the offices of Sub-Registrars in a particular registration district may be inter-connected online. It is learnt that in Tamil Nadu and some other southern states NEC are issued by the offices of Sub-Registrars and the same system may be followed in the State of Maharashtra.
For avoiding the fraud case because of this system lacunae, the matter stands referred to Reserve Bank of India, the Apex Regulatory Authority of our country, to take up the issue with the State Government to do away with the concurrent jurisdiction of the offices of Joint Sub-Registrars, as permitted by the said Notification under Section 7 of the said Act.