Scams occur as titles not probed
Registrars are not mandated with inquiring into land titles under the Stamps and Registration Act, thus giving scope for the registration department to indulge in irregularities. This is the reason why properties in dispute continue to be registered and land scams, such as the unfolding `587 crore Miyapur scam, continue to occur.
The Stamps and Registration Act, 1908, empowered Registrars to
prima facie verify the marketable title in the documents produced before them as well as to check whether the required stamp duty has been duly paid or not before the registration. But the Registrar’s mandate ends there.
“It is duty of the Registrar to look into the documents produced before him for registration whether or not the property has a marketable value. But the Registrar has no power or duty entrusted on him in the Act to verify whether there is any dispute with regard to the title of the land,” explained N. Sreedhar Reddy, advocate and former special government pleader for the Revenue department at the Hyderabad High Court.
He said that the Registrar can only refuse to register the property in cases where a competent court has granted an injunction against registering a particular property or if the property is in a prohibitory list.
This lack of a mandate to inquire into land titles is the main loophole allowing scams to occur, he contends.
But other lawyers disagree. Although there is no explicit mandate for the Registrar to inquire into land titles under the Stamps and Registration Act, it does give the Registrar reasonable powers to avoid fraudulent registrations, says high court lawyer A. Santosh Kumar, charging that it is Regist-rars’connivance with land grabbers that leads to scams.
The Registrar has the power, for instance, to withhold registration and simply provide a ‘pending registration’ number if he has doubts over title deeds and can ask the parties involved to produce records with regard to the title of the property.