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Sunday, December 26, 2010

Registration of a Document & Admissibility in Evidence : The Law

Justice Mathur
The Supreme Court in K.B. Saha & Sons v. Development Consultant Ltd. has explained the law pertaining to Registration of Documents and its effect on the admissibility of such unregistered documents in evidence. While examining the various sections of the Indian Registration Act and the Indian Evidence Act, the court opined that though a document, being unregistered, cannot be admitted in evidence, the same can be looked into for collateral purposes. The analysis of the law, as aforesaid, enabled the Bench to cull out the principles involved, while dealing with unregistered documents. The relevant extracts from this judgment are reproduced hereinbelow; 

15. Section 49 clearly provides that a document purporting to be a lease and required to be registered under Section 107 will not be admissible in evidence if the same is not registered. Proviso to this section, however, as noted hereinabove, provides that an unregistered lease deed may be looked into as evidence of collateral facts. Mr. Mukherjee, learned Counsel for the appellant argued before us that the tenancy in question was exclusively granted for the benefit of the named officer and his family and unless the landlord gave his consent, no other person could use it and such condition in the lease agreement is admissible for ascertaining the purpose of allotting the suit premises which according to the appellant is a collateral fact.

16. Having heard the learned Counsel for the appellant, we are of the view that the decision of this Court in Smt. Juthika Mullick's case [supra], on which strong reliance was placed by the learned Counsel for the appellant is of no help to the appellant because as rightly pointed out by the High Court, the said decision was based on a registered deed of lease. In Smt. Juthika Mulick's case [supra], as noted herein earlier, it has been held that the language of Section 13 of the Act makes it clear that notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained in any other law, an order or decree for the recovery of possession of any premises shall be made by the court in favour of the landlord against a tenant on the grounds mentioned in that section. It was further observed that in view of the language of Section 13(1) of the Act, the parties have freedom to contract out of the Section. In the aforesaid judgment of this Court, on which strong reliance was placed by the appellant, the fact was that the predecessor-in-interest of the respondents in that appeal leased out the premises in question in favour of one Lal Bihari Mulick in a registered deed of lease at a monthly rental of Rs. 160/- and the lease deed contained a covenant that the lease was for the lifetime of the lessee and his heirs, executors, administrators, representatives and the heirs must yield up and deliver quiet, peaceful and vacant possession of the demised premises within three months from the date of death of the lessee unconditionally and without any objection whatsoever. It was further stipulated that they shall have no right to handover the demised premises after the said period under any circumstances. The lessee died on 16th of December, 1970 and his heirs did not deliver vacant possession in favour of the lessors or their successors in interest and this necessitated filing of the suit for eviction of the defendants. In that decision, the main defence raised in the written statement was that the original lessee Lal Bihari Mulick, having died on 16th of December, 1970, the registered lease dated 11th of July, 1966 shall fall under the category of the West Bengal Premises Tenancy Act and the tenants were residing in the demised premises with the said lessee namely Lal Bihari Mullick during his lifetime became monthly tenants under the plaintiffs of that case by operation of law. In view of the aforesaid facts and considering the fact that the aforesaid decision of this Court was rendered on the basis of a registered lease deed, we are of the view that the said decision is clearly distinguishable from the present case because of the fact that in the present case, there was no registered deed of lease nor was there any such covenant as mentioned hereinabove. Therefore, we do not find any ground to place any reliance on the aforesaid decision of this Court.

17. As we have already noted that under the proviso to Section 49 of the Registration Act, an unregistered document can also be admitted into evidence for a collateral fact/collateral purpose, let us now look at the meaning of "collateral purpose" and then ascertain whether Clause 9 of the lease agreement can be looked into for such collateral purpose. In Haran Chandra Chakrvarti v. Kaliprasanna Sarkar AIR 1932 Cal 83(2), it was held that the terms of a compulsorily registrable instrument are nothing less than a transaction affecting the property comprised in it. It was also held that to use such an instrument for the purpose of proving such a term would not be using it for a collateral purpose and that the question as to who is the tenant and on what terms he has been created a tenant are not collateral facts but they are important terms of the contract of tenancy, which cannot be proved by admission of an unregistered lease-deed into evidence.

18. The High Court in the impugned Judgment relied on a decision of the Allahabad High Court in the case of Ratan Lal and Ors. v. Harisankar and Ors.MANU/UP/0198/1980 : AIR1980All180 to hold that since the appellant wanted to extinguish the right of the respondent with the help of the unregistered tenancy, the same was not a collateral purpose. In Ratan lal's case [supra], while discussing the meaning of the term "Collateral Purpose", the High Court had observed as follows:

The second contention was that the partition deed, even if it was not registered could certainly be looked into for a collateral purpose, but the collateral purpose has a limited scope and meaning. It cannot be used for the purpose of saying that the deed created or declared or assigned or limited or extinguish the right to immovable property...term collateral purpose would not permit the party to establish any of these acts from the deed.

19. In the case of Bajaj Auto Limited v. Behari Lal Kohli MANU/SC/0327/1989 : [1989]3SCR730 , this Court observed that if a document is inadmissible for non-registration, all its terms are inadmissible including the one dealing with landlord's permission to his tenant to sub-let. It was also held in that decision that if a decree purporting to create a lease is inadmissible in evidence for want of registration, none of the terms of the lease can be admitted in evidence and that to use a document for the purpose of proving an important clause in the lease is not using it as a collateral purpose. Again this Court in Rai Chand Jain v. Chandra Kanta Khosla MANU/SC/0185/1991 : AIR1991SC744 reiterated the above and observed in paragraph 10 as under:

...the lease deed Ex. P1 dated 19th May, 1978 executed both by the appellant and the respondent i.e. the landlady and the tenant, Rai Chand Jain, though unregistered can be considered for collateral purposes and as such the findings of the Appellate Authority to the effect that the said deed cannot be used for collateral purposes namely to show that the purpose was to lease out the demised premises for residential purposes of the tenant only is not at all legally correct. It is well settled that unregistered lease executed by both the parties can be looked into for collateral purposes. In the instant case the purpose of the lease is evident from the deed itself which is as follows: "The lessor hereby demises House No. 382, Sector 30-A, Chandigarh, to lessee for residential purposes only". This clearly evinces that the property in question was let out to the tenant for his residence only....

20. In the case of Rana Vidya Bhushan Singh v. Ratiram MANU/SC/0562/1969, the following has been laid down:

A document required by law to be registered, if unregistered, is inadmissible as evidence of a transaction affecting immovable property, but it may be admitted as evidence of collateral facts, or for any collateral purpose, that is for any purpose other than that of creating, declaring, assigning, limiting or extinguishing a right to immovable property. As stated by Mulla in his Indian Registration Act, 7th En., at p. 189:
The High Courts of Calcutta, Bombay, Allahabad, Madras, Patna, Lahore, Assam, Nagpur, Pepsu, Rajasthan, Orissa, Rangoon and Jammu & Kashmir; the former Chief Court of Oudh; the Judicial Commissioner's Court of Peshawar, Ajmer and Himachal Pradesh and the Supreme Court have held that a document which requires registration under Section 17 and which is not admissible for want of registration to prove a gift or mortgage or sale or lease is nevertheless admissible to prove the character of the possession of the person who holds under it.
21. From the principles laid down in the various decisions of this Court and the High Courts, as referred to hereinabove, it is evident that:

1. A document required to be registered, if unregistered is not admissible into evidence under Section 49 of the Registration Act.

2. Such unregistered document can however be used as an evidence of collateral purpose as provided in the Proviso to Section 49 of the Registration Act.

3. A collateral transaction must be independent of, or divisible from, the transaction to effect which the law required registration.

4. A collateral transaction must be a transaction not itself required to be effected by a registered document, that is, a transaction creating, etc. any right, title or interest in immoveable property of the value of one hundred rupees and upwards.

5. If a document is inadmissible in evidence for want of registration, none of its terms can be admitted in evidence and that to use a document for the purpose of proving an important clause would not be using it as a collateral purpose.


  1. Dear Sir, my late grandfather is an ex-lessee of a property and before the property was re-entered he through an unregistered court decree gave half portion to his brother who demised recently, kindly let me know whether his heirs have right to the property.

  2. legal opinion on register lease deed.
    in which cases/circumstances register lease deed can be invalid ?

  3. In which circumstances register lease deed will be null and avoid ?
    Who is the competent authorities to cancelled the register lease deed?

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