CHENNAI: An official attempt to curb fraudulent land transactions with the help of fake or outdated power of attorney documents has failed with the Madras high court quashing a circular by the inspector general of registration that said a 'life certificate' to prove that the landowner is alive must be submitted for registering a property.
Giving its ruling on a petition filed by Confederation of Real Estate Developers' Association of India (CREDAI) against the circular, the court said, "When documents are presented for registration based on the general power of attorney after complying with all the requirements under the statute, the parties cannot be made to comply with requirements which are unknown to the statute, as production of 'life certificate' has not been prescribed in the rules."
The court, however, lauded the intention behind the circular, saying: "This court places on record its appreciation of the steps taken by the inspector general of registration in issuing the circular in order to prevent fraudulent registration of documents. The object of the circular is praiseworthy, but in the absence of any legal sanctity attached to it, this court is unable to protect it."
The February 2, 2013 circular said general power of attorney holders must submit a 'life certificate' issued by a registered medical officer or a central/state A-grade officer with a photo at the time of registering the document.
Sathish Parasaran, counsel for CREDAI, argued that when a document is presented after complying with requirements enumerated in the rules, there is no justification in refusing the same for want of a 'life certificate'.
P H Arvindh Pandian, additional advocate general of TN, however, said the circular was issued to safeguard the interests of purchasers of immovable properties from power agents who indulged in fraud by suppressing the death of the landowner or cancellation of the power of attorney.
Justice S Vaidyanathan said though the inspector general had the power to make rules consistent with the Act, it has to be published in official gazette before it takes effect.
"Executive instructions to be followed by subordinates do not have the force of law. Such instructions which are admittedly not in consonance with the statute, cannot be insisted upon to be complied with by the citizens when they abide by the provisions of the statute," he said.
The object of the circular is praiseworthy, but in the absence of any legal sanctity attached to it, this court is unable to protect it.