Liability of a registering officer under the Registration Act 1908 (August, 2018, Issue 1)

August 11, 2018, by Junayed Chowdhury

The aim and objective of the registration of an immovable property under the Registration Act 1908 (“the Act”) is to protect the immovable property from fraud and forgery during the transfer. The question that arises here is to what extent does the Act hold registering authority liable for registering documents without conducting a due diligence?


The Act, on several occasions, mentions the roles and the responsibilities of registering officers which shows how a registering officer plays a pivotal part in furtherance of the aims and objective of the Act. The Act gives a registering officer the power to register the documents, subject to the requirements under sections 34 and 35 of the Act. The officers are required to satisfy themselves of the identity of the person appearing before them, enquire as to proper execution of the transfer documents, etc. Nevertheless, the Act gives little discretion to the sub-registrar on the question of title. Rule 42(1) of the Registration Rules, 1973 (“the Rules”) states that registering officers should not concern themselves with the validity of transfer documents and that they should not refuse to register such documents. Rule 42(1) of the Rules also states that a registering officer is bound to register the transfer documents without giving any regard to its possible effects, if it “is presented in a proper manner by a competent person at the proper office within the time allowed by law”.


The Act or the Rules does not impose any duty or make it mandatory for a registering officer to look into the details of or inquire further into the ownership of the property. Rule 42(1) of the Rules has not been judicially tested in Bangladesh. In Muhammad Meherali Mondal v Muhammad Karam Ali Sarkar,[1] it was observed that the registering officer was authorized “to examine anyone present in his office with a view to satisfying himself that the persons appearing before him are the persons they represent themselves to be”. However, Bangladeshi cases never elaborated to show whether the registering officers were given the power to look further into the question of title.


Comparable India cases reveal that for the purpose of registration, the functions of sub-registrar “are purely administrative and not quasi-judicial”.[2] The legislators have inserted section 23A in the Act for re-registration of certain documents which were registered by persons who had no authority to present such documents for registration. But the language of section 23A of the Act suggests that it was inserted to deal with the issue of authority of an agent and not to touch upon questions of title to the property.[3] Thus, for any question of title to the property, it appears that persons aggrieved by any registration must challenge it before the appropriate civil court.


Written by Junayed Chowdhury, Managing Partner  


† Disclaimer: The opinions and comments expressed in this Blawg are not to be regarded or construed as legal advice by and from Vertex Chambers or any of its members. It is highly advisable that any person should seek independent legal advice before relying on any of the contents of this Blawg.

[1] 1965 PLD 305.

[2] Park View Enterprises v State of Tamil Nadu, 189 ITR 192 Mad.

[3] Indeed, section 23A of the Act was the result of the Privy Council decision in Jambu Prasad v Muhammad Aftab 42 IA 22 where it was held that document presented for registration by unauthorized agent was invalid.