Fake property documents

Fake property documents are fabricated or altered papers that misrepresent the ownership and status of a property. Impersonation, forgery, alteration, and fraudulent representations are some of the tactics employed by those doing it.

Fraudulent registration

These fake documents may be used to sell properties that do not belong to the seller. In other words, fraudulent registration is one where the property is registered by someone who has no legal right whatsoever to the property.

By the same count, the property disputes within the family where the will or legal heir is fudged to get the property by someone in the family in his name does not come under the category of fraudulent registration in the ambit of this amendment. A civil court may deal with that claim on the title of the property.

Similarly, when a neighbour, by mistake or by design, registers a few more cents of the neighbour’s property, it may not come under the definition of fraudulent registration.

Combating fraudulent registration

When a property is fraudulently registered by fraudsters, the remedy so far available is for the person concerned to approach the courts to get the property registration cancelled. Though criminal actions may be initiated by the affected persons or by the Registration Department itself, the power to cancel the once registered document rests only with the courts.

The court cases may be prolonged for many years and even for generations. Needless to say, this will cause unbearable hardships for the affected parties.

Amendments to the Registration Act,1908

The Registration Act, 1908 is the law that governs the registration of all immovable properties in India.

The Madras High Court has advised the government to bring in suitable legislation to empower the authorities to cancel the documents once the inquiries find that the documents are fake/forged.

It was in this background that, in September 2021, the Tamil Nadu Assembly passed a bill to amend the Registration Act, 1908, to give the District Registrar of the Registration Department the power to cancel fake documents.

New Section 22-B

With this amendment, a new section 22B has been inserted, which describes what the documents that will come within the ambit of this amendment can be refused by the District Registration Officer.

Section 22A was already in force, which gives the powers to the registering officer to refuse powers to register certain other documents.

The lists of documents that are covered by the existing section 22A and the new section 22B are given below.

List of Fraudulent Documents

Section 22A

  • Land belonging to Governments, Local Bodies, CMDA and DTCP
  • Land Belonging to HR&CE and Mutt
  • Bhoodan Lands
  • Wakf Board Lands
  • Unapproved House Sites (Except those registered as house sites before 20-10-2016)
  • Cancelled Deeds without the consent of the claimants

Section 22B

Forged Documents

  • Documents registered through impersonation
  • Properties Claimed through forged documents like patta, tax receipt, death certificate, legal heirship certificate, etc.
  • Property claimed through previously forged registered documents

Documents relating to transactions which is prohibited by Central Act or State Act

Document relating to transfer of immovable property by way of sale, gift, lease, or otherwise, which is attached permanently or provisionally by a competent authority under any Central Act or State Act for the time being in force or any court or Tribunal.

Any other document as the State Government may, by notification, specify

Section 77A

Though the above two sections give the registering officer the power to refuse registration, if he/she is convinced that the documents are fake/forged, the power to cancel the registered documents was not there in the Registration Act. The 41st Act of 2021 inserted the new section 77A to obviate this. The President gave his assent to the Act in August 2021.

This section 77A reads as follows:

“77-A. Cancellation of registered documents in certain cases.— (1) The Registrar, either suo motu or on a complaint received from any person, is of the opinion that the registration of a document is made in contravention of section 22-A or section 22-B, shall issue a notice to the executant and all the parties to the document and parties to subsequent documents, if any, and all other persons who, in the opinion of the Registrar, may be affected by the cancellation of the document, to show cause as to why the registration of the document shall not be cancelled. On consideration of reply, if any received therefor, the Registrar may cancel the registration of the document and cause to enter such cancellation in the relevant books and indexes.

(2) The power under sub-section (1) may also be exercised by the Inspector General of Registration.”

Cancellation Process Under Section 77A

The heart of the amendment lies in Section 77A, granting the District Registration Officer (DRO) the authority to cancel registered documents suspected to be fake or forged. This section mandates that the DRO must issue notices to all parties involved, including the executant and all subsequent document parties, to show cause as to why the document should not be canceled. After due consideration, the DRO may cancel the document and record the cancellation.

Guidelines for Cancellation

The Madras High Court has outlined a clear procedure for the DRO. It emphasizes that the cancellation process should not be delayed, and that affected parties should not be directed to approach the court for such cases. The Court underscores the need for timely action and a dedicated register for complaints.

Based on the Court directive, the Inspector General of Registration has issued circulars detailing the procedure to be followed.

Appeal Mechanisms, Punishments, and More..

Section 77B introduces an appeal mechanism. Those aggrieved by the Registrar’s order under Section 77A can appeal to the Inspector General of Registration or the State Government, depending on the situation. Additionally, the amendment prescribes punishments, including imprisonment or fines, for officials involved in fraudulent actions.

Appeals may be made to the State Government within 30 days of the date of the order.

This inquiry at the District Registrar’s office is only regarding the fake or forged documents. No inquiry should be conducted regarding the Title Deeds of a property. That is the job of the courts.

The affected party has to approach the District Registrar to cancel the fake/forged documents within a period of 3 years from the date of registration or from the date when the issue came to his knowledge.

In case the the property was registered in another district with forged documents, the complaint under section 77A shall be filed in the district where the property is situated.

Effect of the Amendments: More Than 10,000 Complaints, 1,000+ Fraudulent Registrations Cancelled

It appears that more than 10,000 complaints have been received so far on this issue. And more than 1,000 fraudulent registrations have been cancelled so far.

In a recent case that was widely reported, a 1.3 Acre land in Arcot Road, Kodambakkam Chennai, worth ₹100 Crores was registered in Radhapuram sub-registrar office through forged documents. The complaint was filed by an NGO Arapor Iyakkam in South Chennai District Registrar Office and the registration was cancelled.


The amendment to the Registration Act is a welcome step towards curbing fraudulent registration of property documents. It provides a much-needed mechanism for affected parties to get their property back if it has been registered fraudulently. The DROs and the Inspector General of Registration must be proactive in implementing the amendment and ensuring that fraudulent registrations are cancelled without delay.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended to be legal or financial advice. Readers are advised to do their own independent research and consult with professionals before making any decisions based on the information in this article-Edit


One response to “Fraudulent Registrations: New Section 77A of the Registration Act Allows District Registrars to Cancel Fake Property Documents”

  1. R Selvakumaran avatar
    R Selvakumaran

    When the revised circular from IG Registration with retrospective effect from previous date to be published as per the directive from the Madras High Court?

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