Registration of documents

In this article, Sanjana Tripathy explains the concept of registration of documents and the advantages arising out of it.


Registration is the process of recording a document with a recognized officer and to safeguard its original copies (See Here). Any document whether binding or non-binding shall be registered in a required manner. Registration of every document is not necessary but doing so affirms the authenticity and helps in avoiding legal process. Many people are not familiar with the concept of registration and hence, do not understand its importance in eyes of law. It is crucial to be familiarized with registration and what it includes to avoid disputes. There are two kinds of registration according to The Registration Act, 1908 namely “Mandatory Registration” and “Optional Registration” which have been explained below. Apart from them, a person going for registration should also know the following:-

  1. Who can register?
  2. Where to register?
  3. When to register?
  4. What fees to be paid?

If the person knows all of these then he will be able for apply for registration of a document without any difficulty.


Section 17 of the Indian Registration Act, 1908 provides for mandatory registration of certain documents. Those are as follows:-

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  1. Gift deed related to an immovable property;
  2. Non-testamentary instruments:                                                                                                  a. purporting to creation, assignment, declaration, extinguishing of any interest in any immovable property worth Rs. 100 and above;                                                        b. which acknowledge receipt or payment of any consideration for creation, assignment, declaration or limitation of any right, title or interest;
  3. Lease of immovable property for any term exceeding one year or reservation of yearly rent;
  4. Contracts for transfer of immovable property for a consideration for purpose of Section 53A of Transfer of Property Act, 1882 is executed on or after the inception of Registration and Other Related Laws (Amendment) Act, 2001.

Failing to do so will result in transfer being invalid.


But not all documents have to be registered. Section 18 provides for optional registration of some documents such as:- (See here)

  1. Adoption Deed
  2. Instrument relating to shares in joint stock company
  3. Debentures issued by joint stock company
  4. Will
  5. Lease of immovable property not exceeding 1 year
  6. Document of a past transaction
  7. Power of Attorney with respect to movable property
  8. Decree or order of court comprising an immovable property valued below Rs. 100
  9. Certificate of Sale granted
  10. Agreement of Mortgage
  11. Promissory note
  12. Instrument of partition by Revenue Officer
  13. Grant of immovable property by Government


According to Section 23 of The Registration Act, 1908, all documents except a will have to be presented for registration within 4 months from the date of execution. If a document is executed by several persons at different times then that document has to be presented for registration and re-registration within 4 months from the date of each execution (Section 24 of The Registration Act, 1908).

If due to any urgency or unavoidable accident, any executed document or a copy of decree or order is not presented within 4 months but it is presented after its expiry will be accepted for registration provided that 10 times the amount of registration fees is paid and delay in presentation does not exceed 4 months.

Application for such a step has to be made to Sub-Registrar who will forward such application to the Registrar to whom he is a subordinate (Section 25 of The Registration Act, 1908). If a document is executed outside India by any or all of the parties and is presented after expiry 4 months then it will be accepted for registration provided that it was executed and presented for registration within 4 months after its arrival to India (Section 26 of The Registration Act, 1908).


In case of documents regarding immovable property, it shall be presented for registration in the office of Sub-Registrar within whose district the property or part of it is located (Section 28 of The Registration Act, 1908). In case of all other documents, they shall be presented:-

  1. In the office of Sub-Registrar in whose sub-district the document was executed; or
  2. In the office of any other Sub-Registrar under State Government where all individuals desire the document to be registered.

The Officer authorized to register a document may on a special cause being shown also go to the individual’s private residence who desires to present a document for registration or deposit a will (Section 31 of The Registration Act, 1908).

Who can apply for registration?

According to Section 32 of The Registration Act, 1908, every document (except in cases of Sections 31, 88 and 89 of The Registration Act, 1908) shall be presented for registration or deposited in a proper registration office by:-

  1. some person executing or claiming under the same, or, in the case of a copy of a decree or order, claiming under the decree or order, or
  2. the representative or assignee of such a person, or
  3. the agent of such a person, representative or assign, duly authorized by power-of-attorney executed and authenticated in the manner hereinafter mentioned.

Every person presenting a document for registration shall affix his passport size photograph along with fingerprints to the document. In a case where a document is related to transfer of ownership of immovable property, passport size photographs and fingerprints of all the buyers and sellers mentioned in the document shall be affixed (Section 32A of The Registration Act, 1908).

In case of a will or authority to adopt, the testator or after his death any executor may or a donor or after his death the donee or adoptive son may present it to the Registrar or Sub-Registrar for registration respectively (Section 40 and Section 41 of The Registration Act, 1908). It shall be registered if it is satisfied that:-

  1. The will or authority to adopt was executed by the executor or donor;
  2. The testator or donor is dead;
  3. The person presenting the will or authority to adopt is entitled to present the same


The prescribed fees for registration of documents shall be paid on presentation of documents (Section 80 of The Registration Act, 1908).


In Narinder Singh Rao v. Air Vice Marshal Mahinder Singh Rao (2013) settled by Supreme Court, the Appellant’s father wrote on a piece of paper that his wife would inherit the property on his death. It was signed by a single witness and was not registered. After the father’s death, his widow executed a will, transferring the entire property to only one of her nine children. The aggrieved siblings challenged the mother’s will in court, stating that she had not inherited the entire property because the father’s will was invalid. The argument was accepted, stating that for a will to be valid, it must be attested by two witnesses. Besides, it could not be held as a valid transfer of property as it was not registered under the Indian Registration Act, 1908.

So, the Supreme Court held that the rule of succession would apply in dividing the property as the father’s will was invalid. This case recapitulated two rules which have been clearly set out in legislation. They are: (See Here)

  1. The proper attestation of wills and
  2. The registration of documents.

In Satya Pal Anand v. State of M.P. & Ors. (Civil Appeal No. 6673 of 2014), the Supreme Court held that once a document is registered then authority is not open to cancel its registration.

For this case, an application was moved by a man before the Sub-Registrar (Registration) to cancel the registration of extinguishment deed executed by the Society cancelling an allocation of the plot. Persecuted by the rejection of his application, on the ground that Sub Registrar has no domain to cancel the enrollment of a registered document being referred to, he moved toward Inspector General (Registration) which was in vain.

The High Court, on its writ petition, held that, since the Registering Officer selected the deed acquainted with him for registration, his ability is exhausted and he would then advance towards becoming functus officio (an officer or agency whose mandate has expired either because of the arrival of an expiry date or because an agency has accomplished the purpose for which it was created. When used in relation to a court, it may also mean whose duty or authority has come to an end) and no vitality to appropriate the report under Section 33 of the Act. This decision by the High Court was condemned in the Supreme Court.

The appeal in Part XII especially under Section 72 limits just to the refusal of Registering Officer to register a document. It was similarly held that power given to Registrar under Section 68 can’t be used to cross out registration of a registered document.

Moreover, the court observed that there is no express course of action in the Registration Act or Rules bound by the State of Madhya Pradesh nor any circular issued by the competent authority of the State of Madhya Pradesh with the goal that the extinguishment deed should bear the characteristics of both the vendor and the buyer and both must be accessible before the Registering Officer when the document is presented for registration. (See Here)


Registration of a document gives a more transparent deal. Even if a registered document is lost or damaged, the registration records prove the authenticity of the document. A document stating that a Power of Attorney has been revoked should also be registered so that there is no misuse after revocation. Easy access also helps in finding the owner who has the title and right to the property and whether there is any case against him or an existing liability before someone decides to buy it. Registration also prevents forgeries or fraud in transactions specifically in tax, stamp duty etc.

Even though some documents are registered on an optional basis, it is still advised to register them as this will prove the authenticity of the document and set aside any doubts arising because of it. (See Here)


Therefore, it can be seen that registration of a document is of utmost importance and must be done as soon as possible otherwise it would lead to long years of legal battle which is costly and time consuming.


  2. Sakina Babwani, ‘Advantages of Registering Documents’
  3. The Registration Act, 1908


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