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Bombay High Court: Sanctioned layout not mandatory for registering sale deeds of fragmented land

25 May 2022

Residual Power
The Bombay High Court has struck down a circular mandating that a sanctioned layout is compulsory to register sale documents for land parcels below the standard area prescribed in the Maharashtra Prevention of Fragmentation and Consolidation of Holdings Act, 1947.
Partner: Mridul Kumbalath, Counsel: Sadaf Shaikh, Senior Associate: Dilnaz Bapasola, Associate: Sharul Jain, Senior Associate-KM: Varnika Jain

Introduction

The Maharashtra Prevention of Fragmentation and Consolidation of Holdings Act, 1947 (Act) was enacted to prevent fragmentation of agricultural holdings into smaller land parcels and provide for their consolidation for the purpose of better cultivation. Section 8B of the Act was introduced by the Maharashtra Prevention of Fragmentation and Consolidation of Holdings (Amendment) Act, 2015 (2015 Amendment Act). The proviso to Section 8B prescribes that no person shall transfer any parcel of land in specified areas (as set out in the Section, including areas within the limits of a municipal corporation) which has an area less than the standard area notified before the date of coming into force of the 2015 Amendment Act, unless such land parcel is created as a result of sub-division or the layout is approved by the planning authority or by the Collector under the provisions of the Maharashtra Regional and Town Planning Act, 1966 or any other law for the time being in force.

Further, Rule 44(1)(i) of the Maharashtra Registration Rules, 1961 (Rules) prescribes certain requirements to be verified before accepting a document for registration.

Subsequently, the Inspector General of Registration and Stamps, State of Maharashtra, Pune, issued a circular on 12 July 2021 (Circular) directing the Sub-Registrar not to register any sale/transfer deed related to land parcels falling within the scope of Section 8B of the Act unless the sanctioned layout is also enclosed with the documents.

In this backdrop, the case of Govind Ramling Solpure & Ors. v The State of Maharashtra & Ors. came up before the Bombay High Court since the Petitioners’ request to register sale deeds in respect of certain land parcels was refused by the concerned Sub-Registrar on the ground that the sale deeds were in violation of the Circular. Aggrieved by this decision, the Petitioners approached the Bombay High Court praying that Rule 44(1)(i) be declared contrary to Sections 34, 35 and 69 of the Registration Act, 1908 (Registration Act) and hence be struck down and the Circular issued exercising the power under the said Rule be quashed and set aside.

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