In a significant judgment liable to change the way ownership disputes are adjudicated, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has made it clear that there was no requirement for a sale deed to be attested by two “attesting witnesses”.
Justice Anil Kshetarpal also made it clear that there were, in fact, very few documents required to be attested by the “attesting witnesses”. Such documents primarily included a Will, a mortgage deed and a gift deed.
Justice Kshetarpal further ruled that placing on record the original sale deed on the court file, too, was not a requirement. It was sufficient to bring the original for the court’s perusal by a party. It could be examined and returned by the court, while keeping its copy on record.
“A wrong practice has been established by the courts to adjourn the case for cross-examination, which not only results in wastage of the precious court time, but also causes inconvenience to the parties and the witnesses,” Justice Kshetarpal added. The ruling came in a case where a suit was initially filed for granting decree of declaration to the effect that the plaintiff, along with some others, was owner in possession of a chunk of land on the basis of a sale deed registered in January 1980.
The matter was brought to Justice Kshetarpal’s notice after a regular second appeal was filed following the dismissal of his suit on the ground that the plaintiff failed to prove the sale deed in his favour. Justice Kshetarpal asserted the “courts below” erred in observing that the original sale deed was not produced in evidence. The plaintiff had stated that he had brought the original sale deed. The counsel representing the defendants had neither raised any objection, nor requested the court to retain the original sale deed on the record of the case.
Justice Kshetarpal asserted the term “sale” had not only defined. But the procedure for its execution had also been laid in Section 54 of the Transfer of Property Act. A tangible immovable property having value of Rs 100 and more could be transferred only by a registered document.