Very, very shocking; may order CBI probe: Delhi High Court on revenue records going missing from sub-registrar office

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The Delhi High Court on Tuesday expressed shock at the fact that a large volume of documents and land records have gone missing from the office of the sub-registrar in the capital and that the authorities only reported the issue fifteen years later.

Justice Prathiba M Singh said that the matter cannot be treated in a cavalier manner because it proves that the documents were not kept in safe custody.

The judge further said that she may order a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the matter since a large number of officials are responsible for the documents going missing.

“I am making it very, very clear that I may order a CBI inquiry into the case, because this is very, very shocking. Not possible that a truckload of documents from the sub-registrar’s office can go missing like this. And 15 years later they register an FIR,” the Court said.

The Court, therefore, ordered the Inspector General (IG) Registrations to physically remain present on the next date of hearing.

It also directed the Principal Secretary, Revenue to join the proceedings virtually on February 8, when the matter will be taken up next.

“I want a complete list of all the sub-registrars who were functioning there during this period as well. The status of the police investigation and FIR registered be also placed on record,” Justice Singh ordered.

The cCurt was hearing a plea by a firm named Monk Estates Private Limited stating that it registered six sale deeds in the year 1994 in respect of some agricultural land. Mutations were carried out in favour of the petitioner in February 1995, after which it obtained original sale deeds.

However, the petitioner lost the documents in 2013 and sought certified copies from the officer of the sub-registrar. The company deposited the required charges as well. In December 2013, the registrar told the company that they did not have the documents.

The petitioner then approached the Department of Delhi Archives, which also said that it does not have the copies.

In September 2021, the petitioner filed a Right to Information (RTI) application which revealed that the documents were not available and that a first information report (FIR) has been registered by the police in May 2019. Only two pages of the FIR were given to the petitioner.

After examining the petition and the FIR, Justice Singh noted that the facts show that the officials had knowledge of these documents having gone missing, but chose to report it to the police fourteen years later.

“Considering that these documents could be misused for sale and purchase transactions, also raised serious concerns about the credibility and integrity of preservation of land records related to citizens itself. Despite having knowledge of all the facts, none of the authorities appear to be taking any action in this regard,” the Court observed.

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