Kerala High Court: The Bench of Alexander Thomas, J. hearing a civil writ petition, considered the legal validity of unilateral cancellation of deeds and held that a vendee cannot be divested of his title by unilateral cancellation of sale deed by the vendor.

Petitioner (widow of one James), since her husband’s death, was in ownership and enjoyment of property settled by James’ mother Kunjamma in his favour. Her request to settle the said property in favour of their daughter, was refused by the District Registrar on the ground that the settlement deed executed by Kunjamma in favour of James had been unilaterally cancelled by her by executing and registering a cancellation deed. Aggrieved, the petitioner filed the instant petition for praying for a direction to the District Registrar to execute and register settlement deed executed by her in favour of her daughter.

The Court took note of its decisions in Pavakkal Noble John v. State of Kerala, 2010 SCC OnLine Ker 2561 and P.A. Hamsa v. District Registrar General, Kozhikode, 2011 SCC OnLine Ker 1882 where it was held that a registration officer is legally obliged to reject and refuse to register cancellation of sale deed which has been unilaterally executed without the knowledge and consent of parties to the sale deed.

It was noted that Kunjamma’s cancellation deed had been executed after James’ death and hence there was no question of any bilateral execution or registration of cancellation deed with his consent. Therefore, the said cancellation deed was null and void and not binding on James’ legal heirs, i.e., the petitioner and her daughter.

Accordingly, settlement deed executed by petitioner in favour of her daughter was directed to be registered. The Court also directed Inspector General of Registration to issue necessary norms and guidelines in this regard, by way of circular, to the registration officers.[Lali Yohannan v. State of Kerala, 2018 SCC OnLine Ker 8056, Order dated 29-11-2018]

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