Registered Document Is Presumed To Be Authentic; Onus to Prove Otherwise Is On Person Who Challenges It: SC

Team SoOLEGAL 17 Nov 2020 3:19pm

Registered Document Is Presumed To Be Authentic; Onus to Prove Otherwise Is On Person Who Challenges It: SC

The Supreme Court has reiterated in the case Rattan Singh vs. Nirmal Gill [CIVIL APPEAL NOS. 3681­3682 OF 2020] that the burden to prove will lie upon the party challenging the stated registered documents authenticity. The matter was filed in 2001, where the respondent no.1 has falsely gained the signature of the plaintiff on the black paper in the year 1990 for pertaining the General Power of Attorney (GPA) of the real estate which was left behind by their father mutated under their names. Plaintiff had trust in the respondents as they share the relationship of stepbrothers and sisters.

After analyzing the evidence on record, the Trial court had dismissed the suit filed by the plaintiff, and the same held by First Appellate Court. However, the High Court then reversing the concurrent opinions decreed the suit and held that the Trial Court as well as the first Appellate Court committed a manifest error and misapplied the settled legal position.

In an  appeal made by respondents, it was contended that the evidence submitted by the plaintiff is self-contradictory as the claim made by her that her signatures were taken on a blank paper and then denying her signature on the GPA. As GPA was executed on stamp paper, the plea of blank paper was not substantiated. 

Supreme Court while answering whether the execution of GPA and sale deed was the outcome of fraud and forgery had made referred to the judgment in Prem Singh and Ors. v. Birbal 8 (2006) 5 SCC 353 that any registered document is presumed to be executed validly. Also,  to shift the burden of proof the arguments must be proved by tangible evidence rather than merely relying upon statements that relationships were fiduciary ones, the Court said while referring to Anil Rishi v. Gurbaksh Singh (2006) 5 SCC 558.

Considering the other issue of whether the suit filed by the plaintiff was in limitation or not, the Court discussed the effect of fraud over limitation under Section 17 of Limitation Act 1963. However, the Bench comprising of Justice AM Khanwikar and Justice Dinesh Maheshwari said that "Therefore, for invoking Section 17 of the 1963 Act, two ingredients have to be pleaded and duly proved. One is the existence of fraud and the other is the discovery of such fraud. In the present case, since the plaintiff failed to establish the existence of fraud, there is no occasion for its discovery. Thus, the plaintiff cannot be extended the benefit under the said provision."

The Court concluded that despite producing various shreds of evidence, the plaintiff was unable to prove that her signatures on the subjected documents were forged. The Bench reiterated that the standard of proof required in a civil dispute is the preponderance of probabilities and not beyond a reasonable doubt.


Tagged: SupremeCourt   GPA   Trialcourt   HighCourt   Justice AM Khanwikar   Justice Dinesh Maheshwari  
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