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Narpat Rai Sharma Vs. Inspector General of Registration, New Delhi and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCivil
CourtDelhi High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCivil Writ Appeal No. 237 of 1966
Judge
Reported in10(1974)DLT262
ActsRegistration Act, 1908 - Sections 69(1)
AppellantNarpat Rai Sharma
Respondentinspector General of Registration, New Delhi and ors.
Advocates: P.C. Khanna and; B.N. Kirpal, Advs
Cases ReferredMoti Ram v. Smt. Rittoo
Excerpt:
.....- petitioner challenging rules made under section 69 (1) which prescribes fees to be charged by document writers - analysis of rules - by virtue of rule 13 (2) restriction put on ra preventing him from registering document unless written by document writer or executant himself - restriction unreasonable - rule 13 (2) ultra virus - basis of other rules intention of parties - all other impugned rules constitutionally valid - petition partly allowed. - - as i have already indicated, the fees to be charged by document writers like the petitioner arc extremely low, and in fact, would hardly cover the typing charges for the documents concerning which the fees are to be charged. 2.00. if this fee covers the remuneration to be received by the petition writer both for drafting the..........have been practicing as a document writer fora period of seven years before the enforcement of the rule. rule ideals with the special examinations to be held by the inspector general for issuing fresh licenses. rule 7 deals with the applications fur special licenses. rule 8 with the scrutiny of applications, rule 9 with the syllabus for the special examination. .it is note worthy that the examination consists of three papers, the first of which carries 100 marks, and relates to document-writing. . the second again carrying 100 marks deals with legal procedure and refers to the indian registration act, the punjab registiation manual, the indian stamp act, the punjab stamp manual, and the transfer of property act. the third paper also carrying 100 marks relates to dictation and caligraphy......
Judgment:

D.K. Kapur, J.

(1) This is a petition under Articles 226 and 227 of the Constitution of India, which is concerned with certain rules made in exercise of the powers of the Inspector General of Registration Delhi, under Section 69(1)(b) of the Indian Registration Act,1908: The petitioner Shri Narpat Rai Sharma is a Writer of Documents and petitions. He claims to be carrying on the profession of petition and Documents Writsr. The rules inquestion were issued by a notification dated 1st December, 1966, published in the Delhi Gazette of that date. They regulate the writing of documents. They also limit the fees that can be charged by Document Writers. I shall presently refer to some of the rules to show that very low fees have been prescribed and the question that I have to. deal with turns on the effect of these rules. The rules are challenged by the petitioner as being framed without authority of law on the ground that Section 69(1)(bb) of the Indian Registration Act, 1908, amounts to excessive delegation of Legislative authority, and secondly, the rules are illegal and ultra virus of Articles 14 and 19 of the Constitution of India. These questions depend on the reasonableness 'of the rules and I have been concerned with finding out the proper legal meaning to be given to the rules in question. As I have already indicated, the fees to be charged by Document Writers like the petitioner arc extremely low, and in fact, would hardly cover the typing charges for the documents concerning which the fees are to be charged. It has thus become important to determine the exact scope of the rules before the question of validity can be gone into.

(2) The petition has been heard along with four other petitions of similar Petition or Document Writers, but the challenge is exactly the same in each one of those cases, and this judgment will, thereforee, dispose of Civil Writ Petitions Nos. 237 to 241 of 1966

(3) Before dealing with the questions raised with regard to the validity of the rules, I will proceed to analyze the same. The rules are made under Section 69(1)(bb) of the Indian Registration Act, 1908. This section does not exist in the Act as originally framed, but was introduced in 1961, by the Indian Registration (Punjab Amendment) Act, 1961, which received the assent of the President: of India on 24th April, 196L. This amending Act introduced sub-clause (bb) into the other provisions of Section 69. On 20th March, 1965, the Punjab Act was extended to the Union Territory of Delhi, by the Central Government with effect from 1st April, 1965, by exercise of the powers conferred by Section 2 of the Union Territories (Laws) Act, 1950. Thus, the amended provisions of the Indian Registration Act, as applicable to -Punjab have been extended also to Delhi. Acting under the amended provisions of Section 69, the Inspector General of Registration, New Delhi,issued the impugned rules, which were described as 'The Delhi Document Writers Licensing Rules, 1966'. These rules were framed after previous approval of the Administrator of the Union Territory.

(4) I first reproduce the relevant portion of Section 69 of the Indian Registration Act, 1908, as amended, I omit the unnecessary portion. The provision reads :-

'Powers of Inspector General to superintend registration offices and make rules. 69(1). The Inspector General shall exercise a general superintendence over all the registration offices in the territories under the State Government, and shall have power from time to time make rules consistent with this Act... (bb) declaring what persons shall be permitted to act as document writers in offices of registering officers, regulating the issue of licenses to such persons, the conduct of business by them, the scales of fees to be charged by them and determining the authority by which breaches of such rules shall be investigated and the penalties which may beimposed.'

This provision indicates that the Inspector General cafe make rules concerning the persons who can be Document Writers, he can regulate the issuing of licenses to them and the conduct of their business and also the scales of fees which may be charged by them. The rules as promulgated cover all these points.

(5) I now turn to the rules. A Document Writer has been defined by Rules 2(c) 'Document Writer' means a person holding a license for .practicing as a writer of documents for hire'. Rule 3 provides that no person shall practice as a Document Writer except under the license granted by a Licencing Authority. Rule'2(g) defines that 'Licencing Authority' as being the Registrar or any other officer specially authorised, by the Inspector General of Registration to discharge the functions of a Licencing Authority. Rule 3(2) is of some importance, because it reads as follows :-.

'No registering Officer shall accept any document for registration which is not written by a licensed document writer or the executant himself.'

This Rule shows that a document can only be accepted for registration if it is written by a licensed Document Writer or by the executant himself. One of the questions, which has been urged before me, is concerned with what is meant by the word 'written' occurring in this Rule. Does it mean, for instance, that a typed document will not be accepted by the Registering Officer-? Does it mean that the licensed Document Writer is to write out the document by hand, or, does it mean that the Document Writer can type out a document For instance, if a document is typed out by a person who is not a licensed Document Writer and is signed by the executant, can the Registering Officer refuse to accept the document-? On ananalysis of this Rule. I have come to the conclusion that this refers only to hand written documents. It cannot refer to typed documents atall. The purpose of the rule, to my mind, is to prevent hand written documents being registered except if they are written out by a licensed Document Writer or by the executant himself. The rule does not apply to typed documents, which cannot be described as written documents. The aim of this Rule does not appear to be that the typist employed by the executant must be alicensed Document Writer. In fact, the entire set of Rules turns round the interpretation of Rule 3 (2), because this is the part of the Rules which contains a bar on the Registering Officer.

(6) Rule 4 deals with the eligibility for getting a license.. This rule need not be reproduced here. Rule 5 requires certain academic qualifications, but does not apply to persons who have been practicing as a Document Writer fora period of seven years before the enforcement of the Rule. Rule ideals with the special examinations to be held by the Inspector General for issuing fresh licenses. Rule 7 deals with the applications fur special licenses. Rule 8 With the scrutiny of applications, Rule 9 with the syllabus for the special examination. .It is note worthy that the examination consists of three papers, the first of which carries 100 marks, and relates to Document-writing. . The second again carrying 100 marks deals with Legal Procedure and refers to the Indian Registration Act, the Punjab Registiation Manual, the Indian Stamp Act, the Punjab Stamp Manual, and the Transfer of Property Act. The third paper also carrying 100 marks relates to Dictation and Caligraphy. Rule 10 is concerned with the results of the examination and Rule 11 with the issue of licenses. Rule 12 provides that a license shall be valid for one year and will be renewable on payment of a fees of Rs. 10.00. ' Rule 13 provides for the fees to be paid for writing documents. It fixes a maximum fees which the Document Writer can charge for writing documents. It is the validity of the provisions of this Rule, which is particularly in question in this Writ Petition. Rule i4 specifies the conditions of. licenses. It states, among other things, that the Document Writer shall not dictate any document, or cause any document to be written by any other person. It also states that he shall not charge afees inexcess of those prescribed in the Rules. Rule 15 prescribes the penalty for the breach of the conditions of the license. ft provides that if any condition is broken, then the license will be suspended or cancelled.

(7) An analysis of these Rules would show that only Document Writers can write documents for an executant or the executant can write the documents himself. The Document Writer can only charge the fees prescribed by Rule 13 and nothing in excess. Rule 15(2) states that if a Document Writer charges more than the prescribed fees for writing a document, then the same can be got refunded from him by an application to the Inspector Genera! of Registration. .

(8) Before proceeding any further with the questions raised in the petition, I turn to the particular Rule which is under challenge in this case. That Rule is Rule 13, which prescribes the fees to becharged by Document Writers for writing documents. The Rule begins with the following words :-

'No document-writer shall charge fees for writing documents in excess of those mentioned below.'

Then follows a list of 13 doc iments. Those are, applications for inspection, applications for issue of process, applications for extension o time, and so on.- Item (v) is concerned with documents' relating to property or where the amount of consideration is specified. The fee varies in this case according to the value or consideration as the case may be, and the maximum fee is Rs. 20.00if the value or consideration is above Rs. 50,000.00,and th minimum fee is Rs.. 3/ if the valus or consideration is below Rs. 5,000.00. ltem(vi)isconcsrned with documents for modifying previously registered documents and the fee is Rs. 2.00. Item (vii) is a special power of attorney for which the fee is Rs. 2.00. Item (viii) is an agreement, where the fee is only Rs. 2/ . ltem(ix) is accounter part for which the fee is Rs. 1.00. ltem(x)isa consent deed without consideration; the fee being Rs. 1.00awillis covered by item (xi) and the fees is only Rs. 2.00. Item (xii) covers agreements concerning property where the consideration is not given, though capable of being expressed, and the fee is Rs. 2.00an.litem(xiii)isa document for which no scale of fee is prescribed, where again the maximum is Rs. .2/. The prescribed fee is genially not above Rs. 2.00, in any case where the value or consideration is not specified, but if it is specified the scale varies with a maximuai of Rs. 20.00. lt will be seen that the fees are extremely meagre by any Standard.

(9) Some examples of the kind of work that a Petition Writer may have to do, have been formulated during arguments. For example, there may be a Will concerning very valuable property which may be a lengthy document, which may require several days of consultation with the writer bifore finalisation. According to the scale, the Petition Writer is only to get Rs. 2.00. If this fee covers the remuneration to be received by the Petition Writer both for drafting the document as well as for writing it out, it will be less than what a typist would get for typing out the same. It is a matter of common knowledge that generally a Will, say, of three or four pages will cost Rs. 2.00 for typing, or may be more. According to this scale, the typist will get more than the Petition Writer. If the scale of fees is put into strict operation, it will mean that no Petition Writer will be able to function as such, because the remuneration he will draw for his work, will put him out of business. This is the argument advanced for the purpose of challenging the reasonableness of the scale of fees prescribed.

(10) Other examples have also been pointed out to me during the course of arguments, such as sale-deeds, concerning valueable property which may be worth several lacs, or lease-deeds or mortgages. According to this scale of fees,the maximum fee that can be claimed by a , Petition Writer is Rs. 20.00. If he charges more, he is liable to have his license cancelled and the extra fees returned. It is pointed out that typing charges of a sale-deed or mortgage or lease-deed may, in many cases, be for greater than Rs. 20/. This is because generally several copies have to be prepared. I quite agree that the fees payable to Petition Writers under this scale is less than that a typist may reasonably expect to get for typing out the document in question. This makes me think that there must be some other meaning to be given to the Rules, or otherwise, they are so unreasonable that they cannot be upheld as constitutionally valid.

(11) I have been referred to a judg-ment of this Court in Moti Ram v. Smt. Rittoo, where Hardy J held that Rule 3 (2} of these very Rules was ultrra virus and beyond the rule making power ex-pressed in Section 69(1)(bb) reproduced earlier. The facts were, that there was a Will executed by one Mst. Dilbaroo. which was written out by Devi Singh, a scribe, who was not a licensed Document Writer and hencs the registration of the Will was refused. The Sub-Registrar's decision under the Registration Act, refusing to register the Will was appealed against to the Registrar, who acting under the rulas refused registration on the ground that the Will had to be written out either by the executant or a Document Writer. Whenthe matter came before the High Court (in Himachal Pradesh) it was held that Rule 3 (2) was ultra virus and was beyond the rula making power of the Inspector General. Accordingly, the High Court directed the Registrar and the SubRegistrar to proceed to register the document in accordance with the provisions of the Registration Act.

(12) I fully agree with the reasoning contained in the judgment. I cannot see how this type of restriction can be placed, on the manner in which a document is to be written out. For instance, an executant of a document may pet it typed out by his own typist ; or he may get it drafted by his lawyer, or in the case of a Will, it might even be written out by some nearby relation, at a time when the testator was unable to write out the will himself. There may be many situations which may require the writing out of a document when a Petition Writer may not be available. To put a restriction on the Registering Authority preventing him from registering any document except if written oat by a Petition Writer or the executant himself, is to place a most unreasonable restriction on that officer, which amounts to practically amending or altering the Registration Act in a drastic manner. I, thereforee, fully agree that Rule 3 (2) is ultra vires. This decision makes the rule as framed concerning the fees to be charged by Petition Writers even more unreasonable because, no other writers of documents, by which I mean persons other than Document Writers, are restricted in any way in respect of the amount which they may charge for writing out such documents. This means that the petitioner, as a licensed Document Writer, is in a worse position than he would have been if he was not a licensed Document Writer. This cannot be justified in any way. I must, however, not proceed to hold the Rules to He ultra virus of the Constitution, if the Rules can be justified in any other way. If there is no other way in which the Rules can be justified, there will be no escape from the conclusion that the Rules are not reasonable and amount to unreasonable restrictions on the petitioner's fundamental rights to carry on his profession of Petition and Document Writer. I, thereforee, proceed to find if any other possible meaning can be given to the Rules justifying the imposition of the fees prescribed by Rule 13.

(13) In my view. the key to the interpretation of Rule 13 lies in the opening words, which I have reproduced above. The words are : 'No Document-writer shall charge fees for writing documents in excess of those mentioned below.' The particular emphasis, for purposes of interpretation has to be put on the words 'writing documents' The functions of a Petition Writer may vary from case to case For instance, he may be called, to write out a document of a formal nature ; or, he might be called as an expert to draft a difficult document. His function in these two cases will not be the same. Turning again to the list of documents mentioned in Rule !3, it will be seen that some of the documents are technical in nature, examples of this item are (i) an application for inspection or item (ii), an application for 'issue of process. Such documents are obviously routine in nature and, thereforee, do not require any particular application of mind. The fees for such documents are perfectly in order, and cannot be held to be unreasonable. On the other hand, if a document is to be written out at the dictation of the executant and, I again emphasie 'dictation of the executant then there is nothing wrong in the fees prescribed. The fees would in that case cover only the cost of getting the documents written out by a Document Writer. No application of mind by the Document Writer for the purpose of drafting such a document would be involved. Thus, a Will, an agreement, a sale-deed, a lease-deed or a mortgage might be dictated by the executant or executants, and if so dictated, the prescribed fees would be perfectly valid charges covering the cost of writing out the document. On the other hand, the executant might require the Petition Writer or . Document Writer to apply his own mind for the purpose of writing out these documents. For instance, there might be a partnership deed, which might require the introduction of certain clauses, concerning which the partners might not be able to agree among themselves. In such cases, the fees of Rs.2.00 as provided by item (viii) of Rule 13 would be wholly unreasonable, and thereforee, J think that the Petition Writer would be entitled to charge his own fees for drafting as opposed to writing out such a document. As to how much he should charge for doing the work of drafting a document, I do not think that that can be the subject-matter of a rule made by the Inspector General. This is a question which has to be decided by agreement between the party requesting the Document Writer to draft out the document and the Documentnt Writer. Thus, on general principles, 1. am of the view that a Document Writer can charge a fee for writing a document, and he can also charge a fee for drafting such a document. By writing a document, I understand the writing of a document without any application of the writer's own mind ; by drafting a document, I understand a document drafted in accordance with the expert knowledge of the person concerned. Thus. if an executant wants a Document Writer to write out a document which is dictated by himself, he will have to pay the fees prescribed by Rule 13. If he.wants tile Document Writer to draft out a document, then he will have to pay additional charges for drafting out the document. I do not think the words 'for writing documents' occurring in Rule 13 can restrict the amount of fees that can be charged by a Document Writer for drafting out documents which he has eventually to write out. Viewed in this way, the Rules are limited only to the fees to be charged for writing out the documents. The additional fees, or expenses for drafting, or other expenses cannot be included in these writing charges.

(14) Inview of the interpretation I have placed on the Rules, I think that they can be reasonably interpreted to permit Document Writers charging additional fees, where additional services are required, such as preparing drafts or consultations with the parties for preparing the substance of their agreement, etc. In other words, a Document Writer may, if he is not only acting as a writer, charge fees for additional services rendered by him.

(15) The prayer in the Writ Petition is for quashing the entire notification and also for declaring Section 69(l)(bb) of the Act as ultra vires. In view of the interpretation placed by me on the Rules. I do not think it is necessary to hold the Notification to be ultra vires. As I have already stated above. Rule 3(2) is ultra vires, as held by Hardy, J. in the aforementioned judgment. The other Rules are not ultra vires, if they are read in the manner set out above. Turning now to Section 69(l)(bb); although, this provision is challenged on the ground of the delegated Legislation, learned counsel for the petitioner has stated that if the interpretation placed by him on the aforementioned Rules is adopted, then it will not be necessary for the purpose of these proceedings to deal with the question of delegated Legislation. It is, however, necessary to make certain observations in connection with the Section which will not be out of place in this case. The rule making power of the Inspector General is concerned with superintendenee over the Registration Offices in the territories under the State Government. And, thereforee, the Rules framed under Section 69(l)(bb) cannot be read beyond the context of the rule making power. This means that the rules are not of general application, but of limited application. This has to be explained in some greater detail.

(16) A Document Writer may be engaged by a prospective executsnt of a document for the purpose of writing a document that is to he registered, but he may also be engaged for the purpose of a document which may not be registered. Now, suppose, an agreement is written out by a Document Writer which is not intended to be registered. Has the Document Writer then to charge fees in accordance with the Rules, or may he charge in excess thereof? The Rule as framed seems, to indicate that if a document is written out by a Document Writer, then he cannot charge fees in excess of those fixed by Rule 13. This cannot be so. The reason for this is that the Inspector General can only frame Rules with respect to the Registration Offices and he cannot frame Rules with respect to Document Writers generally. It is in this sense that it becomes important to deal with the question of delegation Legislation. The rule making power of the Inspector General is limited by the Act itself to Registration Offices and, thereforee, cannot extend to the private business of Document Writers. Hence, even if a Document Writer merely writes out a document and does not render any other services in respect thereof, he may charge fees in excess of those prescribed by Rule 13 if the document is not intended to be registered. The fees prescribed in Rule 13 are, thereforee, only applicable to those documents which are written out by Document Writers with the express purpose of registering the same. There is no bar at all in this Rule to a Document Writer charging a greater fee than that prescribed by the Rule, provided he does not write out the document for the porpose of registering the same. Thus, the position would be : If a Document Writer is asked to write out a document for the purpose of registering and he does not render services beyond those of writing out the document, he cannot charge fee in excess of those prescribed by Rule 13. If a Document Writer is asked to write out a document which is not intended to be registered, or at least, executants do not tell him that the document is intended to be registered, then the Document Writer is free to charge whatever fee he likes. Even if the executant later decides to get this document registered, the fees already charged by the Document Writer will not be excessive, even if they exceed those prescribed by Rule 13. Thus, if an executant wants to pay only the rates specified in Rule 13 and no more, he will have to tell the Document Writer in question that the document is intended to be registered and he only wants the services of the Document Writer for the purpose of writing out the document and nothing more. If the executant does not inform the Document Writer that the document is intended to be registered, then the Document Writer is not obliged to charge the fees prescribed by Rule 13, but may charge a greater fee if he so desires without infringing the Rules in question. In this way, there is double limitation on the application of the Rules framed by the Inspector General.

(17) To sum up The prescribed feei mentioned in Rule 13 are binding as maximum rates on the Document Writer only if he writes out the document and renders no more services and the document is intended to be registered and the Document Writer is informed that the document is going to be registered. If the Document Writer renders additional services beyond writing the document, then the rates will not apply to the Document Writer. If the Document Writer is not informed that the document is intended to be registered, then also the fees prescribed will not be binding' on the Document Writer. The total effect of the Rules and particularly Rule 13 is that it only applies to documents that are to be registered and only if the document is written out by the Document Writer and nothing more by way of additional services is to be provided by the Document writer.

(18) The result would be that this petition would partly succeed in the sense that Rule 3 (2) would be ultra virus as already held per judgment in Moti Ram's case, referred to above, and the remaining Rules would not be ultra virus of Article 19(1)(g) or Article 14 of the Constitution on account of the interpretation I have placed on them. The Rules would also not be had on account of Section 69(1)(bb) of the Registration Act being itself had as delegated Legislation. However, the petitioner would get substantial relief by reason of the fact that the Rules would operate only in the limited way set out above. I may mention that I have applied the settled rule that the Court should attempt to interpret the Statutes and Rules in such a way as to render them intra rires. In the circumstances there will be no order as to costs.


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