Forgery in relation to property is one of the methods of committing an illegal sale. Instances of forgery being committed by an individual or a builder or promoter are very common, indicating the widespread nature of this crime across India. A number of factors can lead to property forgery, including taking out a loan, buying or selling real estate, and possessing real estate illegally. If due diligence is not done, such circumstances may occur and persist if they are not reported at the outset.

How/Where To File A Complaint-

*A complaint under RERA can be filed against promoters, buyers, or agents under Section 31 of the Act. Below mentioned steps can be followed to complete the process of filing a complaint:

*A RERA lawyer may be found with whose help a complaint can be filed under the appropriate jurisdiction before the Real Estate Regulatory Authority or the adjudicating officer, as the case may be.

*The complaint must be filed as per the rules prescribed by the concerned state in which the project is situated.

The complaint must include all the relevant information such as-

*Details of the applicant and the respondent

*Address and registration number of the project

*A brief statement of the facts as well as the grounds of the claim

*The relief(s) and/or interim relief(s) sought (if any)

*The relevant fee must be paid as per the requirement of particular state rules.

*The complaint can approach the Appellate Tribunal within 60 days, in case of dissatisfaction with the decision made by RERA.

*The complaint can further approach the High Court within 60 days, in case of dissatisfaction with the decision of the Appellate Tribunal.

Your Claims-

*In case of forged signatures and photographs or forged power of attorney, a declaratory suit must be filed by the owner or his heirs stating that he is the absolute owner of the said property and that the fraudulent sales agreement should not be considered. It must further be declared that any fraudulent sales-related agreement if shown, must not be considered under any circumstances.

*All the points like forgery, fabrication of the documents, and the case of cheating (as the case may be) must be clearly stated in the complaint.

*If a fraudster tries to establish his rights over a property, it becomes important to lodge a complaint on grounds of impersonation.

*In certain cases, the owner may also publish a warning in the newspaper declaring that the original owner of the property has learned about the fraud or crime and is not aware of any transactions that may have occurred.

Legal Provisions-

1. The Real Estate (Regulation And Development) Act, 2016-One of the primary goals of RERA is to safeguard consumers’ interests in the real estate industry, as well as to create a system for expeditious dispute resolution and an appeals process. The Act advances this goal by requiring the promoter to register the real estate project with the Real Estate Regulatory Authority, describing the application process and the necessary documents that must be attached. It also mandates the registration of real estate agents and the functions that they and the promoter must carry out.

2. The Indian Penal Code, 1860-

Under the IPC, a property forger, depending on a particular case, is liable for his crime under Sections 420 (cheating), 467 (forgery of documents), 468 (forgery for purpose of cheating), 471 (using a forged document as a genuine one).

3. The Indian Contract Act, of 1872

There may be a case where a builder after taking part of the payment for a property, says there was a typographical error in the rates and the actual rates were much higher. For cases like these, a buyer can take a resort under the Indian Contract Act, of 1872 for making the agreement void. The relevant provisions, depending on the particular case, could be Sections 17 (fraud), 18 (misrepresentation), 19 (voidability of agreements without free consent), 19A (Power to set aside contract induced by undue influence), 20 (Agreement void where both parties are under mistake as to a matter of fact).

What Precautions To Be Taken-

The following precautions can be taken to prevent property forgery:

*Before entering into a property deal, the agent must be asked to provide his registration number, which is usually valid for a limited period.

*It is important for an owner to maintain the physical property of his property and keep it safe. The original legal documents must also be kept safe.

*Taking a home loan to buy a property could be a preferable option since it could act as a safety check on whether the property is a legally cleared property and has all the necessary documents.

*There are many tricks to make one’s signature forgery-proof which can be resorted to, such as writing in connected strokes, making an artistic signature, avoiding abbreviations, etc.

*The power of attorney must be verified by the owner whose name is mentioned in the property papers. A registered PoA is always considered safer than a simple notarized PoA.

*If the owner/seller claims that the original documents have been lost, an affidavit must be obtained by him stating the same and that the documents being traced will be handed over to the purchaser.

How To Know If Property Papers Are Forged-

*The forgers usually falsify the property’s documentation for claiming ownership of the property. In such cases, it may get difficult to differentiate original documents from forged ones. To do so, the following steps can be followed:

*Before buying any property, it should always be checked whether the original sale deed has been registered, and also get it examined by a lawyer. Further, one must not rely on photocopies.

*To check whether the property papers are forged, one must apply for the encumbrance certificate from the sub-registrar’s office, which displays the property’s true owner’s name.

*A property whose documents are already forged may be sold to another party and it may be a disputed property. Thus, one must also conduct an online litigation search at the e-courts website,

*One must also obtain photocopies of the seller’s PAN card and voter ID and get them verified.

*Properties can also be sold based on fake legal heirship certificates. Thus, one must check the succession as well as the death certificate and cross-verify it either online or with the records of the issuing authority.

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