The Madras High Court Bench here has dismissed a criminal original petition filed by a top official of the Registration Department, two Assistants working in the office of the Joint Registrar at Palanganatham here, an advocate and another individual to quash a First Information Report (FIR) registered against them for allegedly manipulating an encumbrance certificate.

Refusing to entertain the petition filed jointly by the accused, Justice M.M. Sundresh said that there was no necessity to interfere with the FIR when the court had already directed the Central Crime Branch (CCB) police here to file a charge sheet within three months. Nevertheless, the petitioners were given liberty to challenge the charge sheet, if it happened to be against them.

The order was passed after hearing the complainant, M. Santhalakshmi of Bethaniapuram here, who filed an intervening petition and objected to the plea to quash the FIR. According to her, a property spread over 1.48 acres at Kovil Pappakudi near here was originally owned by two individuals. They had appointed her husband as a registered power agent in 2006 after obtaining the sale consideration.

Subsequently, the properties were transferred to her name and she executed a sale deed in favour of the advocate who promised to get it registered after paying the sale consideration within three months. The money was not paid within the stipulated time. Instead, the lawyer entered into a sale agreement with another individual and executed a sale deed in favour of the latter.

Apprehending that the advocate was trying to create some problems, the petitioner's husband applied for encumbrance certificates on two occasions. The certificates showed that there was no encumbrance in respect of the property. Yet, the lawyer continued to claim ownership over the property and hence another application was made seeking a fresh encumbrance certificate.

To the shock of the couple, the third encumbrance certificate stated that the property had been sold by the lawyer to another individual. Hence, Ms. Santhanalakshmi sent a representation to the Registration Department in Chennai to initiate departmental action against the erring officials. She also lodged a criminal complaint with the CCB and hence the present petition.

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