1. An interesting point arises in this appeal and that is whether the adhesive stamps on a document can be cancelled under Section 12 of the Indian Stamp Act only by drawing one line on them. This point arises in the following circumstances :
2. The plaintiff, who is the appellant here, has filed a suit against the respondents-orig. defendants on the basis of a promissory note dated 18-6-55 showing four revenue stamps. Two are fixed above and two below. On the upper two there is a signature of defendant No.1 and on the lower two there is a big line with the same link, in which the signature was written. Except for this line there is no writing at all on the two stamp fixed below. The Civil Judge (J. D.), Nandurbar in whose Court the appellant-plaintiff has filed this suit held that the suit was not maintainable because the promissory note on the basis of which the suit was filed was inadmissible in evidence. It is on this preliminary point that he dismissed the plaintiff's suit. That order, therefore, was challenged before the learned District Judge, Ghulia. The leaned District Judge also agreed with the view of the trial Court and held that drawing of a line across the stamps was not a proper way of cancellation. The appeal therefore was dismissed by him. This order of the learned District Judge Dhulia is, therefore, challenged here.
3. I have seen the promissory note dated 18th June, 1995. There are four revenue stamps on this promissory note. The two are fixed above and the other two are fixed below these two. The signature of defendant No. 1 is on the upper two stamps. There is only one line on the two stamps fixed below. The point, therefore, that arises here is whether the two lower adhesive stamps, which are affixed on the promissory note can be said to have been cancelled under Section 12 of the Indian Stamp Act, 1899, Section 12 of the Indian Stamp Act, 1899 is as follows :
'12. Cancellation of adhesive stamps - (1) (a) whoever affixes any adhesive stamp to any instrument chargeable with duty which has been executed by any person shall, when affixing such stamp cancel the same so that it cannot be used again : and
(b) whoever executes any instrument on any paper bearing an adhesive stamp shall, at the time of execution, unless such stamp has been already cancelled in manner aforesaid cancel the same so that it cannot be used again;
(2) Any instrument bearing adhesive stamps which has not been cancelled so that it cannot be used again shall, so far as such stamp is concerned, be deemed to be unstamped.
(3) The person required by sub-section (1) to cancel an adhesive stamp may cancel it by writing on or across the stamp his name or initials of his firm with the true date of his so writing, or in any other effectual manner.'
4. This section, therefore, provides that the stamp, which is affixed to any instrument, has to be cancelled so that it cannot be used again. It is further provided that if the instrument bearing adhesive stamps shows that all or any of the adhesive stamps, which are necessary for such instrument, are not cancelled, so that it cannot be used again, then the instrument is deemed to be unstamped. The cancellation of the adhesive stamps can be by writing on the stamps, name or signature of the executant with true date or in any other effectual manner. We have, therefore, to see whether the two adhesive stamps on the suit promissory note can be said to have been cancelled in an effectual manner and whether they were cancelled in such a way that they cannot be used again. Mr. Naik, who appears for the appellant, relies on In re Tata Iron and Steel Co., 30 Bom LR 197: AIR 1928 Bom 80. That was a case before Crump, J., who was dealing with some proxies, which were alleged not to have been stamped in accordance with the requirement of the Indian Stamp Act. Crump, J. was of the view that the question 'Have stamps been cancelled, so that they cannot be used again', is a question of fact and that in no sense can it be said to be a question of law. The question was posed by Crump, J. himself because other cases of this High Court which were against his view were cited before him and he was asked to follow them. An unreported decision in Anandrao v. Daulatrao (1888) Bom PJ 361 and other case were cited. That case was under Section 11 of the old Indian Stamp Act, 1879 and there were cross lines in that case for the purpose of cancelling the stamp affixed on the document. It was held in that case that it was not a cancellation and that therefore the document was inadmissible under Section 11 of the old Act. Yet another case Virbjadrappa v. Bhimaji ILR (1904) 28 om 432 was also cited before Crump, J., where it was held :
'Two parallel lines drawn over a stamp are not sufficient to carry out that object (of the legislature), because mere lines would not be effective for the purpose in view.'
And Crump, J. remarked on the above observation :-
'That is the ground of the decision and (with all respect) I cannot conceive that I am bound by it.'
5. There is one case of our High Court on this point, which can be looked into and that is S.A. Ralli v. Caramalli Fazal, ILR (1890) 14 Bom 102. In that case there was a small ink line upon the right side of the stamp and it was held there that line will not fulfill the tests laid down in the provisions of the Stamp Act. Mr. Naik for the appellant relying on the view of Crump, J. contends here that the question whether a stamp can be used or cannot be used again is a question of fact and not of law and according to him the line drawn on the two stamps in the instant promissory note is such that they cannot be used again. According to him there is no dictum laid down either in ILR (1890) 14 Bom 102 or in ILR (1904) 28 Bom 432 and therefore this Court need not follow those decisions. I am inclined to agree with Mr. Naik, when he says that there was no proposition of law laid down in those cases. After all the question whether a particular stamp was cancelled in such a way that it cannot be used again, is in my view only a question of fact. It certainly cannot be said that it is a question of law. The Rajasthan High Court in Dalpat Singh v. Jivanmal Jasraj, as well as the Allahabad High Court in Mahadeo Kori v. Sheoraj Ram Teli : AIR1919All196 have taken this view. I have, circumstances of the case the question whether a particular stamp is cancelled so that it cannot be used again is only a question of fact,
6. Now, therefore, the point before me is whether a single line drawn across the two adhesive stamps in the suit promissory not can be said to have cancelled those two adhesive stamps in an effectual manner. Can it be said that such an adhesive stamp cannot be used again? I think that the stamp, which bears only a single line can be used again. If the stamp can be used again, the line across it cannot be said to have cancelled it in an effectual manner. Somebody could sign on the top of the line and use the adhesive stamp, but Mr. Naik says that in a given case the ink of the signature of the person who uses those stamps again may be different. There is nothing wrong in having two inks in a signature. Moreover the same ink also can be used. The point before me is whether the two stamps are effectually cancelled and whether they could be used again. I am inclined to hold that the stamp with a single line such as the one, with which we are concerned, can certainly be used again. If those stamps can be used again, the line cannot be said to have effectually cancelled these two stamps.
7. This appeal, therefore, will have to be dismissed. The appeal is dismissed with costs.
8. Appeal dismissed.