1-4. A report made by the Chief Inspector of Stamps in this First Appeal has been referred to a larger Bench by a Division Bench, which was or the opinion that the decision of this Court in Ramohand v. Moti Thad, 1982 All LJ 485: (AIR 1962 All requires reconsideration.
5. The report is about the stamp duty payable on a document executed by Rani Dhandevi Kunwar (now represented by the Collector, Jaunpur, the respondent) on one side and Jageshar Naik appellant on the other side. It is styled as an agreement and is stamped as such i.e., stamp duty of Re. 1-00 has been paid on it. The gist of the agreement is as follows:
Rani Dhandevi Kunwar is the sole owner of certain trees and in possession of them and has accepted the offer of Jageshar Naik to buy them for Rs. 1,00,000. Jagesh Naik undertakes to pay the price by a certain date and if he does not pay it, the Rani will have the power to stop the cutting of the trees and Jageshar Naik's entry into the land. Jageshar Naik has the right to start the cutting from the date of the execution of the agreement. In the event of default by him in paying the price, the Rani will have the power to take the timber of the trees already cut down and the remaining trees into her possession. She will give all facilities to Jageshar Naik in the aot of cutting the trees. The cutting of the trees must be completed, and the land vacated, by Jageshar Naik within 8 years.
The document is signed by the two parties and attested by five witnesses.
6. The document was relied upon by both the parties to suit No. 91 of 1951, from which this appeal arises. The plaintiff-respondent, filed the original document and the defendant-appellant Jageshar Naik filed a duplicate of it. The genuineness of both the documents was admitted and both were admitted in evidence and exhibited. The endorsement of the original was:
'Ext. 1Ad. against deft.A. C. J.16/10'
The endorsement on the duplicate was
'Ext. A-lAd. against plff.A. C. J.16/10'
7. No objection on the ground of the deed and its duplicate being insufficiently stamped was raised by either party during the trial of the suit and the Additional Civil Judge, who tried the suit, did not expressly enquire into the sufficiency of the stamp duly paid on them and did not record a specific order that it was sufficient. The deeds did not come to the notice of the Chief Inspector of Stamps and consequently he also did not bring to the notice of the learned Additional Civil Judge that they were insufficiently stamped and that neither could be received in evidence without the deficit being made good and a penalty being paid. The learned Additional Civil Judge decreed the suit against Jageshar Naik and he has filed this appeal. During the pendency of the appeal the Chief Inspector of Stamps happened to examine the deeds and has submitted this report to the Court for orders. The report is, in substance.
The original deed is a bond, as defined under Section 2(5)(b) of the Stamp Act, and chargeable under Article 15 of Schedule 1-A, with the stamp duty of Rs. 890-10-0 as against the duty of Re. 1-0-0 paid. Under Article 25(b) of Schedule 1-A, the duplicate of the deed is chargeable with the stamp duty of Rs. 1/14 as against the duty of Re. 1 paid. There is a deficit of Rs. 889/10 in respect of the original deed and of As. 14 in respect of the copy. The penalty payable in respect of the original is Rs. 8,896/4 and that in respect of the copy, Rs. 8/12. Thus, the total amount to be paid by the plaintiff--respondent is Rs. 9,785/10 and by the defendant appellant, Rs. 9/10.
8. A notice of the report was given to the parties to the appeal and they and the Chief Inspector of Stamps are represented before us. The report is contested by both the appellant and the respondent.
9. The first question is whether the deed is an agreement or a bond. The appellant does not dispute the correctness of the Chief Inspector's report that the deed is a bond, the respondent disputes it, but has not urged any argument in support of his contention that it is an agreement. Nothing turns upon the label given to a deed by its executants, its chargeability to stamp duty depends upon its contents and not upon how the parties describe it. The deed contains certain promises and, therefore, may be said to be an agreement but if it is also a bond, it is to be stamped as a bond and not as an agreement because under Section 6 of the Stamp Act, the higher of the duties to which a document is liable is to be paid. Under Section 2(5) of the Stamp Act, the word 'Bond' includes an instrument, attested by a witness and not payable to order or bearer, whereby a person obliges himself to pay money to another. Under the instrument Jageshar Naik obliges to pay money to the Rani and it is attested by witnesses and is not payable to order or bearer. So it is a Bond. A similar instrument was held by a Full Bench of this Court in the Board of Revenue U. P. v. Padum Bahadur Singh : AIR1957All391 to be a bond and not an agreement. Not only are we bound by the decision of the full bench but also I have no reason to doubt its correctness. The report of the Chief Inspector that so much deficit and so much penalty is due from each of the two parties is correct.
10. What is seriously contested by the parties, and particularly the respondent, is that this Court has no jurisdiction to recover the deficit and the penalty from the parties. It cannot be disputed that the jurisdiction of this Court in this regard is governed exclusively by the provisions of Section 61(1) of the Stamp Act. Under it this Court may, of its own motion, or on an application of the Collector, take into consideration an order if made by the learned Additional Civil Judge, admitting the deed and its duplicate in evidence as dully stamped. It was contended on behalf of the parties that there is no application by the Collector and that there is no order made by the learned Additional Civil Judge admitting the deed and its duplicate in evidence as duly stamped and that consequently this Court has no Jurisdiction to proceed under Section 61(1).
11. The first contention is devoid of any substance and is not supported by any authority. The Chief Inspector or Stamps exercises the powers of a Collector within the meaning of the provisions. His report is an application within the meaning of the provision because it ends with the prayer, 'the Hon'ble Court is therefore, respectfully requested to record under Section 61, a declaration to the same effect and order the realisation of the stamp duty on the two document as follows'. The prayer makes the report an application and as I said earlier whether it is an application or not depends upon the nature or its contents and not upon me description given to it by the Chief Inspector. In Shyam Lal Bidhi Chand Firm v. Mukund Lal, 1942 All LJ 87: (AIR 1942 All 147) (FB) this Court held that a letter of request is as good as an application.
12. I come to the main controversy, which is whether Section 61(1) requires an express order declaring a document to be duly stamped and admitting it in evidence or covers an implied finding that it is duly stamped whether it applies only when a Court enquires into the question of the sufficiency of the stamp duty paid on a document and records an order that it is duly stamped or also when it without going into the question of the stamp duty payable on it, admits it in evidence and exhibits it as required by Order 13, Rule 4 of the Code of Civil Procedure. Whether a document is relevant and admissible in evidence or not is a question governed by the Evidence Act and how it should be produced in Court and how it should be dealt with by the Court are questions of procedure governed by the Code of Civil Procedure. The Evidence Act does not deal with the procedure relating to documents offered in evidence. The Stamp Act deals with the stamp duty payable on documents and the procedure to be followed by a Court when an unstamped document is produced before it. Order 13 of the Code of Civil Procedure lays down the procedure regarding production and impounding of documents. Under Rule 1 the Court is required to receive the documents produced at the first hearing of the suit. Under Rule 3 it has the power to reject any document which it considers irrelevant or otherwise inadmissible at any stage of the suit. Under Rule 4 every document which has been admitted in evidence is to be endorsed with certain particulars including 'a statement of its having been .... admitted and the endorsement is to be signed by the Judge. Any document held by the Court to be inadmissible in evidence is to be endorsed with the statement of its having been rejected. Every document which has been admitted in evidence forms part of the record of the suit and every document not admitted does not form part of the record and must be returned to the party producing it, vide Rule 7. These are all the relevant Rules in Order 13.
13. Section 33 of the Stamp Act imposes upon every person having authority to receive evidence, the duty of examining every instrument produced before him to ascertain whetherit is stamped as required by the law and to impound it if it is not so stamped. Section 35 of the Stamp Act is to the effect that
'no instrument chargeable with duty shall be admitted in evidence for any purpose by any person having by law or consent or parties authority to receive evidence, or shall be acted upon, registered or authenticated by any such person or by any public officer, unless such instrument is duly stamped'.
Section 36 lays down that
'where an instrument has been admitted in evidence, such admission shall not, except as provided in Section 61, be called in question at any stage of the same suit or proceeding on the ground that the instrument has not been duly stamped'.
14. Though the words used in Section 61(1) are 'makes any order admitting any instrument in evidence', there is no provision either in the Code of Civil Procedure or in the Stamp Act which expressly requires the making of such an order. The provisions in the Stamp Act permit the admission of an instrument in evidence but do not expressly require an order admitting an instrument in evidence. Section 36 is dependent upon Section 35; it refers to the act of admission in evidence, not to an order admitting an instrument in evidence. Section 35 itself deals with the act of admitting or not admitting an instrument in evidence and does not expressly require an order admitting or not admitting it. The only provision which may be interpreted to require the making of such an order is Order 13, Rule 4 of the Code of Civil Procedure; a statement that the instrument has been admitted in evidence marked on the instrument may be said to be an order admitting it in evidence When an instrument is admitted in evidence, it is required to be exhibited, i.e., to be endorsed with the particulars mentioned in Rules 4 and 6. I am, therefore, of the opinion that the reference in Section 61(1) to the making of an order admitting an instrument in evidence is to the endorsing on it of the statement of its having been admitted in evidence as required by Rule 4. Such an endorsement exists on the original and the duplicate. There is, therefore, an order by the learned Additional Civil judge admitting the two documents in evidence within the meaning of Section 61(1).
15. But it has been vehemently contended before us that the order contemplated by Section 61(1) is not merely an order admitting the instrument in evidence but an order admitting an instrument in evidence as 'duly stamped', i.e., the order must use the words 'as duly stamped' or other words to this effect 1 fail to see any justification for this contention. There is nothing in Section 61(1) to suggest that the order must recite the fact that me instrument is duly stamped or even that the Court before making the order admitting it in evidence must decide, even if in its mind only, that it is duly stamped. Even if it be said that 'makes any order' means making an express order it does not follow that the order must further recite that the instrument is duly stamped. There is no reason for saying that an express order admitting an instrument in evidence cannot contain an implied finding that it is duly stamped. A Court is forbidden by Section 35 from admitting in evidence an instrument which ought to be stamped but is not stamped as required by the law. There is a presumption in favour of the regularity of proceedings by a Court. So when a Court admits an instrument liable to be stamped in evidence and even makes an express order 'admitted in evidence', it must be presumed to have found it to be duly stamped. If it had not found it to be duly stamped it could not, and would not, have admitted it in evidence. When a Court received an instrument offered in evidence it has to decide first whether it requires to be stamped, secondly, if it does whether it is duly stamped and thirdly whether it should be admitted in evidence or not. The final order is admitting or not admitting it in evidence and is to be passed after deciding whether it requires to be stamped and is stamped as required. Its order admitting it in evidence necessarily involves the decision that it is not required to be stamped or that it is stamped as required; there is nothing in Sections 35 and 36 or 61 to suggest to the contrary.
16. The distinctions sought to be made between expressly recording a finding that an instrument offered in evidence is duly stamped and making an order admitting it in evidence as duly stamped on one hand and making an order admitting instrument in evidence without giving any thought to the question whether it is duly stamped or not on the other hand for the purposes of Section 61(1) does not make any sense. The legislature had no cogent ground for making such a distinction. The question is of an appellate Court's jurisdiction to reconsider the trial Court's order admitting an instrument in evidence; it is not understood why it should have the jurisdiction when the trial Court records a finding that the instrument is sufficiently stamped or at least has given a thought to the question whether ft is sufficiently stamped and should not have it when it has negligently refrained from giving a thought to the question. 1 use the word 'negligently' because of its failure to discharge the duty laid upon it by S 35 of considering whether it requires to be stamped or not and if it does, it is stamped as required or not. The legislature bad no reason to grant jurisdiction to an appellate Court to revise a trial Court's erroneous order regarding an instrument being duly stamped when it has given a thought to the question and come to a wrong decision and not when it has failed to perform its duty of giving a thought to the question. The right to recover the deficit and a penalty arises from the fact that the instrument admitted in evidence was not duly stamped and not from the fact that the trial Court erroneously held that it was duly stamped. When the right to recover the deficit and a penalty does not depend upon the trial Court's having made a mistake consciously or unconsciously, it cannot be said that the legislature meant by the words 'order admitting it in evidence as duly stamped' that the order must recite the fact that the instrument is duly stamped. The wrong that is intended to be set right by the legislature is that of acting contrary to the provisionsof Sections 35 and 36 and not a mere conscious error in holding an instrument to be duly stamped whereas it is not.
17. There is no question of applying the well-known maxim that a taxing or penal statute must be construed strictly. The question under Section 61(1) is not whether the instrument is liable to he stamped or not but whether an appellate Court has jurisdiction to Jo the first act towards the recovery of the deficit and a penalty or not. The question of recovery of a deficit or a penalty is distinct from that of chargeability to stamp duty. It is the law by which the stamp duty is charged upon an instrument that is to be construed strictly. On the other hand, once it is found that an instrument is chargeable with stamp duty and that it is not duly stamped there is no necessity or justification for giving a strict construction to the recovery provisions. There is no justification for saying that a provision regarding recovery of a deficit in the stamp duty and a penalty should be so strictly construed that a person from whom they are due is allowed to escape their payment. On the contrary, once it is found that a deficit and a penalty are due from a person, the provisions regarding their recovery should be liberally construed so that the public revenue does not suffer. It is neither the legislature's policy nor the public policy to let a person escape payment of a deficit and a penalty.
18. When a document is produced by a party in evidence in a trial Court the Court has at once to decide whether it requires to be stamped and if it does, whether it is duly stamped. Though it is the deciding authority there are not at least two parties to the question before it. Even if the parties to the suit are before it, it may not be said that the other party to the suit is the other party to the question. There are several reasons for the other party's not raising the question of the stamp duty payable on the instrument. It may not be interested in the question because the instrument is not material and does not prejudice its case. Or it also relies upon it for part of its own submission. Or the energy and the time spent over the question are not considered worthwhile. Or it does not for certain purposes want a decision in favour of the public revenue on the question. The Chief Inspector of Stamps is not always present before the trial Court and the instrument may not come to his notice while the trial Court remains seized with the proceedings. These facts account for the trial Court's failure to apply its mind to the question whether the instrument is duly stamped or not. The legislature could not have intended that the appellate Court should have no jurisdiction to revise the trial Court's order admitting the instrument in evidence, even though it was not duly stamped and should not have been admitted in evidence.
19. I am not impressed by the argument that the words 'take such order into consideration' suggest that there is a speaking order admitting an instrument in evidence as duly stamped, i.e., that the trial Court has applied its mind consciously to the question of the stamp duty payable on the instrument. It was argued that if there was no finding recorded by the trial Court that the instrument was duly stamped (or that it did not require to be stamped) there is nothing that an appellate Court can take into consideration. It is true that what an appellate Court has to take into consideration is a finding of the trial Court that the instrument is duly stamped, but this does not require an express finding to that effect. The provision does not become meaningless or impossible of application if there is no express finding about the instrument being duly stamped. An implied finding that it is duly stamped is as much capable of being considered by an appellate Court as an express finding. No reasons may be given in respect of an express finding also, and, therefore, the want of reasons in an implied finding is not a handicap. There are two parties before the appellate Court when it takes the order into consideration and one or both may supply the reasons for the finding that it is duly stamped. After all, the order that is contemplated by the proviso is one admitting the instrument in evidence; that it is duly stamped is in no sense an order and is only a finding to be arrived at previously to the order admitting the instrument in evidence.
20. Another argument advanced in support of the theory of exclusion of an implied finding is that Section 61(1) specifies three particular orders which can be considered by an appellate Court, they being (1) an order admitting an instrument in evidence as duly stamped, (2) an order admitting an instrument in evidence as not requiring stamp and (3) an order admitting an instrument in evidence upon payment of the duty and penalty. The argument was that the specification of the orders capable of being considered is inconsistent with an implied order being considered. This argument loses sight of the fact that the order is that of admission of the instrument in evidence, that the instrument is duly stamped or that it does not require to be stamped or that the duty and a penalty have been paid are only preliminary finding on which the order is based and do riot form a part of it. It is the admission of the instrument in evidence that can be considered by the appellate Court; every admission of an instrument in evidence is preceded by a finding, express or implied, 'It is duly stamped' or 'It does not require to be stamped' or 'The duty and penalty have been paid'. The legislature could have refrained from adding the words 'as duly stamped. .....under Section 35' and seems to have added them only by way of abundant caution to make it clear that every order admitting an instrument in evidence is revisable by an appellate Court regardless of its circumstances. An order admitting an instrument as duly stamped is as much revisable as an order admitting an instrument as not requiring to be stamped or an order admitting an instrument upon payment of certain duty and penalty. A trial Court admitting an instrument in evidence has to consider whether the instrument is relevant and admissible in evidence and in the case of an instrument requiring to be stamped, whether it issufficiently stamped, or the duty and a penalty have been paid. An order admitting an instrument in evidence, therefore, involves a finding that it is relevant and admissible in evidence and that it is duly stamped or does not require to be stamped or the duty and penalty have been paid. The Stamp Act is not concerned with the question of relevancy or admissibility of an instrument in evidence; whether an appellate Court has jurisdiction to revise the trial Court's finding that it is relevant or admissible in evidence is dealt with in other Acts and Section 61(1) was enacted only to give it jurisdiction to revise the finding that it is duly stamped or does not require to he stamped or becomes admissible on payment of a certain sum as the duty and penalty. The legislature might have added the words to make this clear.
21. Under Section 61 the power to revise an order of a trial Court admitting an instrument in evidence is conferred upon the Court to which appeals lie from, or reference are made by the trial Court. This means that the superior Court has jurisdiction to revise the order without there being an appeal or reference pending before it from the trial Court's final judgment or order in the proceeding in which it had passed an order admitting the instrument in evidence. The power conferred by Section 61 is not confined to the Court which is hearing an appeal or a reference from the trial Court's final judgment or order in the case. The superior Court can just take cognizance of the trial Court's order admitting an instrument in evidence without there being before it any appeal or reference from the final judgment or order in the case. The jurisdiction is analogous to that conferred upon a superior Court by Section 520 of the Code of Civil Procedure, as explained in Ram Abhilakh v. State : AIR1961All544 . This is consistent with the provision that the superior Court may revise the trial Court's order either of its own motion or on the Collector's application; there is no necessity for the pendency of an appeal or reference before it. Of course if an appeal (or a reference) is pending before it the Fact does not divest it of the jurisdiction. As an appellate Court it would have jurisdiction to consider and revise any interlocutory finding or decision of the trial Court on which depends the final judgment or order under appeal; but since Section 36 has taken away its power to consider and revise the trial Court's order admitting an instrument in evidence on the ground that it was not duly stamped Section 61 had to be enacted to give it the power to consider and revise the order, though for the limited purpose of acting as directed in Section 61, i.e., of determining the duty payable on the instrument, impounding the instrument, informing the Collector of the determination and sending the instrument to him. If Section 61 did not exist the deficit could not be realised and if Section 36 did not exist the appellate Court would have the power of excluding an instrument from evidence on the ground of its being not duly stamped in spite of the trial Court's order holding it to be duly stamped or not to be required to be stamped and admitting it in evidence. In view of these objects and reasons behind the relevant provisions it cannot be said that Section 61 is not applicable in the absence of an order of the trial Court declaring an instrument to be duly stamped or to be not requiring a stamp or to be admissible on payment of a certain amount of money by way of deficit and penalty. The bar imposed by Section 36 is not confined to a case in which the trial Court has given an express finding about an instrument being duly stamped or not requiring a stamp. If an instrument is admitted in evidence the bar applies even though the trial Court might not nave given any thought to the question of the stamp duty payable on it. The exception contained in Section 61 applies where the bar of Section 36 applies because the bar is expressly made subject to the exception. Therefore, the power conferred by Section 61 applies even when the trial Court has not given an express finding that the instalment was duly stamped or did not require a stamp.
22. The fact that an appellate Court is empowered to consider an order of the trial Court at the instance of the Collector has an important bearing on the question whether an order of the trial Court admitting an instrument as duly stamped includes an order admitting an instrument on the implied finding that it is duly stamped or without going into the question whether it is duly stamped or not. The Collector not being a party is not present in the Court when it admits the instrument and, therefore, cannot ask the Court to decide whether the instrument is duly stamped or not. The benefit of the power conferred upon him through Section 61 would be lost in a substantial number of cases if it could be exercised only when the Court decides, even if mentally, that the instrument is duly stamped or does not require to be stamped, before admitting it in evidence.
23. I am supported by Collector of Peshawar v. Mohammad Ashraf Khan, AIR 1936 Pesh 186, Kameshwari Singh v. Sarju Singh : AIR1958Pat434 , etc. In the former case Middleton, J. C. treated a Court's endorsing a document with 'admitted in evidence' and permitting a party to be examined, with reference to it as an order admitting it in evidence as duly stamped liable to be revised by an appellate Court under Section 61. In the other case Ramaswani, C. J. and Chaudhary, J. observed at p. 437.
'The object of both these sections (Sections 33 and 61) 'is to protect the revenue and under both . . . . . the Courts have been given power to examine the question. . . . .The jurisdiction of the Court. . . .does not depend upon the raising of an objection by the parties. If the document has been admitted in evidence..... without any objection being raised to its admissibility on the ground of its being unstamped or insufficiently stamped and if the Court by inadvertence has not applied its mind to the question of admissibility, I do not see how the protection afforded to the revenue by Section 61 is lost to the State simply on the ground that the Court of first instance did not apply its mind to it'.
24. Sri Misra referred us to Jever Chand v. Pukhraj Surana, AIR 1961 SC 1658. Thefacts in that case were materially different. Two hundis, which were unstamped, were received in evidence by the trial Court after recovering the penalty from the plaintiff who had produced them. There was no issue struck by the trial Court about their admissibility in evidence. They were exhibited and the parties were examined with reference to them. The trial Court held that they had been admitted in evidence and it was prohibited by Section 36 from calling the admission in question subsequently and excluding mem from evidence. The trial Court had made the mistake of recovering the penalty and admitting them in evidence because Section 35(a) prohibited this. Therefore, when the matter was taken up before the High Court the High Court held that the admission of the hundis was a mistake and excluded them from evidence. The Supreme Court set aside the order of the High Court. It observed that Section 36 barred the High Court's calling in question the admission of the hundis by the trial Court and that Section 61 which created an exception to the bar was 'not material to the present controversy'. It did not explain how Section 61 was not material; it did not deal at all with its provision Section It then observed:--
'The Court has to judicially determine the matter as soon as the document is tendered in evidence and before it is marked as an exhibit in the case. ......the hundis were marked asExs. P1 and P2 and bore the endorsement 'admitted in evidence' under the signature of the Court. It is not, therefore, one of those cases where a document has been inadvertently admitted, without the Court applying its mind to the question of its admissibility. Once a document has been marked as an exhibit ....and the trial has proceeded all along on the footing that the document was an exhibit in the case and has been used by the parties in examination and cross-examination . . .Section 36 of the Stamp Act comes into operation.'
It will be noticed that the Supreme Court did not deal with the question whether a Court's order admitting an instrument in evidence without applying its mind to the question whether it is duly stamped or not is an order referred to in Section 61 (because in the case before it the trial Court had applied its mind to the question). It seems that the Supreme Court held Section 61 to be not material to the controversy before it because it deals with realisation of the deficit and penalty or prosecution and not with exclusion of the instrument from evidence and interference with the final judgment or order of the trial Court on the ground that it was based on it. When an instrument not duly stamped is admitted in evidence and acted upon by a Court two wrongs result from it; one is the acting upon an unstamped instrument in direct contravention of the provision of Section 35 and the other is a loss to the public revenue. Under Section 33 every instrument not duly stamped must be impounded by any Court or person in charge of a public office before whom it is produced or comes in the performance of its or his functions. When it is impounded it cannot be treated as evidence and cannot be acted upon and one wrong is avoided and after impoundingit must be sent to the Collector who will thereupon proceed to realise the deficit and penalty or prosecute the defaulter and thus the second wrong is avoided. Section 36 deals with admission of an instrument in evidence against the provisions of Sections 33 and 35. The admission of an instrument not duly stamped in evidence can be questioned on the ground that an inadmissible instrument has been admitted in evidence as well as on the ground that there is a loss to the public revenue by the failure to realise the deficit and penalty. Section 61 is enacted to prevent the second wrong, e.g., to prevent a loss to the public revenue. If an appellate Court finds that the trial Court's admission was erroneous because there was a certain deficiency in the stamp duty payable on the instrument it has to determine the deficiency and is empowered to require production of the instrument before it and to impound it. When it determines the deficiency it informs the Collector of the deficiency and sends the instrument to him thereupon the Collector orders prosecution or the defaulter unless the deficit determined by the Court is paid. Thus the entire object behind the provisions of Section 61 is to safeguard the public revenue; it is not enacted to prevent the other wrong of basing a final judgment or order on an instrument not duly stamped. The determination by the appellate Court does not affect the validity of the trial Court's order admitting the instrument in evidence; this is made clear by proviso (b) to Sub-section (4) of Section 61. Thus the effect of reading the provisions of Sections 33, 35 and 61 together is that once an instrument not duly stamped is admitted in evidence by a trial Court, an appellate Court cannot interfere with the final judgment or order of the trial Court on the ground that it was based on the instrument admitted in evidence in contravention of the provisions of Sections 33 and 35 but is left free to proceed under Section 61 so that the loss to the public revenue is avoided. That is why Section 61 is made an exception to Section 36; an appellate Court can set aside the trial Court's finding that the instrument did not require to be stamped or was duly stamped or was admissible in evidence on payment of a certain sum of money by way of the deficit and penalty. When the appellate Court acts under Section 61 the instrument will remain evidence, i.e., the final judgment or order of the trial Court if correct will be maintained but the deficit in the stamp duty payable on the instrument and a penalty will be realised. This explains why an appellate Court is empowered to act under Section 61 of its own motion as well as on the Collector's application. A party adversely affected by the final judgment or order is not interested in the public revenue and has not been given the power to apply to the appellate Court to take into consideration the order of the trial Court admitting the instrument in evidence and remains subject to the prohibition contained in Section 36. The Stamp Act is enacted in the interest of the public revenue and not in the interest of a litigant and, therefore, a litigant is not aggrieved by an erroneous decision or the trial Court that the instrument was duly stamped or did not require to be stamped or was admissible inevidence on the payment of a certain sum of money by way or the deficit and penalty and is not given the right of an appeal from it. Nothing new was said by the Supreme Court in Annamalai v. Veerappa : AIR1956SC12 ; it simply paraphrased Section 36.
25. In Mt. Bittan Bibi v. Kuntu Lal : AIR1952All996 , a Bench of this Court held that if a trial Court erroneously admits in evidence an unstamped promissory note and passes a decree on its basis the appellate Court: is debarred by Section 36 from setting it aside on the ground that the promissory note could not have been acted upon. The sole controversy in that case was whether the bar imposed by Section 36 is on calling in question a trial Court's admitting an instrument in evidence or also on its acting upon it. The decision is, therefore, of no help in the instant case.
26. Iqbal Ahmad and Bajpai, JJ. in Lodhi v. Zia-ul Haq : AIR1939All588 , interpreted the words 'has been admitted in evidence' occurring in Section 36 so as to include admission of an instrument in evidence without consideration of the question of the stamp duty payable on it. They expressly left out of account Section 61 because it had no bearing on the question to be considered by them. They referred to the provisions of Order XIII of the Code of Civil Procedure and observed that an endorsement made on an instrument in compliance with Rule 4 amounts to admitting it in evidence and held that it is immaterial whether the Court applied its mind to the question of the stamp duty payable on it. They stated at p. 590:---
'When a Court admits a document in evidence it does or at least is deemed to act judicially and this judicial act of admitting the document in evidence can at no subsequent stage of the suit be set at nought on the ground that the document was not duly stamped.'
This decision is in conformity with the view that I have taken; just as Section 36 includes admission of an instrument in evidence, even though its changeability to stamp duty has not been considered by the Court, so also Section 61 applies even though the trial Court has not considered the chargeability of the instrument to stamp duty.
27. The contrary view has been taken by Abdul Rashid, C. J. and Mahajan, J. in Emperor v. Gian Chand, AIR 1946 Lah 265, the facts in the case were that the trial Court admitted an unstamped instrument in evidence without considering whether it was duly stamped or not, the Collector made an application to the appellate Court to consider the admission under Section 61 and the learned Judge held that Section 61 did not apply because there was no express order by the trial Court to the effect that the instrument was duly stamped. Abdul Rashid, C. J. speaking for the Bench adhered to the view expressed by him earlier in Mirza Faridun Beg v. Emperor, AIR 1935 Lah 909, to the effect that there must actually exist an order of the trial Court regarding the sufficiency or insufficiency of the stamp duty before there arises any question of its being considered under Section 61 by a superior Court and that: an implied order cannot be taken into consideration. He stressed the use of thewords 'makes any order' and 'takes such order into consideration' in Section 61, referred to the definition of 'order' in Section 2(14) of the Code of Civil Procedure and said that there must be a formal expression of opinion by the Court and only that formal expression of opinion can be regarded as 'making an order'. He further distinguished between the language used in Section 36 and language used in Section 61 and brought in the principle that a fiscal enactment must be strictly construed,
In the case of Rumchand : AIR1962All353 . N.U. Beg and S.D. Singh, JJ., followed this decision and adopted its reasons. With great respect I am unable to agree with those two decisions. Though there is a difference between the language used in Section 36 and the language used in Section 61, I am by no means sure that the legislature intended to distinguish between admitting an instrument in evidence and making an order admitting an instrument in evidence; as I said earlier there is no logic behind any such distinction.
Then even if an express order is required, an express order admitting an instrument in evidence is enough even though it does not recite the fact that the instrument is duly stamped (or does not require to be stamped or is admissible on payment of a certain sum of money by way of deficit and penalty). 'Order' used in the Code of Civil Procedure is what is known as formal order and the definition of 'order' contained in Section 2(14) of the Code of Civil Procedure does not apply to the word 'order' used in the Stamp Act. Section 2 of the Code makes it clear that the definitions contained in it are merely for the purposes of the Code. There is a provision in the Code, the Evidence Act and the Stamp Act for an order, as defined in Section 2(14) of the Code, admitting an instrument in evidence and in practice such an order is not passed. An endorsement on an instrument is an order within the meaning of Section 61 as pointed out by Iqbal Ahmad and Bajpai, JJ. in Lodhi : AIR1939All588 . The view taken by N.U. Beg and S.D. Singh, JJ. in this regard is in conflict with the view taken in the case of Lodhi : AIR1939All588 . As regards the rule of strict interpretation, I have already given reasons for not applying the rule of strict interpretation of a taxing statute to the interpretation of the words, 'makes any order admitting an instrument in evidence as duly stamped'. A trial Court's order can be taken into consideration by a superior Court even though it does not contain reasons; see Milkhiram (India) Private Ltd. v. Chamanlal Bros. : AIR1965SC1698 . I think the law laid down in Ramchand : AIR1962All353 , is not correct.
B. Dayal, J.
28.I have carefully read the judgment prepared by my Lord the Chief Justice but I am unable to agree that Section 61 of the Stamp Act applies to a case where there is no speaking order 'admitting any instrument in evidence as duly stamped or as not requiring a stamp or upon payment of duty and penalty under Section 35'. These words under Section 35 have significance particularly in contrast with the language used in Section 36 thereof where it is merely stated that 'where an instrument has been admitted in evidence such admission shall not ......be called in question'. The contrast in the language is obviously intended to indicate that under Section 36 the mere fact of admission in evidence is sufficient to bring the section into operation. But under Section 61 an express order must exist and that order ought to be of one of the kinds mentioned, namely, (i) admitting an instrument in evidence as duly stamped or (ii) as not requiring a stamp or (iii) upon payment of duty and penalty under Section 35. This interpretation of the section is in consonance with main purpose of enacting this section. According to my reading of the Stamp Act, Section 61 is not intended to provide a machinery for this realisation of the stamp duty and penalty which by an inadvertence or mistake was not realised under Section 35 of the Act but the purpose is to correct wrong decisions expressly taken by the Courts below for their future guidance and for enabling the department to obtaining an authoritative decision of the High Court on the point decided by the Courts below.
29. In this connection the provisions of Sections 33 and 35 of the Stamp Act may also be considered under which the duty to examine an instrument and to see whether proper stamp duty has been paid or not, is placed upon the original Court which has to receive the document in evidence and not upon the appellate Court to re-examine every instrument which comes before it in connection with the hearing of the appeal. Under Section 61, the appellateCourt is only to see if an order passed by the trial Court is wrong and not to see that proper stamp duty has been paid on each instrument that has come before the appellate Court, such orders, which have to be reconsidered, must necessarily be express orders deciding point. When the trial Court admits an instrument into evidence it has to pass an order admitting the same under the C. P. C. But Section 35 places restriction and before that order of admission can be passed the trial Court has to examine the stamp duty paid upon the instrument and if there is a controversy on this point, to decide that question. The trial Court has thus to passtwo orders one under the Stamp Act deciding the question of deficiency and the other under the Code of Civil Procedure admitting the instrument, after the question of deficiency has been settled. Section 36 deals with Orders passed under the Code of Civil Procedure and directs that such orders having once been passed, will not be challenged on the ground or deficiency. Section 61 deals with orders passed in respect of deficiency in stamp and directs that if such orders are wrong in the opinion of the appellate Court, they may be corrected. Therefore, in Section 61 the emphasis is not upon 'make an order admitting any instrument in evidence' but upon the words 'as duly stamped or as not requiring a stamp or upon payment of duty and penalty under Section 35'. If there is no order of the kind mentioned, there is nothing for the appellate Court to revise. Where the trial Court does not apply its mind and does not consider the question of stamp duty upon an instrument, there can be no order of the kind mentioned above and to say that simply because the document has been admitted, it must be assumed that the Court has passed an order of one or the other kind mentioned above is to assume something which does not exist, and then to revise one's own assumed order and not that of the trial Court.
30. Cases under Section 36 of the Stamp Act are wholly irrelevant The only purpose of Section 36 is to prevent exclusion of a document after it has once been admitted and it is irrelevant for that purpose whether an order regarding deficiency in stamp has been made or not. But for Section 61, if the admitting Court passes no order in the matter on the question of deficiency in stamp duty, in my opinion, there is nothing for the appellate Court to reconsider and a reference under Section 61 of the Act does not lie in such a case.
31. In this connection, it may also be observed that Sub-section (1) of Section 61 authorises the appellate Court or the Court of reference 'to take such orders into consideration.' Here the order which has to be taken into consideration is obviously not an order admitting the document because Section 36 has provided that admission of a document shall not be called in question at any later stage except as provided in Section 61. Now Section 61 is obviously not intended to question the admission of the document, for otherwise the whole provision of Section 36 would become nugatory. Moreover Proviso (b) to Section 61(4) itself reiterates that the 'validity of any order admitting any instrument in evidence' shall not 'be affected' by any proclamation made under Section 61 Therefore, the purpose of making the exception in Section 36 in favour of Section 61 is only to permit the appellate Court to signify that the order passed by the admitting Court was not correct. The emphasis, therefore, in Section 61 is upon the three classes into which the document is placed by the order of the Court below and not upon the order admitting it. The order which has to be taken into consideration under Section 61 is the order holding that the document is either (i) duly stamped or (ii) not requiring a stamp or (iii) admitting it upon payment of duty and penalty.
32. It is also significant to note that after a document has been 'considered' under Sub-section (1) of Section 61, all that the Court can do under Section 61(2) is to make a declaration of its opinion in regard to two matters, i.e., (i) that such an instrument should not have been admitted in evidence without payment of duty and penalty under Section 35, or (ii) without payment of a higher duty and penalty than that already paid. It is not to declare its opinion in a case in which a document, although improperly stamped, has been admitted but in respect of which deficit duty and penalty is not payable under Section 35, for instance a promissory note. If such a document is deficiently stamped, it cannot be admitted in evidence and the question of payment of deficiency and penalty does not arise. In such a case, Sub-section (2) does not require the Court to make any declaration. But that does not mean that the Court under Section 61(1) cannot consider the order in such a case and is unable to decide that the speaking order passed by the admitting Court giving reasons for its admission was a wrong order and thereby make the law clear that in future such mistakes may not occur. According to my interpretation, by the words 'take such order into consideration' in Sub-section (1) of Section 61, the legislature has given power to the appellate Court to reconsider wrong orders passed by the Court below, which necessarily implies that the Court can give a decision regarding correct interpretation of the law in respect or that document though no deficiency can be realised. Sub-section (2) thereof further gives the appellate Court power to make a declaration in cases where duty and penalty has not been taken or has been taken less than what ought to have been taken, and upon making that declaration., the Court is to send a copy of such declaration along with the instrument after impounding it to the Collector under Sub-section (3) thereof. The purpose of sending the declaration and the instrument to the Collector is for his information and to enable the Collector under Sub-section (4) to prosecute the offender if the Collector finds that an offence under the Stamp law has been committed. This power to prosecute is not meant for realisation of the deficiency as prosecution can go on even after such payment. What is important to note is that upon receipt of this document the Collector has been given no authority to even demand the deficiency so declared by the appellate Court. The provisions of Section 10 of the Stamp Act are also significant. Under Sub-section (1) of Section 40 of the Act,
'When the Collector impounds any instrument under Section 33 or receives any instrument sent to him under Section 38, Sub-section (2) not being a receipt or a bill of exchange or promissory note, he shall adopt the following procedure:--
(b) If he is of opinion that such instrument is chargeable with duty and is not duly stamped, he shall require the payment of the proper duty or the amount required to make up the same, together with a penalty of five rupees .....
Thus under Section 10, the Collector has power to demand the deficiency only in cases covered by Sections 33 and 38(2). An instrument sent to the Collector under Section 61(3) is not mentioned in Section 40 and the Collector is not authorised to demand the deficiency of the stamp duty or the penalty.
33. Proviso (b) to Sub-section (4) of Section 61 is also significant as it provides;
'Except for the purposes of such prosecution, no declaration made under this sectionshall affect the validity....of any certificate granted under Section 42.'
Under Section 42 a certificate is granted when dutyand penalty have been realised upon an instrument under Section 35, 40 or Section 41 that the properduty and penalty have been levied in respectthereof. Sub-section (2) of Section 42 is in these words:
'42 (2). Every instrument so endorsed shall thereupon be admissible in evidence, and may be registered and acted upon and authenticated as if it had been duly stamped. . . ...'
Thus, when under Section 35, the trial Court had admitted an instrument after realising stamp fluty and penalty and has given a certificate under Section 42 mentioned above, that certificate is declared to be final under Section 61(4), proviso (b) and the validity of that certificate if not affected by any declaration given under Section 61(2), meaning thereby that although the appellate Court has given a declaration that the trial Court was wrong in admitting an instrument on payment of a lesser duty and penalty, yet the certificate granted by the trial Court remains unaffected and the instrument must be treated as properly stamped for all purposes except criminal prosecution although according to the decision of the appellate Court, sufficient duty and penalty had still not been paid.
34. In view of these provisions, I am clearly of the opinion that the purpose of enacting Section 61 merely was to correct wrong decisions given by the trial Court at the time of admitting the instrument so that such mistakes may not occur in future and the relevant point may be clarified, and not for the purpose of realising the deficiency in the stamp duly. That being so, it is necessary that the trial Court at the time of admitting the document must have considered the question and must have given a decision which need a reconsideration by the appellate Court, in a case in which the trial Court has not applied its mind to this aspect of the matter, and has given no decision on the point there is no question of correcting that decision and the interpretation put upon the applicability of this section by a Division Bench of this Court in : AIR1962All353 , is, with respect, the correct view. The same view has been taken by the Lahore High Court in AIR 1946 Lah 265.'
35. I would, therefore, reject the report of the Chief Inspector of Stamps as incompetent.
S.D. Khare, J.
36.In this first appeal a report was made by the Chief Inspector of Stamps that the instrument Ex. I, bearing a stamp duty of Re. 1 only and its copy (Ex. A-1), bearing a stamp duty of the same amount, were deficiently stamped. He, therefore, recommended that action under Section 61 of the Stamp Act (hereinafter to be referred to as the Act:) may be taken, so that the deficient stamp duty and penalty might be realised from the parties concerned. According to the view taken by this Court in the case of : AIR1962All353 , no reference, under Section 61 of the Act was competent after the instrument had been admitted in evidence. The Division Bench before which the appeal is pending was of the opinion that the decision in the abovementioned case required reconsideration. It has, therefore, referred the report of the Chief Inspector of Stamps to a larger Bench for disposal.
37. I have had the advantage of reading the orders proposed to be delivered by my Lord the Chief Justice and my learned brother Bishambhar Dayal. I respectfully agree that the instrument in question (original Ex. I and its copy Ex. A-1) is a 'bond' as defined in Section 2(5)(b) of the Act, and chargeable under Article 15 of Schedule I-A of the Act with a stamp duty of Rs. 890-10-0 only; that the duplicate of the deed (Ex. A-1) is chargeable with a stamp duty of Rs. 1-14-0 only; and that there is a deficiency of Rs. 889-10-0 in respect of the original deed and of annas fourteen only in respect or the duplicate, i.e.. the copy, T have nothing to add to the reasons given by my Lord the Chief Justice.
38. There is also no force in the contention that the reference made by the Chief Inspector of Stamps is not competent. T have nothing to add to what has been said on this point by the Hon'ble the Chief Justice.
39. I now proceed to consider the main point which has been referred to this Full Bench.
40. The facts lending to this reference, briefly stated, are that the original document (Ex. ']) and its copy (Ex. A-1) are both deficiently stamped. No party pointed that out to the Court, which suo motu did not consider them to be deficiently stamped. The trial Court admitted both the documents in evidence and exhibited them by making the usual endorsements on them under the signatures of the presiding officer. The Court did not specifically consider the question of sufficiency of stamp duty and did not, while admitting the documents in evidence, specifically mention that they were duly stamped. The point for consideration, therefore, is whether such an order is revisable by the appellate Court under Section 61 of the Act. The view taken by a Division Bench of this Court in : AIR1962All353 (supra) is that such an order is not so revisable.
41. Section 3 of the Act provides that
'Subject to the provisions of this Act and the exemptions contained in Schedule I, the following instruments shall be chargeable with duty of the amount indicated in that Schedule as the proper duty therefore....
42. Section 6 of the Act lays down that if an instrument is so framed as to come within two or more of the descriptions contained in Schedule I or I-A or Schedule I-B it shall, where duty is chargeable thereunder are different, be chargeable only with the highest of such duties.
43. It is, therefore, clear from a perusal of these two sections of the Act that stamp duty has to he paid on instruments chargeable with duty and where any document is so framed as to come within two or more of the descriptions in the Schedules where the duties chargeable thereunder are different it shall be chargeable with the highest of such duties.
44. The relevant portion of Section 35 of the Act reads as follows-
'No instrument chargeable with duty shall be admitted in evidence for any purpose by any person having by law or consent of parties authority to receive evidence, or shall be acted upon, registered or authenticated by any such person or by any public officer unless such Instrument is duly stamped.'
45. The proviso to this section deals with three exceptions to the abovementioned rule. Those exceptions are-
(1) If duty and penalty is paid; Clauses (a) to (c) of the Proviso relate to this exception.
(2) In case the document is needed for evidence in any proceeding in a criminal Courtother than a proceeding under Chap. XII or Chap. XXXVI of the Code of Criminal Procedure; Clause (d) of the Proviso deals with this exception.
(3) It the instrument has been executed by or on behalf of the Government or bears the certificate of the Collector under Section 32 or any Other provision of the Act, vide Clause (e) of the Proviso.
46. Section 36 of the Act also needs consideration. It reads as follows:
'Where an instrument has been admitted in evidence, such admission shall not, except as provided in Section 61, be called in question at any stage of the same suit or proceeding on the ground that the instrument has not been duly stamped.'
Section 61(1) of the Act provides:--
'When any Court in the exercise of its civil or revenue jurisdiction....... .makes any order admitting any instrument in evidence as duly stamped or as not requiring a stamp or upon payment of duty and a penalty under Section 35, the Court to which appeals lie from or references are made by, such first mentioned Court may, of its own motion or on the application of the Collector, take such order into consideration.'
47. Sub-section (2) of Section 61 lays down that it such Court after such consideration is of the opinion that such instrument should not have been admitted in evidence without the payment of duty and penalty under Section 35 or without the payment of a higher duly or penalty than those paid it may record a declaration to that effect and determine the amount of duty with which such instrument is chargeable and may impound the same, when produced. Under Sub-section (3) of Section 61 of the Act the Court, after making the declaration under Sub-section (2) is required to send a copy thereof to the Collector and also the instrument which has been impounded. Subsection (4) of Section 61 provides that on the receipt of such declaration and the document impounded the Collector may prosecute any person for any offence against the Stamp law which the Collector considers him to have committed in respect of such instrument unless the duty and penalty which were payable under Section 35 of the Act are paid, ft has. however, been made clear that no declaration made under Section 61 shall affect the validity of any order admitting any instrument in evidence.
48. A perusal of the abovementioned provisions of the Act makes it clear that even in cases where an instrument has been admitted in evidence in contravention of the provisions of Sections 3 and 35 of the Act the order passed by the trial Court can be revised by the appellate Court under Section 61 of the Act and after a declaration has been granted as provided in Sub-section (2) of Section 61 the instrument has to be impounded and sent to the Collector for necessary action. However, the admissibility of a document, which was at one stage wrongly admitted in evidence, remains unaffected (vide Sections 36 and 61(4) of the Act).
49. The relevant provisions of the Act draw out a clear distinction between the admissibility in evidence of a document (instrument) wrongly admitted in evidence and its chargeability to stamp duty. Even though wrongly admitted in evidence at an earlier stage, its admissibility in evidence is not to be questioned at a later stage, but the wrong order, due to which the instrument has escaped stamp duty, is revisable under Section 61 of: the Act, and once it has been revised and a declaration granted under Section 61(2) of the Act, the Collector may proceed to prosecute the party concerned, unless the stamp duty and penalty payable under Section 35 of the Act are paid forthwith.
50. There is some divergence of judicial opinion on the point whether an order of the trial Court admitting a document in evidence but not clearly showing that the question of stamp duty was specifically considered and stamp duty paid was held to be sufficient can at all be questioned before the appellate Court under Section 61 of the Act. It was held in the following three cases that unless there is a clear finding and it is stated in the order admitting the instrument in evidence that it was sufficiently stamped, the provisions of Section 61 of the Act would not be attracted:--
(1) AIR 1946 Lah 265.
(2) : AIR1962All353 .
(3) Thakur Har Bux Singh v. Satish Chaudra : AIR1963All376 .
51. The reasons on which these decisions are based are-
(a) Unless the matter is considered and there is an order of the Court clearly stating that the instrument was duly stamped, it cannot be said to be a revisable order under Section 61 of the Act; and
(b) the Stump Act is a fiscal enactment and its provisions have to be strictly construed, and, therefore, an instrument, if admitted in evidence without consideration of the point of stamp duty, cannot be deemed to have been admitted in evidence as duly stamped.
52. On the other hand, it was held in the following cases that whenever there is an order admitting an instrument in evidence, it can be safely presumed that the Court which admitted the document in evidence considered it to be sufficiently stamped, and, therefore, it has to be implied that the Court has admitted the document in evidence also on the ground that it is sufficiently stamped:--
(1) AIR 1936 Pesh 186.
(2) : AIR1958Pat434 .
53. In the case of : AIR1962All353 (supra) the Court ultimately came to the conclusion that the instrument was sufficiently stamped. It was, therefore, not very material for the Court for the purposes of that case to have considered the effect of Section 61 of the Act. However, since the question now before us was considered and decided by the Court, the reasons given for arriving at that decision have to be duly considered.
54. The trial Court acted judicially when it admitted the documents Exs. I and A-1 in evidence. While considering the effect of Section 36 of the Act the Supreme Court observed in the case of : 2SCR333 , that-
'The Court has to judicially determine the matter as soon as the document is tendered in evidence and before it is marked as an exhibit in the case........ Once a document has beenmarked as an exhibit. .... .and the trial Courthas proceeded all along on the footing that the document was an exhibit in the case and has used by the parties in examination and cross-examination. .......Section 36 of the Stamp Actcomes into operation'.
55. Under Section 114 of the Indian Evidence Act a presumption can be made that 'judicial and official acts have been regularly performed'. Whenever a Court passes a summary order the import of that order has got to be determined keeping in view the following considerations:--
(1) The duties, if any, which were imposed on the Court before passing that order; and
(2) the stage at which the order was passed.
56. Whenever a Court of competent jurisdiction passes a summary order it has to be presumed under Section 114 of the Evidence Act that all that the Court was required to take into consideration before that order could be passed has been taken into consideration. For example, where an appellate Court admits an appeal merely by passing a one-word order 'Admit', it has to be presumed that the appellate Court had taken into consideration the memorandum of appeal and the judgment of the lower Court and arrived at the conclusion that-
(1) the memorandum of appeal was inorder; and
(2) the grounds of appeal were prima facie not devoid or all force.
Again, where an appeal is dismissed at the admission stage merely by the use of the word 'Dismissed', the following things are implied in that order:--
(i) The memorandum of appeal and the judgment of the lower Court were duly considered; and
(ii) the Court arrived at the definite conclusion that there was no merit in the appeal.
57. Merely because the grounds for admitting or dismissing an appeal are not mentioned in the order itself it cannot be said that those grounds were not considered at the time the summary order was passed.
58. Before admitting a document in evidence the Court, was in view of the provisions of Sections 3 and 35 of the Act, bound to consider the question of stamp duty. Where no objection is raised about the insufficiency of stamp duty on any instrument, and the Court suo motu does not consider it to be insufficiently stamped, the order passed by the Court admitting it in evidence clearly amounts to an order passed by it on the ground also that it was sufficiently stamped. A trial Court admitting an instrument in evidence has to consider whether the instrument is relevant and admissible in evidence, and, in the case of an instrument requiring to be stamped, whether it is sufficiently stamped or the duty and penalty have been paid. Such an order, therefore, involves a finding that the instrument is relevant, that it is admissible in evidence, and that it is duly stamped, or does not require to be stamped, or the duty and penalty have been paid. It cannot, therefore. Be said that an order revisable under Section 61 or the Act does not exist.
59. The Stamp Act is, no doubt, a fiscal enactment and has to be strictly construed. But there is nothing specific in Section 61 of the Act to indicate that the Court should in its order specifically consider the question of sufficiency of stamp duty and record the same. In fact the sufficiency of stamp duty was merely one of the grounds for admitting the document in evidence. It is not at all necessary that all the grounds on which a summary order is based must necessarily be mentioned in writing. A trial Court's order, even though it does not contain reasons can be taken into consideration by a superior Court, vide : AIR1965SC1698 .
60. The intention of the legislature while enacting Section 61 of the Act clearly was that although the admissibility of a document once admitted in evidence could not be questioned (vide Sections 36 and 61(4) of the Act) the party filing that instrument in Court should not escape without paying deficient stamp duty and penalty or without suffering the consequences of nonpayment. Whenever a document, which is deficiently stamped, comes before the Court any of the following three contingencies may arise:--
(i) The Court may have no material before it to doubt that it was deficiently stamped, and it may admit it in evidence as sufficiently stamped;
(ii) the Court may have at one stage doubted that it was deficiently stamped but it might have held that it was sufficiently stamped;
(iii) the Court might have arrived at the conclusion that it was deficiently stamped but the deficiency and penalty were made good under Section 35 of the Act.
61. All the abovementioned three contingencies have been specifically provided for in Section 61 of the Act. Therefore, the intention of the legislature, while enacting Section 61 of the Act, clearly was that no one should escape stamp duty even though by a wrong order of the Court at the initial stage a document becomes admissible in evidence and the effect of its admissibility is not to be questioned at any subsequent stage.
62. In these circumstances the maxim that fiscal enactments have to be strictly construed in favour of the subject will be of little avail to the parties who had filed the instruments marked Ex. I and Ex. A-1.
63. In view of what has been said in the preceding paragraphs, I respectfully disagree with the legal proposition enunciated in the cases of : AIR1962All353 and AIR 1946 Lah 265, and respectfully concur in the proposed order under Section 61 of the Act. In my opinion, however, it should be made clear in that order that the two instruments (Exs. I and A-l) shall be sent to the Collector only after they are no longer needed in the appeal.
64. This Court is of the opinion that the two so-called agreements Ex. I and Ex. A-1 should not have been admitted in evidence by the Additional Civil Judge without payment of a higher duty than the duty paid and of a penalty, records under Section 61(2) of the Stamp Act this declaration, determines the amount of duty with which Ex. I is chargeable at Rs. 890.62 paisas and the duty with which Ex. A-1 is chargeable at Rs. 1.88 paisas and impounds the two instruments.
65. A copy of this declaration shall be sent to the Collector together with the two instruments for action required under Sub-section (4) of Section 61. The instruments shall be sent to the Collector only if not required in this appeal or after their true copies are placed on the record in their place.
66. The plaintiff-respondent shall pay thecosts of this reference, which we assess atRs. 200,00 to the State. Counsel's fee is assessedat Rs. 200.