1. This is a reference under Section 57 (1), Sub-clause (b), Stamp Act 1899. The facts as stated in the reference are that a document, called a sarkhat, was executed by Messrs. Shyam Sunder Lal, Shankar Lal agreeing to pay interest at Rs. 1-4-0 per cent. per mensem. The top portion which contained the agreement to pay interest was signed by these two persons. Below their signatures there was a first entry of Rs. 500 as having been advanced to these men on the same date. Then followed entries of a number of items on the credit side and also entries of a number of items on the debit side. These however were neither totalled nor signed again. The document bore a stamp of eight annas. The impounding officer seems to be of opinion that every entry of borrowing is a separate agreement and ought to be stamped separately.
2. The document is very peculiar and is on the facts stated in the reference, not like an ordinary mahajan's receipt written by the creditor and handed over to the debtor in order to be kept by him as a proof of the payment. As the facts are stated, the entries on both the sides of this sarkhat are made by the debtors, Shyam Sunder Lal Shankar Lal, themselves. The reference does not mention whether they themselves kept the document or whether it was handed over to the creditors. It is, however, clear that there were various borrowings made on different dates.
3. There can be no doubt that the top portion of the document amounted to an agreement which required a stamp duty of eight annas. So far as that portion is concerned the document is sufficiently stamped. As regards the entries other than the first entry of Rs. 500 it is difficult to hold that each of them constituted a separate agreement in itself. Under Section 17, Stamp Act, instruments chargeable with duty which are executed are required to be stamped before or at the time of their execution. The word 'executed' has been defined in Section 2, Sub-clause (12), as meaning 'signed with reference to instrument.' It is clear that none of the other entries was signed by the debtors. It cannot, therefore, be said that they were separate agreements executed by the debtors on various dates. The impounding officer seems to think that the signatures of the executants below the top entry would govern all the entries that follow underneath those signatures. We are unable to accept this view. In order to be so many different agreements, they should have been separately 'executed' which cannot be the case here when there are only one set of signatures. In our opinion, therefore, the document does not constitute more than one agreement, and is not under stamped on that ground. It is unnecessary for us to consider the further question whether the other entries amount to receipts within the meaning of Section 2, Sub-clause (23), which do not require the signature of any person. The reference does not state to whom this document was handed over and there are not sufficient materials before us to come to any conclusion as to whether each entry amounted to a note, memorandum or writing signifying or importing an acknowledgment within the meaning of Section 2, Sub-clause (23). Our answer to the reference is that it does not constitute more than one agreement.