1. I am directed to state under Section 57(1)(b) Stamp Act, 1899, the following case for decision of the Hon'ble High Court.
2. The enclosed document executed 23rd October 1923, on a stamp of eight annas by Messrs. Shyam Sunder Lal, Shankar Lal, in favour of Messrs. Badri Prasad, Bishambhar Nath has been impounded by the Judge of the Court of Small Causes, Allahabad, and seat to the Collector of the district under Section 38(2), for action under Section 40 of the Act. It shows on the left hand side sums of money borrowed, and on the opposite side sums of money repaid, on different dates, entries on both sides being made by the executants Shyam Sunder Lal, Shankar Lal. At the top of the instrument is stated that Shyam Sunder Lal, Shankar Lal executed the sarkhat in favour of Badri Prasad, Bishambhar Nath, the interest being paid at Re. 1-4-0 per cent. per mensem. This part of the document is signed by Shankar Lal, and Sangam Lal. The latter is apparently a representative of the Firm of Shyam Sunder Lal-Shankar Lal. Since this part contains a stipulation to pay interest it is clearly required, under Mahadeo Kori v. Sheoraj Ram Teli 52 Ind. Cas. 974 : 41 A. 169 : 17 A.L.J. 19 : 1 U.P.L.R.(A)29, to be stamped as an. agreement under Article 5 (c), Schedule I of the Act and is properly stamped with eight annas. But the document as a whole consists of seven items on the side which shows the sums of money borrowed. Of these items five are of different dates and two items of Rs. 25 and Rs. 50-6-0 which represent interest due on Rs. 500 and Rs. 700 respectively, are of the same dates as the two principal sums of Rs. 700 each. The impounding officer is of opinion that for every entry the document should be stamped separately and is, therefore, under-stamped. The Collector being in doubt as to whether duty should be charged on the top entry of Rs. 500 only, which was made on the date of the execution of the instrument or on each of the entries separately, has referred the case to the Board under Section 56 (2), Stamp Act. In an analogous case in Tulsi Ram y. Emperor 20 I.C. 216 : 35 A. 290 : 11 A.L.J. 309 : 14 Ch.L.J. 392 where various items of repayments of over Rs. 20 each in a sarkhat were entered separately, but the creditor firm had acknowledged and stamped only the last item of Rs. 50, it was held that the document required a separate stamp in respect of each item of over Rs. 20. Following this ruling the Board are of opinion that the document mentioned in the preceding naragraph also comprises distinct matters whithin the meaning of Section 5, Stamp Act, and requires as many eight annas stamps as here are entries on the side showing sums money borrowed or at least five such stamps excluding the two entries representing the interest. But at the same time the Board are doubtful on the point in that each of the several entries of dates other than that of execution is not signed separately by the borrowers and, therefore, not executed within the meaning of Section 2 (12) of the Act. Moreover the entries are so connected together that it is not quite clear whether they form one transaction or a series of transactions. In these circumstances the decision of the Hon'ble High Court is solicited on the following point, viz., Whether the signatures of the executants, and their agreement at top cover only the top entry of Rs. 500 which was made at the time of execution or apply to other entries also which followed on different dates and are governed by the same agreement given at the top including the two entries of interest, that is, whether the document is sufficiently stamped having been already written on a stamp of eight annas or whether it requires a further stamp of Rs. 3 or of Rs. 2 excluding the two items of interest
3. This is a reference under Section 57(1), Sub-clause (6), of the Indian Stamp Act of 1899. The facts as stated in the reference are that a document, called a sarkhat, was executed by Messrs. Shiam Sundar Lal, Shankar Lal, agreeing to pay interest at Re. 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.
4. 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, Shiam Sundar 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.
5. 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 of the Indian 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 is 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).
6. Our answer to the reference is that it does not constitute more than one agreement.