Chandrasekhara Ayyar, J.
1. The Subordinate Judge held that the suit promissory note, Ex. A, was materially altered after it was executed and that certain words were introduced later. The words appear above the signature of the defendant and below the date and their translation is 'the Proprietor of the Karthika Stores.' The plaintiff is the assignee from the 2nd defendant who was the original payee.
2. As the alteration is apparent on the face of the document the onus is on the plaintiff to explain it and to show that it is not a material alteration which renders the instrument void and unenforceable. The plaintiff has made no such attempt. The learned Subordinate Judge has held that the alteration is material in that the defendant Andi was sought to be converted into 'Andi, Proprietor of the Karthika Stores.' The answer given by the plaintiff is that it does not amount to anything more than a mere description and that in this case it happens to be a wrong description because Andi was not the Proprietor of the Karthika Stores, either according to the plaintiff or according to himself. Therefore, he contends that it is an immaterial alteration which does not affect the legality of the note, Mr. Swaminatha Aiyar also contended that a mere description of that kind which is not found in the body of the document cannot absolve the personal liability of the executant under the note, as has now been held by a Full Bench of our Court.
3. The fact that an alteration does not ultimately involve any change in the rights and liabilities of the parties is not very germane to the consideration of the question whether it amounts to a material alteration within the meaning of Section 87 of the Negotiable Instruments Act. Whether the change be prejudicial or beneficial to the maker does not in the least matter. To use the language of Lord Justice Brett in Suffell v. The Bank of England (1882) 9 Q.B.D. 555.
Any alteration of any instrument seems to be material which would, alter the business effect of the instrument if. used for any ordinary business purpose.
One cannot definitely predicate what was at the back of the person who made the alteration and why it was considered necessary to have the words inserted in this note. It is not the plaintiff's case that it was some inexplicable or frolicsome act of a stranger. It may be, whatever the law was or is, that the plaintiff or the payee thought that the insertion of these words would widen the liability of the executant. It is also possible that the Karthika Stores, were intended to be affected by this change. So long as it is not the same instrument as the defendant executed and there has been an alteration which might well be considered material even though ultimately it may not have the consequence that was intended, it is open to the defendant to say that the instrument that he gave has ceased to be of any force by reason of the alteration. To quote from the decision in Krushnacharana Padhi v. Gourochandro Dyano Sumamta : AIR1940Mad62 of Abdur Rahman, J.,
If the legal identity or the character of the instrument has been. affected or if the liability has been attempted to have been extended by the alteration, it must be held to be material and this would be so irrespective of the fact whether the alteration is to the prejudice of the promisor or the executant of the instrument or not.
Mr. Ranganatha Aiyar for the respondent relied on Davidson v. Cooper (1844) 13 M. & W. 343 : 153 E.R. 142, for the position that even an immaterial alteration would affect the binding nature of the instrument and he said that in that case the addition of two seals by and near to the respective signatures of the defendants was held sufficient to discharge the liability of the maker under the instrument. In urging this argument the learned advocate overlooked the fact that the addition of the seals was not an empty 'formality but was apparently intended to convert the document of guarantee into what is technically called the deed of the defendants. A deed technically so called imports certain liabilities and obligations of a wider nature than if it had remained an ordinary instrument of guarantee. This is apparent from the argument of Mr. Watson who appeared for the defendant in that case who pointed out that the addition of the seals was most material if it was a deed, sealed and delivered. If the attesting witness was dead, upon the proof of his handwriting, it would have been taken to be a deed of the defendant and it would have been difficult for the defendant to negative the fact by evidence. If it was a document under hand only the consideration must have appeared on the face of it, but if it was under seal that objection would have been obviated. Again the period of limitation would be more or less according as the document were a deed or not. It was on such considerations that the Court of Exchequer held that the alteration was material and its decision was confirmed. Lord Denman, C.J., says:
That the addition gives a different legal character to the writing and would, if made with the consent of all interested, completely change the nature of the relation towards each other of the parties to it, and the remedies upon it.
So it is not right to say that it was a case where a mere addition of seals had rendered the instrument void and of no effect, apart from the question whether the alteration by reason of this addition was material or not.
4. I agree, however, with the lower Court in thinking that the alteration in this case by the addition of the words 'Proprietor of Karthika Stores' was a material alteration intended to be such though it might be that the plaintiff had ultimately made up his mind to sue the defendant in his individual capacity and has accepted the defendant's case that he had nothing to do with the Karthika Stores at any time either as proprietor or in any other capacity.
5. This revision petition is dismissed with costs.