(1) This revision has been preferred by the plaintiff from the order of the learned District Munsiff of Sirkali, holding that a note relied upon by the plaintiff as a receipt could not be admitted in evidence even on payment of stamp duty and penalty thereon, as it was an acknowledgement falling under Art. 1, Schedule I, of the Indian Stamp Act. The plaintiff had instituted this suit for recovery of a sum of money, which he had advanced to the defendant on a promise of the defendant to execute a mortgage for the amount. It is stated that contemporaneously with the above, the defendant had given this receipt. It is this receipt, which the learned District Munsif, held, as not admissible in evidence. In the view of the learned District Munsif, it not merely acknowledges the receipt of money, but also acknowledges the money as a debt due to the plaintiff. The receipt had been filed along with the plaint and a penalty has been collected as on an instrument falling under S. 2(23) of the Stamp Act. It just recites that on the date on the date in question the signatory had received cash Rs. 1000. Nothing more is stated therein. It does not acknowledge any debt of the executant; just a fact of payment is stated.
(2) The question is, whether this can be considered as an acknowledgement falling under Art. I Schedule I of the Act. To fall under that provision, the acknowledgement must be of a debt exceeding 20 rupees in amount or value, written or signed by, or on behalf of, a debtor in order to supply evidence of such debt and further the acknowledgement should not contain any promise to pay the debt or any stipulation to pay interest or to deliver any goods or other property. As observed in Surjimull Murlidhar Chandick v. Anantalal Damani, ILR Mad 948: (AIR 1924 Mad 352 , the question for consideration is 'whether the particular document was given to supply evidence of the debt'. Sir Walter Schwabe, Chief Justice after discussing the case law observes this:
'That being the state of the authorities, the court has to apply its mind to the question looking at the document and the surrounding circumstances--What was the intention with which the document was given; was that meant to be a bare acknowledgement and a promise to pay to be used in evidence against the sender, or was it sent for some other dominant purpose? In my judgment, the answer must be that it was given with the intention that it was to be a statement of account as between the parties containing entries on payments by the defendant as well as a statement of debits due from him, and also a statement of the calculation of interest and the rate of interest which the defendant admitted that he was under a liability to pay. In these circumstances, in my judgement, the document is not an acknowledgement and ought to have been admitted'.
The question which the court will have to address itself is what was the dominant purpose in giving the note in question. Was it an acknowledgement as a debt to supply evidence of such debt? It my view, in the circumstances pleaded in this case, and on the words of the instrument which are quite plain it cannot be said that it is an acknowledgement coming under Art. 1, Sch. I of the Act. Section 2(23) defines a receipt inter alia thus:
'Receipt' includes any note, memorandum or writing--(a) whereby any money, or any bill of exchange, cheque or promissory note is acknowledged to have been received'.
The instrument in question plainly acknowledges and only acknowledges the receipt of a sum of Rs. 1000 and would fall clearly within the definition of a receipt.
(3) The learned District Munsif is, in my view, in error in refusing to admit this document. If it is a receipt, it will fall under S. 35, proviso (b) of the Act, which runs thus:
'Where any person from whom a stamped receipt could have been demanded, has given an unstamped receipt and such receipt, if stamped, would be admissible in evidence against him, then such receipt shall be admitted in evidence against him on payment of penalty of one rupee by the person tendering it'.
The plaintiff, who has paid the penalty would be entitled to have the receipt admitted in evidence, in the circumstances. The revision is accordingly allowed. No order as to costs.
(4) Revision allowed.