(1) The appellant was the managing director of the Deccan Chemicals Ltd., a company registered under the Indian Companies Act. 1913. The company has borrowed from the first respondent a sum of Rs. 10,000 on pledge of certain goods. Interest was agreed to be paid at six per cent per annum on the amount due. The company defaulted in the due repayment of the debt. After giving the statutory notice demanding payment of money due, the first respondent filed on 8-2-1955. O. P. No. 68 of 1955 for the winding up of the company on the ground that it was unable to pay its debts. The managing director who was anxious to avoid the winding up proceedings negotiated a settlement with the first respondent under which the latter agreed to withdraw the winding up proceedings initiated by it, if he were to guarantee the payment. To this the managing director agreed. accordingly he executed on 6-8-1955 a letter in favour of the first respondent in the following terms:
"In consideration of your having agreed at my request to give time to the Deccan Chemicals Ltd., for payment of the debt due by them and for settling the O. P. No. 68 of 1955 filed by you for the winding up of the Deccan Chemicals Ltd., I hereby agree to guarantee the due repayment of all monies due by the Deccan Chemicals Ltd, to the Indo-Commercial Bank Ltd. If the said company fails to pay off the entire amount due on or before 31-10-1955, I shall pay the same personally and I am liable for the same."
The contingency contemplated by that letter happened. The company defaulted to pay the amount due within the time specified. The first respondent thereupon issued a statutory notice upon the company making a demand for payment. It also issued a notice to the appellant calling upon him to perform his obligations under the letter aforesaid. There was no response by either party to the demands made, either by payment or even by any answer to the letters. As we stated the bank had certain security by way of pledge of goods for the amount due to it. With the consent of the parties concerned those goods were sold by public auction and a sum of Rs. 3000 was realised at such sale; the proceeds were appropriated by the first respondent in part satisfaction of the amount due to it under the loan transaction.
Soon after the sale on 7-3-1956 the appellant wrote another letter to the bank accepting the sale of the pledged goods; referring to the letter of personal guarantee executed by him, he stated "I accept the above arrangement and hold myself responsible for the payment of the balance due to you and my guarantee to that extent will be in full force". The company was not able to pay the balance of the amount due under the loan transaction, nor did the appellant honour his obligations which he undertook under the letters aforesaid. The bank thereupon filed O. P. 147 of 1956 on the company side of this court to wind up the company. That application was successful. sometime after the initiation of those proceedings it filed the suit out of which this appeal arises against the appellant for recovery of the amount due by the company from the appellant, the guarantor.
(2) The substantial defence to the action was that the letter of guarantee was one executed on the express understanding that the company would never be proceeded against by initiating the winding up proceedings and inasmuch as the bank had, contrary to such undertaking, commenced such proceedings, it would not be entitled to maintain any action on the letter of guarantee. In support of that contention evidence was sought to be let in to show that the consideration for the letter of guarantee in addition to what as stated in it, consisted in an undertaking on the part of the creditor not to proceed against the company at any time thereafter by way of winding it up by reason of any inability to pay up its debts. The learned Assistant Judge, City Civil Court, Madras did not accept the defence. He held that it should not be competent for the appellant to let in evidence to show that besides the actual consideration set out in the letter of guarantee which formed the basis of the contract, there was some other consideration agreed to between the parties. The suit against the appellant was, therefore decreed. hence this appeal.
(3) From the terms of Ex. A. 2 to which we have made reference earlier, it is plain that the only promise given by the creditor was to give time to the Deccan Chemicals Ltd., for payment of the debt due to it and to withdraw the winding up proceedings then instituted. The letter itself contains a provision about the length of time given when it said that the company was to pay the entire amount due on or before 31-10-1955. It is not now disputed that in accordance with that letter O. P. 68 of 1955 was withdrawn and thereby the proceedings against the company then pending came to an end. The letter of guarantee is clear and unambiguous and on its terms there is really no scope for any contention that the creditor's right to institute proceedings under the Indian Companies Act for future defaults had been taken away. In other words there is nothing in the letter to show that the creditor has bound itself not to file any application for the winding up of the company, for future defaults in respect of a monetary liability.
What was agreed to then was only with regard to the proceedings then pending, namely, O. P. 68 of 1955. The case for the appellant, however, is that in addition to the consideration for the letter of guarantee set out in that letter, there was another consideration, namely, a promise by the creditor not to initiate the winding up proceedings against the company and as the document is silent in regard to that matter it would be competent for the aggrieved party to adduce evidence to support that case. We are unable to see how evidence in regard to that matter can at all be allowed.
Proviso (1) to S. 92 of the Evidence Act says that any fact may be proved which would invalidate any document or which would show want or failure of consideration. It is well recognised that under the terms of the proviso while it will be competent to the party to a contract to adduce evidence to prove want of consideration or failure of consideration or a difference in kind of consideration specified in the document, it will not be competent for him to prove a variation of the consideration recited in the document. Consideration specified in a document will be one of the terms of the contract evidenced by it. Thus, where consideration although specified to be of a particular kind, e.g. cash can and will be shown to be for different kind, or it can be shown that it is false and that there was really no consideration. But this is different from a case where a party admits the passing of consideration specified in the document, but attempts to show that the consideration was either less or more than what is specified. This he is not allowed to do.
In Adityam Ayer v. Ramakrishna Iyer, ILR 38 Mad 514 : (AIR 1915 Mad 868) dealing with a registered deed of sale containing a clause as to the amount of the price for the sale, the learned Judges held that the amount of the price agreed to be paid would be an essential term of the contract of sale, and that consequently no evidence of an oral agreement at variance with the provisions of a registered sale deed as to the amount of the price fixed for the sale would be admissible under S. 92 of the Indian Evidence Act.
This question was elaborately considered by a Full Bench of the Allahabad High Court in Mahomed Taki Khan v. Jang Singh, AIR 1935 All 529 (FB) where it was held that the amount of sale consideration would constitute a term of deed of sale and where such term was proved in accordance with the provisions of S. 91 of the Indian Evidence Act, no evidence of any oral agreement or statement could be admitted as between the parties thereto, for the purpose of contradicting, varying, adding to or subtracting from the amount of sale consideration. This will indeed be clear if one closely examines the terms of proviso 1 to S. 92 of the Evidence Act. Want or failure of consideration must be such as to invalidate the document. That would mean that there should be total lack of consideration, before the term of the document in that regard is contradicted. therefore, to say that the consideration recited in the document is but a part of a larger consideration which is not specified in it, it will amount to nothing less than contradicting the very term as to consideration for the document.
Mr. Ramakrishna Iyer, then, contended that the present case would come within the second proviso and evidence would be admissible to show the existence of any separate oral agreement as to a matter on which the document was silent, particularly when it was not inconsistent with its terms. Support for that contention was sought in the decision of the Patna High Court reported in Ran Bahadur Singh v. Awadhbehari, AIR 1939 Pat 411. That case was concerned with a plea of discharge of a liability not specified in the document. the present case is entirely different. The document here is not silent in regard to the consideration; it recites the particular consideration which induced the appellant to execute his letter of guarantee. On the authorities to which we have made reference it will be plain that it would not be competent for the appellant to show that in addition to the consideration recited in the document there was some other inducement therefor, but on which the document is silent. To permit that will plainly be against the specific terms of S. 92 of the Evidence Act.
There is no substance, therefore, in the contention that the lower court was in error in having excluded oral evidence on the question of there having been a separate oral agreement to which the creditor agreed that it will give up its right to proceed against the company under the Indian Companies Act even if the latter failed to perform its obligation undertaken at the time of the settlement. The appeal fails and is dismissed with costs.
(4) I agree.
(5) Appeal dismissed.