1. This revision petition is filed by the plaintiff against the order of the lower Court holding that the burden of proof that the document was not properly executed is on the defendant. According to the petitioner defendant, the first respondent entered into an agreement on 9-10-1952 according to which the parties adjusted their rights inter se under the compromise decree. The plea of the first respondent is that he only knows to sign his name and he had no knowledge of the contents of the documents to which his signatures are taken; and he was not informed of the contents of the documents as the documents were not read over or explained to him. The lower court, holding that it was not the first respondent's case that his signatures were taken in blank sheets and that he had signed the completed documents, held that the burden of proof is on the first respondent and he had to begin. Reliance was placed for this view on Natesa Gounder v. Ramayya gounder, (1966) 79 MLW (SN) 16, where it was held by this Court that an admission by putting one's name on blank sheet cannot amount to an acknowledgment or token of the execution of a document. It was also held that if the plaintiff made out a prima facie case by showing that the signature to a completed document is that of the defendant, it will be for the defendant to establish in what circumstances his signature is found on the completed document. The effect of this decision is that an admission of putting one's name to a blank sheet cannot amount to an acknowledgment of its contents. If the signature was put on a completed document, it is a for the defendant to establish under what circumstances his signature is found in the completed document.
2. In Omanhene Kwamin Bassayin v. Omanhene Bendenty II , their Lordships of the Privy council in dealing with a case in which a person not knowing the English language had affixed his mark to a document written in English language, held that the onus to prove that the document was properly explained and interpreted to the person affixing his mark so as to make him to understand its true import is on the party relying on the document. The plea taken by the plaintiff in that case was that the document in question is not binding on him Omanhene of Aowin, because it was in the English language and had not been properly explained and interpreted to the Omanhene of Aowin when he affixed his mark to it; in other words, that it had not been explained and interpreted to him so as to make him understand its true import. Under the circumstances, it was held that the onus lies upon the defendant to establish that the document had in fact been properly explained and interpreted so as to make the plaintiff understand its real import. This decision is an authority for the proposition that if the executant did not know the contents of the document or when it is a language not known to the executant it cannot be said that the executant had really executed the document.
3. In this case, the plea of the plaintiff is that he is illiterate and that apart from putting his signature he does not know how to read or write. In the circumstances, the burden is on the plaintiff to prove that the defendant had executed the document. The learned counsel for the respondents submitted that in the memorandum of grounds to the revision petition, the plea taken was that the petitioner executed the blank sheet of paper and this is contrary to the plea taken in the trial. The learned counsel is right, but the lower Court was passing the order on the pleadings before it where the defendant submitted that he was illiterate and that the contents of the document were not read over or explained to him. In the circumstances, the decision in is applicable and it has to be held that the burden is on the defendant to prove that the plaintiff had executed the compromise agreement. The petition is allowed and the defendant will be directed to begin and prove his case of execution of the document by the plaintiff. No costs.