Alfred Henry Lionel Leach, C.J.
1. The question in this appeal is whether the Subordinate Judge rightly held a certain document to be inadmissible in evidence. If this document is excluded, it is conceded that there is no substantial basis for challenging the decree under appeal.
2. On the 12th March, 1881, the Zamindar of Sivaganga granted to one Ulagappa Chettiar a permanent cowle of 100 kurukkams of forest land. We are told that 100 kurukkams is roughly the equivalent of 57 acres. The plaintiffs' case is that the cowle was granted to Ulagappa Ghettiar acting on behalf of the members of two Nattukottai Chettiar families, the P.M.A. family of which the plaintiffs are members and the O.A. family of which the members are defendants 39 to 52. The plaintiffs alleged that the share of their family was three-eighths and the share of the O.A. family five-eighths. The members of the O.A. family denied that the P.M.A. family had any interest in the cowle. The first defendant purchased the cowle from the O.A. family and subsequently sold most of the lands to defendants 2 to 38. The learned Subordinate Judge held that the P.M.A. family had no interest in the cowle. It had been granted to Ulagappa acting for the O.A. family alone.
2. Before the trial commenced the plaintiffs produced an unstamped document bearing the date 1st November, 1902 and purporting to have been executed by Ulagappa Ghettiar in favour of the head of the P.M.A. family. Before the trial commenced a mob invaded the Court house and set fire to it. The result was that many records were destroyed, including the record in the present case. When the trial commenced the plaintiffs sought to put in a copy of the document. This was objected to on the ground that a copy could not be stamped even on the payment of the penalty. Moreover the original itself was inadmissible by reason of nonregistration. It was also averred that the document had been fabricated by the plaintiffs for the purposes of their case. The Subordinate Judge, without admitting the document but leaving the question of its admissibility open until he had heard the arguments of counsel at the conclusion of the case, marked it as Ex. P-8 (a). It is clear from his judgment that in doing so it was not to be regarded as an exhibit in the case.
3. The disputed document purported to be a copy of a deed under which Ulagappa Chettiar released all claim to 5-5/8 kurukkams of land to P.M.A. family. The 5-5/8 kurukkams were said to form part of 30 kurukkams of forest land of which the P.M.A. and the O.A. families had purchased the kudivaram rights from certain Nattars on the 17th June, 1884. It was suggested by the plaintiffs that these 30 kurukkams formed part of the 100 kurukkams granted by the Sivaganga Zamindar to Ulagappa Chettiar on the 12th March, 1881. There is no evidence that the 30 kurukkams did form part of the larger area and the probabilities are all against it, because the cowle of the 12th March, 1881, covered both the kudivaram and melvaram rights. In these circumstances there could be no need for the grantees of the cowle to purchase the kudivaram right in part of the land covered by it. The plaintiffs wanted to put in a copy of the disputed document because they considered that it supported their claim with regard to a share in the land covered by the cowle. This in itself is to be doubted; but in any event it is quite clear that the disputed document cannot be admitted in evidence.
4. Section 34 of the Stamp Act only relates to the stamping of original documents. See Raja of Bobbili v. Inuganti China Sitaramaswami Garu . The fact that the document filed in Court before the trial began was destroyed by the mob's action puts the plaintiffs in no better position. In Rippiner v. Wright (1819) 2 B. Ald. 478 : 106 E.R. 440 it was held that where an agreement on unstamped paper had been destroyed, no parol evidence could be given of its contents, even if it had been destroyed by the wrongful act of the party who took the objection. In that case an agreement had been reduced into writing on unstamped paper. The plaintiff snatched it from the hands of the defendant's attorney and then destroyed it. It was contended that the plaintiff, by bis act in destroying the paper, had prevented the defendant from getting it stamped, as he might have done, on payment of the penalty and therefore it was not competent for him to take the objection with regard to its admissibility. It was held that the evidence was properly rejected. It was the duty of the parties to an agreement to take care that when it was executed it was properly stamped; and it was one of the risks attendant upon an omission to do this that if an accident happened to the document before the stamp was affixed, there was no remedy. It was not possible to say whether or not the Commissioners of Stamps, in the epcer-cise of their discretion, would have permitted the agreement, if it had remained in existence, to be stamped on payment of the penalty.
5. It appears that the plaintiffs in this case did pay the penalty into Court, but this was done of their own volition without any decision on the question of admissibility. The further objection that the original document was not admissible because it was not registered must also be accepted. The document clearly purported to release interest in immoveable property and required registration.
6. We uphold the decision of the Subordinate Judge with regard to the inadmissi-bility of the document and as the learned Counsel for the appellants has nothing further to urge, we must dismiss the appeal with costs in favour of the first respondent.