1. Petitioner being aggrieved with the order of the first respondent holding that the deed dated 20-8-1975, executed by Palaniswamy Pillai and three others, is only a settlement, within the meaning of S. 2(24)(C) of the Stamp Act, has filed this writ petition. The first respondent rejected the plea of the petitioner that stamp duty is leviable only under Art. 64 in Sch. I of the said Act.
2. Mr. Balathandapani, learned counsel for the petitioner, contends that when orders have been passed by the first respondent determining that the duty is leviable only under Section 2(24)(c) of the Indian Stamp Act, and that only one half of the duty, would be payable in the light of the orders issued under (Item 47) G. O. Ms. No. 1225, Revenue dated 25-4-1964, it is for this Court to construe the document and decide the nature of the document, in exercising its powers under Article 226, of the Constitution of India.
3. According to him, in the light of the decision of the Full Bench in Chief Controlling Revenue Authority v. Muthukumar : AIR1979Mad5 , there could have been no difficulty for the respondents to understand the nature of the document.
4. The Additional Government Pleader would resist this claim by stating that when the statute itself contemplates for a reference to be made to this Court under S. 57 of the Act, if the petitioner had been aggrieved, he should have asked for a reference and having failed to do so, he is precluded from raising this plea in this petition. Even on the merits of the claim made, the Additional Government Pleader contends that the nature of the document had been correctly determined, taking into account the recitals contained therein.
5. In Rustom Nusserwanji, v. State of Madras : AIR1962Mad397 , it has been held that if the matter is very plain and escapable of any arguments, then the guiding principle for the authority, would be, to make the reference when the aggrieved party seeks for such a reference. In the instant case, the petitioner had not asked for any reference and the first respondent has already rendered its decision.
6. As to whether, while filing this writ petition, a direction could be secured for making a reference under S. 57, in the light of the decision rendered in Banarsi Das Ahluwalia v. Chief Controlling Revenue Authority, Delhi : 1SCR685 , even in a case where no such relief had been asked for and orders had been already passed by the first respondent, and not pending before him a reference could be asked for by the affected party. It was held therein as follows (at p. 502) :-
'Section 57 affords a remedy to the citizen to have his case referred to the High Court against an order of a revenue authority imposing stamps duty and/ or penalty provided the application involves a substantial question of law and imposes a corresponding obligation on the Authority to refer it to the High Court for its opinion. Such a right and obligation cannot be construed to depend upon any subsidiary circumstances such as the pendency of the case before the Authority.'
7. Therefore even after the orders have been passed, respondents could be asked to make a reference under S. 57 of the Act, by the affected party.
8. In Saradambal v. C. C. R. Authority : AIR1960Mad21 it was held that when the affected party approaches the Court under Art. 226 of the Constitution to quash the orders of the Chief Controlling Revenue Authority, a direction can be given, in spite of the matter having been finally disposed of.
9. A Division Bench of the Delhi High Court in Union of India v. S. Sarup Singh : AIR1968Delhi219 , held that there is no need for any application to be made for making the reference and that the Revenue Authority can act suo motu.
10. Therefore, when the petitioner has the remedy to ask for a reference to be made under S. 57 in spite of order having been passed by the first respondent, and since he has already filed a writ petition in this Court to quash the orders, it is now for him to make an application to first respondent to make a reference under S. 57 of the Act.
11. Regarding the nature of the document, in matters of this nature, it is the document which will have to be looked into as pointed out in W. P. No. 3600 of 1979, P. Kulasekara Naidu v. Board of Revenue (Land Revenue by its Member), Madras - 5, and therefore, the Revenue Authority should invariably refer to the decisions rendered by this Court in the earlier references made by it and disclose how the recitals tally with documents already interpreted by this Court so that it may absolve the need for making further references. It will also assist the affected party, to realise that the conclusion arrived at that no substantial question of law is involved, is based on decision of this court and therefrom the affected party may not be driven to the need of the further litigating the matter.
12. Instead, the authority had merely looked into the document and the ground stated in paragraph 4 in the impugned order itself shows that there is need for proper interpretation of the document, thus involving a substantial question of law.
13. Therefore, the writ petition is allowed resulting in the setting aside the impugned orders of the first respondent and it is for the petitioner to file the necessary application for a reference to be made and on receipt of such application the first respondent is to refer the matter under S. 57
(1) of the Act to this Court. No costs.