Lancelot Sanderson, C.J.
1. We think that this Rule should be made absolute.
2. The charge against the two petitioners was under Section 64(c) of the Indian Stamp Act (II of 1899), which says that 'Any person who, with intent to defraud the Government, does any other act calculated to deprive the Government of any duty or penalty under this Act shall be punishable with fine which may extend to five thousand rupees.'
3. Now, what happened in this case was that the petitioners alleged that they had lent money to one Lai Mohammad Barkundaz, and Lal Mohammad had signed an undertaking in one of the petitioners' books to this effect: 'I shall pay interest on this hathchitta up to date of realization at the rate of Rs. 3 per cent, per mensem.
(Sd). Sri Lai Mahamad.'
4. That document was stamped with one-anna stamp. When it was necessary for the petitioners in certain proceedings against Lai Mohammad to put in this document, an objection was taken by the officer of the Court that it was not duly stamped; and the result was that the petitioners had to pay the proper amount of stamp and penalty which amounted to Rs. 5. Then the Collector, when he had this matter brought to his attention,, directed that the petitioners should be prosecuted under the section which I have read, and summons was issued by the Magistrate to the petitioners in that respect.
5. A Rule has been obtained in this Court by the petitioners on the grounds, first, that on the facts and circumstances of the case no offence under Section 64(c) had been disclosed and secondly, that there being nothing to show that there was an intention of evading the payment of the proper duty, the Collector ought not to have directed a prosecution in the case.
6. The act relied on by Mr. Gregory, who appears on behalf of the Crown, is this: He says that the petitioners who were people carrying on money-lending business must have known, when they put the stamp upon the document, that it was not a stamp of sufficient value: and, therefore, they must have intended to evade payment of the proper duty.
7. The first point that was taken by Mr. Manmotha Nath Mukherjee was that it was not the duty of the petitioners to put on the stamp at all, and that it was the duty of the debtor to put on the stamp. But inasmuch as it was an agreement, and the stamp required was that applicable to an agreement, there is no provision in the Stamp Act, as far as I am able to find, which provides that in such a case it is the duty of the debtor to put on the stamp and inasmuch as this acknowledgment was made in the books, of the petitioners themselves, I think it is fair to assume that in all probability they were the parties to put the stamp upon the document.
8. Then the learned Vakil for the petitioners takes a further point. He says that the mere fact of putting a stamp upon a document which is not of proper value, even though the party who puts that stamp knows that it is not of the proper value, is not an act which comes within Clause (c) of Section 64. I agree with him. Clause (c) comes after two other clauses; and the section must be read as a whole to understand the meaning of Clause (c). The section runs thus: 'Any person who, with intent to defraud the Government, (a) executes any instrument in which all the facts and circumstances required by Section 27 to be set forth in such instrument are not fully and truly set forth; or (b) being employed or concerned in or about the preparation of any instrument, neglects or omits fully and truly to set forth therein all such facts and circumstances; or (c) does any other act calculated to deprive the Government of any duty or penalty under this Act: shall be, etc, etc.' The learned Pleader's argument is that in construing Clause (c) it is right to say that 'any other act' must be taken to mean an act of a like nature to those which are specified in Clauses (a) and (b). I think that is the proper construction to put upon the section: and, if that be so, then the mere fact that a person puts a stamp on a document, which he knows is not of proper value, would not in my judgment come within Clause (c) of Section 64.
9. It is argued by the learned Counsel for the Crown that unless the construction, for which he contends, be put upon Clause (c) it would be a very serious thing for the Revenue Authorities, and they will have no means of punishing a man for wrongly stamping a document. But I do not think that weighs with us very much, because if one looks at Section 62(1), Paragraph (b), one finds that at all events a person, who signs a document which is chargeable with duty without the same being duly stamped, is liable to be prosecuted for an offence under that section; and the Revenue Authorities, if they think right, can proceed against a person who signs such a document without a proper stamp being put upon it. I am confirmed in the judgment at which I have arrived by the decision of the Madras High Court in the case of Queen-Empress v. Somasundaram Chetti 23 M. 155 : 1 Weir 907. It is true that the learned Judges there were not concerned with the particular section, but they were considering Section 67 which practically corresponds to Section 68 of Act II of 1899; and the reasoning which the learned Judges applied in that case is exactly the reasoning, which appeals to me in this case.
10. For these reasons, I think that the Rule should be made absolute.
11. I have come to the same conclusion. I think that the act charged is not an act which comes within Clause (c) of Section 64 of the Indian Stamp Act.