1. The petitioner, Sri Kirti Ram Tewari, applied to be admitted and enrolled as an Advocate of this Court and prayed for exemption from payment of the stamp duty under Article 30, Schedule I, Stamp Act, 1899.
2. Being an Advocate of the Court of the Judicial Commissioner, Bilaspur, he fulfilled the necessary qualification under Rule 4, Himachal Pradesh Legal Practitioners Rules, 1952, and the application was granted by an order of this Court dated 2-6-1953. Under Rule 9 it was still incumbent upon the petitioner to pay stamp duty, if any, chargeable under the Legal Practitioners' Act, 1879, or the Stamp Law for the time being in force in Himachal Pradesh, within one month of the date of the order granting the application, or within such further time as may be extended by the Registrar, before the Registrar issued an Enrolment Certificate to him. This stamp duty, amounting to Rs. 300/-, has been paid by the petitioner under protest, hoping to get a refund if he is granted the exemption.
3. The petitioner relies upon the Exemption appended to Article 30, Schedule I, Stamp Act, 1899, as interpreted in--'In re Krishnaswamy', AIR 1942 Mad 455 (SB) (A). There is no doubt that the exemption is clear and under it the duty is not leviable from an Advocate, Vakil or Attorney when he has previously been enrolled in a High Court, which term includes the Court of a Judicial Commissioner under Rule 2(j) of the Himachal Pradesh Legal Practitioners Rules, 1952. That being so, the petitioner would be entitled to the benefit of the exemption since he is already enrolled as an Advocate of the Court of the Judicial Commissioner Bilaspur.
The aforesaid exemption does not however exist in the Indian Stamp (Himachal Pradesh Amendment) Act (IV of 1953), which came into force with effect from 1-4-1953, under Notification No. R. 1-31/52, dated 9-3-1953, published in Part III, Section 3 of the Gazette of India, dated 14-3-1953, issued by the Revenue Department of the State of Himachal Pradesh. The question therefore is: What is the Stamp Law for the time being in force in Himachal Pradesh within the intendment of Rule 9 of the said Rules applicable to the petitioner's case?
4. Now, the Certificate of enrolment being an instrument falling under Article 30 of Schedule I, it is compulsorily chargeable with stamp duty under Section 3 of the Act. And since 'chargeable' means, under Section 2(6) of the Act, chargeable when the instrument in question is executed, it is clear that the crucial date which determines the law in force is the date of the execution of the instrument.--'Narayanan Chetti v. Karuppathan', 3 Mad 251 (B); 'Reference under Section 46 of the Indian Stamp Act', 5 Mad 394 (PB) (C) and--'In the matter of the application of Devi Ditta Mal', 1885 Punj Re (Rev.) 7 (D). The certificate in the present case was signed by the Registrar on 2-6-1953, on which date the Indian Stamp (Himachal Pradesh Amendment) Act, 1953, was in force. Evidently, therefore, the petitioner is not entitled to the Exemption.
5. The learned counsel appearing on behalf of the petitioner put forward the hypothetical case of an Advocate who may have applied before an amendment in the Stamp Act to his detriment, but the preparation and execution of a certificate of enrolment in whose favour by the Registrar may have been delayed until after the amendment. He argued that in such a case for no fault of his own the petitioner may be penalised by the delayed execution of the instrument by the Registrar. He contended therefore that a Certificate of Enrolment under Article 30 should not be deemed to be executed on the date on which the Registrar signs it but on the date when the application for admission and enrolment is presented, or, in any case, on the date on which the application is granted by the Judicial Commissioner under Rule 9.
The question does not however arise for determination in the present case for even if the date of presentation of application be taken as the one for determining the law for the time being in force, the petitioner's case would still fall under the Indian Stamp (Himachal Pradesh Amendment) Act, 1953. The petitioner presented his application to the Reader of the Court of the Judicial Commissioner Bilaspur at Bilaspur on 13-3-1953. Under Rule 8 of the said Rules the application must be presented to the Registrar of this Court by the applicant in person or through an Advocate. The application was therefore not properly presented on 13-3-1953 and it was accordingly returned. It was properly presented under the said rule only on 28-4-1953 when it was presented to the Registrar of this Court through an Advocate. The Indian Stamp (Himachal Pradesh Amendment) Act, 1953, had, however, already come into force on 1-4-1953.
6. In view of the above observations I holdthat the petitioner's case is governed by the IndianStamp (Himachal Pradesh Amendment) Act, 1953.His prayer for exemption is therefore rejected.