& Ors. Vs. District Collector & Ors.  INSC 1338 (31 July 2009)
SUPREME COURT OF INDIA CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION CIVIL APPEAL NO. 4968 OF
2009 [Arising out of SLP (C) No. 6591 of 2007] C.J. Paul & Ors.
...Appellants Versus District Collector & Ors. ...Respondents
SINHA, J :
Interpretation and/ or application of the provisions of the Indian
Stamp Act, 1899 (for short "the Act") as amended by the State of
Tamil Nadu is in question herein.
out of the following factual matrix:
herein purchased some properties situate in Devala Village, Gudalur Taluk,
Nilgiris in the State of Tamil Nadu by a registered deed of sale dated
1.02.1990. Some lands are situated in the 2 State of Kerala also. The details
of the lands purchased by them in the State of Tamil Nadu are as under:
of the purchaser Survey No. Extent Doc. No.
Paul, Malapuram 146, 147/2,2,3 44.00 382/90 - Acres 2.2.90
Jose, Malapuram -do- 44.01 381/90 - Acres 2.2.90
Mary, Malapuram -do- 44.00 383/90 - Acres 2.2.90
Mathews, -do- 44.00 384/90 - Malapuram Acres 2.2.90
The Sub - Registrar, Gudalur came to know of the execution of the
said deeds of sale on or about 30.03.1996. It initiated a proceeding purported
to be under Section 47A (1) of the Act and Section 19B thereof. The proceedings
were initiated for collection of deficit stamp duty on or about 5.05.1998 by
issuing a letter to the then Collector under the Act. However, notice in Form I
was sent on 7.06.1998.
Appellants filed a writ petition questioning the legality of said
notice. The said writ petition was dismissed by a learned Single Judge,
From the facts and circumstances of the case, it is clear that all the
transactions appear to be not 3 bonafide and many questions in reference to the
nature and purport of these transactions remain unanswered like for instance.
Why when the family members get a sale deed in respect of about 176 acres in
Tamil Nadu they should go to Kerala to combine with a sale of 16 cents, as to
why the vendor father Thomas assignee of these lands should purchase 16 cents
on 04.09.1990 so as to sell the lands in Tamil Nadu. After lands having vested
as per Section 3 of the Gudalur Janmam Estates (Abolition and Conversion into
Ryotwari) Act (XXIV of 1969) Jenmis are entitled only ryotwari patta if they
had been cultivating on the appointed day i.e. on 01.06.1969, and for the
tenants under Jenmis if they had been personally cultivating. In this case one
Mathew Kutty is said to have purchased in the year 1967 and in turn sold to
Father Thomas. All these prima facie appears are made with ulterior purpose.
Learned counsel for the petitioners referred District Collector (1992) 2 Law
Weekly 231, wherein a learned Judge of this Court has taken the view that
reference under Section 47-A(1) of the Act should be immediately after
completion of the registration or sooner the registration is completed and at
any rate, within three weeks from the date of completion of registration of the
document. The said decision is of no assistance to the petitioner.
case, the petitioners were called upon to pay the difference of duty
immediately after receipt of document in their office and a reference notice
was issued to the petitioners which are impugned in these writ petitions in the
year 1998 itself and after enquiry, the Deputy Collector has passed an order
determining the market value in November, 2000.
question of limitation arises in these matters."
Writ appeals were preferred there against and a Division Bench of
the High court, by reason of the impugned order, dismissed the said appeals,
It is not in dispute that the properties covered under the documents lie within
the State of Tamil Nadu. But the documents were registered at Kalpetta, Kerala
State. As per Section 19-B(1) of the Act, unless such instrument is received in
the State of Tamil Nadu, no action can be taken for undervaluation. The learned
Single Judge, by relying on the said provision and after noting that those
documents registered in February, 1990, were received by the Office of the Sub
Registrar, Gudalur only on 30.03.1996 and the proceedings were initiated under
Section 19-B of the Act and further proceedings for reference were made on
05.05.1998, has arrived at a conclusion that the action taken by the authority
is not barred by limitation. On going through the relevant provision,
particularly, Section 19- B(1) of the Act and of the factual information that
those documents were registered at Kerala in February 1990, were received by
the Office of the Sub Registrar, Gudalur only on 30.03.1996, we are in entire
agreement with the conclusion arrived at by the learned single judge. Accordingly,
finding no merits, we dismiss all the writ appeals. No costs."
Mr. K. Rajeev, learned counsel appearing on behalf of the
appellants would contend that a proceeding under Section 47A of the Act could
be initiated only within a period of two years from the date of 5 registration
and as the same has been initiated after more than eight years, the same was
barred by limitation.
It was furthermore contended that the High Court committed a
serious error insofar as it failed to take into consideration that the
amendments to the Act subsequent to the execution of the deeds of sale are not
attracted to the facts of the present case.
Mr. R. Sundaravaradan, learned senior counsel appearing on behalf
of the respondents, on the other hand, would contend that Section 19B of the
Act being a special provision, the period of limitation would start from the
date of knowledge of the authorities under the Act and not from the date of
registration of the documents. In any event, the proviso appended to Section
19B(4) of the Act having provided for four years' limitation, the impugned
judgment cannot be faulted.
The Act was enacted to consolidate and amend the law relating to
stamps. Stamp duty is payable on different types of instruments as prescribed
by the State.
19B of the Act was inserted by Tamil Nadu Act 43 of 1992. It reads as under:
Payment of duty on copies, counter parts or duplicates when that duty has not
been paid on the principal or original instrument 6 (1) Where any instrument is
registered in any part of India other than the State of Tamil Nadu and such
instrument relates, wholly or partly to any property situate in the State of
Tamil Nadu, the copy of such instrument shall, when received in the State of
Tamil Nadu under the Registration Act, 1908 (Central Act XVI of 1908), be
liable to be charged with the difference of duty as on the original instrument.
difference of duty shall be calculated having regard to-- (a) the extent of
property situate in the State of Tamil Nadu; and (b) the proportionate
consideration or value or market value of such extent of property.
party liable to pay duty on the original instrument shall upon the receipt of
notice from the registering officer, pay the difference in duty within the time
allowed by such registering officer.
deficiency in duty paid is noticed from the copy of any instrument, the Collector
may suo motu or on a reference from any court or any registering officer,
require the production of the original instrument before him within the period
specified by him for the purpose of satisfying himself as to the adequacy of
the duty paid thereon, and the instrument so produced before the Collector,
shall be deemed to have been produced or come before him in the performance of
his functions and the provisions of section 47-A shall mutatis mutandis apply :
that no action under this sub- section shall be taken after a period of four
years from the date of receipt of the copy of such instrument in the State of
Tamil Nadu under the Registration Act, 1908 (Central Act XVI of 1908.
case the original instrument is not produced within the period specified by the
Collector, he may require the payment of deficit duty, if any, 7 together with
penalty under section 40, on the copy of the instrument, within such time as
may be prescribed."
We may notice that the proviso appended to Section 19B(4)
underwent an amendment insofar as in stead and place of "from the date of
registration of such instrument", the words "from the date of receipt
of the copy of such instrument in the State of Tamil Nadu under the Registration Act,
1908" were inserted. The said amendment came
into force with effect from 22.02.2000 in terms of Tamil Nadu Act 39 of 1999.
Section 47A of the Act was inserted in the State of Tamil Nadu by
Act 24 of 1967. Indisputably, the period of limitation was two years for
initiation of a proceedings thereunder. However, Section 47A of the Act also
underwent an amendment by Tamil Nadu Act 1 of 2000 which came into force with
effect from 6.03.2000 whereby and whereunder the period of limitation was
extended to five years.
The liability to pay stamp duty arises on presentation of a
document. Indisputably, the registration office of the State of Kerala had the
requisite jurisdiction to register the document in terms of the provisions of
The registration authorities of the State of Tamil Nadu came to
know of the registration of the said documents on 30.03.1996 when they 8 were
filed before some authorities. In terms of the provisions of the Act, the
Collector alone would initiate a proceeding for recovery of deficit stamp duty.
The proceeding was initiated on 5.05.1998 but the notices were issued only on
The period of limitation so far as Section 47A of the Act is
concerned is two years. The limitation of period of four years was provided for
in terms of the proviso appended to Section 19B(4) of the Act but the statute
which was applicable at the relevant point of time provided for invoking the
period of limitation was four years from the date of registration.
Sections 47A and 19B of the Act provide for penalty. A statute of
limitation conferring jurisdiction upon the statutory authorities to impose
penalty must, therefore, be construed strictly. A penal statute, as is well-
known, unless expressly provided, cannot be given a retrospective effect.
Ritesh Agarwal and Another v. Securities and Exchange Board of India (2008) 8
The amendments carried out by the State of Tamil Nadu in the Act
must, therefore, be held to have a prospective operation only. There cannot be
any doubt whatsoever that ordinarily in a case of this nature, the date of
knowledge would be the starting point for computing the period of limitation.
The authorities of the State of Tamil Nadu came to 9 know of the execution of
the deeds of sale dated 1.02.1990 only on 30.03.1996. They could have initiated
a proceeding, if any, within a period of two years from the said date as provided
for in Section 47A of the Act. However, in terms of Section 19B of the Act, the
period of limitation provided was four years from the date of registration and
not from the date of knowledge.
Submission of Mr. Sundaravaradan that the subsequent amendment
carried out by Act 1 of 2000 was only clarificatory in nature cannot be
accepted. The State advisedly used the words "four years" from the
date of registration. Only at a later stage, wisdom dawned on them that they
may not be able to find out the evasion of stamp duty within the aforementioned
period, amended the said provision so that the period of limitation may start
from the date of knowledge and not from the date of registration. The said
amendment is, thus, also not retrospective in nature.
It is now
well-settled that the Court cannot supply casus omissus.
Southern Petrochemical Industries Co. Ltd. v. Electricity Inspector & ETIO
and Others (2007) 5 SCC 447]
For the reasons aforementioned, the impugned judgment cannot be
sustained which is set aside accordingly. The appeal is allowed. No costs.
.....................................J. [S.B. Sinha]
.....................................J. [Deepak Verma]