Jupudi Kesava Rao Vs. Pulavarthi
Venkata Subbarao & Ors  INSC 38 (29 January 1971)
CITATION: 1971 AIR 1070 1971 SCR (3) 590 1971
SCC (1) 545
Stamp Act (2 of 1899)-Section 35,
36-Evidence-Reception of secondary evidence of document insufficiently stamped"Instrument"
in ss. 35 and 36, if includes copy of document.
On the question whether reception of
secondary evidence of a written agreement to grant a lease, insufficiently
stamped, is barred by the provisions of sections 35 and 36 of the Stamp Act,
HELD :The first limb of Section 35 clearly
shuts out from evidence any instrument chargeable with duty unless it is duly
stamped. The second limit of the section which relates to acting upon the
instrument will obviously shut out any secondary evidence of such instrument,
for, allowing such evidence to be let in when the original admittedly
chargeable with duty was not stamped or insufficiently stamped, would have the
effect of the document being "acted upon" by the person having by law
or authority to receive evidence. Proviso (a) is applicable only when the
original instrument is actually before the court of law and the deficiency in
stamp with penalty is paid by the party seeking to rely upon the document.
Clearly, secondary evidence either by way of oral evidence of the contents of
the unstamped document or the copy of it covered by section 63 of the Indian
Evidence Act would not fulfill the requirements of the proviso which enjoins
upon the authority to receive nothing in evidence except the instrument itself.
There is no scope for inclusion of a copy of
a document as an instrument for the purpose of the Stamp Act. [596 D] If
Section 35 only deals with original instruments and not copies, section 36
cannot he so interpreted so as to allow secondary evidence of an instrument to
have its benefit.
The words "an instrument" in
Section 36 must have the same meaning as in Section 35. The legislature only
relented from the strict provisions of Section 35 in cases where the original
instrument was admitted in evidence without objection at the initial stage of a
suit or proceeding. [596 H] State of Bihar v. Karam Chand Thapar & Bros.
Ltd.  1 S.C.R. 827 Raja of Bohbili v. Inuganti China Sitaramaswami Garu,
23 Madras 49., Thai] i Beehi v. Tirumalappa Pillai, 30 Madras 336 at 337 and
Chidambaram v. Mayyappan, A.I.R. 1946 Madras 298, referred to.
Observations in Maung Po Htoo and three v. Ma
Ma Gyi and one, I.L.R. 4 Rangoon 363 and Satyavati v. Pallayya, A.I.R. 1937
Madras 431 at 432, disapproved.
Ponnuswami v. Kailasam, A.T.R. 1947 Madras
422, and Alimana Sahiba v. Subbarayudu, A.T.R. 1932 Madras 693, explained.
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION: Civil Appeals
Nos. 2537 of 1966.
591 Appeals by special leave from the judgment
and decree dated September 22, 1966 of the Andhra Pradesh High Court in Second
Appeals Nos. 875 of 1961, 488 and 516 of 1962.
A. K. Sen, A. V. Rangam and T. Raman, for the
appellant (in all the appeals):
B. V. Subramanyam and B. Parthasarathy, for
respondents 1 and 2 (in all the appeals).
The Judgment of the Court was delivered by
Mitter, J. The main question in these three appeals is, whether reception of
secondary evidence of a written agreement to rant a lease is barred by the
provisions of ss. 35 and 36 of the Indian Stamp Act.
The relevant facts are as follows. There is a
rice mill in Bhimiavaram, West Godavari District, which was formerly owned by
the appellant along with respondents 3, 4 and 5.
The mill was built on a site with an area of
Ac. 1-75 by one K. N. Raju who had obtained a lease thereof from the guardian
of respondents 1 and 2. It was executed on 21st December 1941 and was to expire
on 17th July 1956. The appellant and respondents 3, 4 and 5 were successors-ininterest
of the said leasehold rights. Respondents I and 2 served notice of ejectment on
the lessees to quit the site and deliver possession on the expiry of the said
According to the lessees there were
negotiations for a new lease. Respondents I and 2 demanded enhanced rent and an
agreement was ultimately arrived at on January 6, 1957 between the appellant
and respondent No. 5 for themselves and on behalf of respondents 3 and 4 on the
one hand and respondents I and 2 on the other for grant of a new lease for a
period of thirty years commencing on January 1, 1957.
The rent was fixed at Rs. 5401per annum
payable every two months. There was an option given to the lessors to purchase
the rice mill It a price to be fixed by the President of the Rice Mills'
Association but in case the said option was not exercised, the lessees were
entitled to remove the structures of the mill. The lessees were to continue in
possession and a deed of lease was to be executed and registered within a short
time. The agreement was written on two stamp papers of Rs. 0-12-0 each and
signed by the appellant and the 5th respondent on the one hand and respondent
No. I on his own behalf and on behalf of respondent No. 2. The document was
delivered to the respondent No. I after execution.
The appellant's further case is that
thereafter he effected considerable improvements to the mill costing about Rs. 30,000,/592
and purchased the shares of respondents 3 and 4 in the said mill but respondent
No. 5 who had originally joined the appellant in the suit for specific
performance of the said agreement sold his share in or about September 1965 to
respondent No. 6 herein.
On March 12, 1957 respondents I and 2
instituted a suit O.S. No. 81 of 1957 in the court of the District Munsif of
Bhimavaram against the appellant and respondents 3, 4 and 5 besides certain
other persons who were in occupation of the site, for recovery of possession
after removing the rice mill and structures standing thereon on the basis that
on the expiry of the old lease they had become entitled to possession.
Respondents I and 2 instituted another suit O.S. No. 100 of 1957 on 4th April,
1957 in the same court claiming damages from the appellant and respondent No. 5
for failure to deliver the site from 1st January, 1957 till date of delivery of
possession. In paragraph 6 of the plaint in this suit they expressly stated
that they would file a separate suit to recover the future mesne profits. The
total claim in this suit was computed at Rs. 4,700/being the amount due for 94
days from 1st January, 1957 to 4th April, 1957 at the rate of Rs. 501per day.
On April 5, 1958 the, appellant and respondent No. 5 instituted O.S. No. 92 of
1958 against respondents 1 to 4 praying for specific performance of the
agreement to lease mentioned above with a direction that the respondents 1 and
2 should execute the lease deed. By their written statement filed in O.S. No.
92 of 1958 respondents I and 2 denied the execution of the agreement to, lease
while in the two suits for recovery of possession and damages for illegal
occupation the appellant and respondent No. 5 pleaded the aforesaid agreement
for lease in defence and submitted that they were entitled to remain in
possession without any liability as to damages.
The three suits were tried together. As
respondents I and 2 did not produce the original agreement which according to
the appellant had remained with them, oral evidence was called by the appellant
to prove the execution of the said document. In his judgment the learned Munsif
"The plaintiffs have no right to lead
any oral evidence in respect of the suit agreement to lease dated 6-1-1057.
However, in order to appreciate the case put
forward by the plaintiffs in the absence of the agreement to lease oral
evidence has been recorded to determine whether the plaintiffs are entitled to
specific performance as the full facts must be before the court."
Examining the evidence the learned Munsif recorded his finding that :
593 "The plaintiffs on whom the burden
lies have not proved by evidence of P.Ws., I to 5 and 7 which is interested and
developed that the agreement to lease dated 6-1-1957 is true and valid."
O.S. No. 92 of 1958 was therefore dismissed. O.S. No. 81 of 1957 was decreed
against the appellant and others and they were directed to deliver vacant and
peaceful possession after removing the constructions and the mill thereon on or
before 9th July 1960. Suit No. 100 of 1957 was decreed against the appellant
and respondent No. 5 for Rs. 117-2-10.
The Subordinate Judge, Narsapur who heard the
appeals from the judgment and decrees of the learned Munsif set them aside. The
suit for specific performance of the contract of agreement to lease was decreed
and defendants 1 and 2 in that suit were directed to execute and register a
lease deed from 1st January, 1957. Ile accepted the oral evidence tendered on
behalf of the plaintiffs in that suit and recorded that the objection regarding
the admissibility of the oral evidence was raised only at the time of the arguments
on the ground that the agreement was written On a stamp paper of Rs. 1-8-0 when
it should have been written on a paper with a stamp of Rs. 60/-. According to
the learned Subordinate Judge the defendants had suppressed the agreement to
lease whereby the plaintiffs were deprived of the opportunity of making good
the deficiency of the stamp.
The learned appellate Judge held further that
the conditions mentioned in s. 27-A of the Specific Relief Act had been
fulfilled. He also found that the parties were contemplating the execution of a
deed of lease subsequent to the agreement and the mere fact that plaintiffs
continued their possession after the expiry of the period of the previous lease
did not take the case out of the purview of s. 27-A of the Specific Relief Act.
The High Court in Second Appeal went
elaborately into the question of the admissibility of the oral evidence
regarding the agreement to lease and held that.
"although the objection was raised by
defendants I and. 2 in the trial court at the time of the final arguments and
not before the oral evidence was received in regard to the admissibility of
oral evidence, even then since section 36 is not attracted to such an
objection, the oral evidence cannot be acted upon. It is inadmissible in
evidence and it cannot be received for any purpose." The appellant before
us challenges this finding of the High Court.
Learned counsel for the appellant Mr. Sen
argued that the admissibility of secondary evidence, be it oral or in writing,
must 594 be primarily decided in terms of the Indian Evidence Act.
Inasmuch as the original document which was
insufficiently stamped was suppressed by the defendants in the suit for
specific performance, secondary evidence of the contents of the document could
be led in terms of s. 65(a) of the Evidence Act. The Evidence Act imposed no
bar to the reception of oral evidence by way of secondary evidence to prove the
terms of the agreement to lease which was in writing and duly executed.
According to counsel the Stamp Act did not create a bar with respect to the
reception of secondary evidence to prove a document which was unstamped or
insufficiently stamped in any case where the party seeking to rely upon the
execution of the document and the terms thereof offered to pay the penalty in
terms of S. 35 of the Stamp Act. According to Mr. Sen s. 35 raised a bar only
in cases which were expressly excluded by proviso, (a) to s. 35 and in others
where the party seeking to rely on the document was not agreeable to pay the
deficiency in the stamp together with the penalty in terms of the said proviso.
Mr. Sen further argued that the whole object of s. 35 of the Stamp Act was that
the Government revenue due by way of stamp should be protected. But even then
s. 36 carved out an exception thereto and allowed the reception of an
insufficiently stamped instrument in evidence when it had been admitted without
objection at the initial stage. It was not reasonable, according to counsel to
limit the operation of s. 36 only to cases where the original instrument was
admitted in evidence without objection and logically oral evidence to prove the
contents of a document which was insufficiently stamped should be subject to
the same but no further infirmity and once such oral evidence was recorded
without objection of the party against whom it was tendered, particularly where
such party was responsible for the suppression or non-production of the
document, it should be acted upon by courts of law if the party tendering oral
evidence was agreeable to make up the deficiency in the stamp and pay the
penalty in terms of S. 3 5.
We find ourselves unable to accept the
submissions made on behalf of the appellant. The Indian Evidence Act which was
enacted in 1872 consolidates, defines and amends the law of evidence. By
various Chapters it deals with matters as to how facts are to be proved and
which facts need not be proved. S. 59 of the Act lays down that, all facts
except the contents of documents may be proved by oral evidence.
Documentary evidence is dealt with in Chapter
V and S. 61 provides that the contents of the document may be proved either by
primary evidence or secondary evidence. Under s.62 primary evidence means the
document itself produced for inspection of the court. S. 63 shows the different
kinds of secondary evidence admissible with regard to documents. It includes
several kinds of copies as specified in sub-cls.595 (1)to (3) of the section,
counterparts of documents as against the parties who did not execute them in
terms of cl.
(4) and oral accounts of the contents of a
document given by some person who has himself seen it in terms of cl. (5).
Under s. 64 documents must be proved by
primary evidence except in cases mentioned thereafter. Section 65 allows
secondary evidence to be given of the existence, condition or contents of a
document in circumstances specified in cls.
(a) to (g) thereof. Under s. 91 when the
relevant portion of a contract or of a grant or of any other disposition of
property has been reduced to the form of a document, no evidence shall be given
in proof of the terms except the document itself or secondary evidence of its
contents in cases in which secondary evidence is admissible under the
provisions hereinbefore contained.
As the first court of appeal recorded the
finding that it was the defendants who were responsible for suppression of the
original agreement to lease, a finding which was accepted by the High Court, it
must be held that no objection to the reception of secondary evidence by way of
oral evidence can be raised under the provisions of the Indian Evidence Act.
The Indian Evidence Act however does not
purport to deal with the admissibility of documents in evidence which require
to be stamped under the provisions of the Indian Stamp Act. The Stamp Act which
is now in force is an Act of 1899 but it had a fore-runner in a statute of 1
Chapter IV of the Stamp Act deals with
instruments not duly stamped. Section 33(1) of this Act provides that :
"Every person having by law or consent
of parties authority to receive evidence, and every person in charge of a
public office, except and officer of police, before whom any instrument,
chargeable, in his opinion, with duty, is produced or comes in the performance
of his functions, shall, if it appears to him that such instrument is not duly
stamped, impound the same." The relevant portion of s. 35 is as below:-"No
instrument chargeable with duty shall be admitted in evidence for any purpose
by any person having by law or consent of parties authority to receive
evidence, or shall be acted upon, registered or authenticated by any such
person or by any public officer, unless such instrument is duly stamped
Provided that(a) any such instrument not being an instrument chargeable with a
duty not exceeding ten paise only, or 596 a bill of exchange or promissory
note, shall, subject to all just exceptions, be admitted in evidence on payment
of the duty with which the same is chargeable, or, in the case of an
instrument, insufficiently stamped, of the amount required to make up such
duty, together with a penalty of five rupees, or, when ten times the amount of
the proper duty or deficient portion thereof exceeds five rupees, of a sum
equal to ten times such duty or portion.
Section 36 lays down that:
"Where an instrument has been admitted
in evidence, such admission shall not, except as provided in section 61, be
called in question at any stage of the same suit or proceeding on the around
that the instrument has not been duly stamped." The first limb of s. 35
clearly shuts out from evidence any instrument chargeable with duty unless it
is duly stamped.
The second limb of it which relates to acting
upon the instrument will obviously shut out any secondary evidence of such
instrument, for allowing such evidence to be let in when the original
admittedly chargeable with duty was not stamped or insufficiently stamped.
would be tantamount to the document being acted upon by the person having by
law or authority to receive evidence. Proviso (a) is only applicable when the
original instrument is actually before the court of law and the deficiency in
stamp with penalty is paid by the party seeking to rely upon the document.
Clearly secondary evidence either by way of
oral evidence of the contents of the unstamped document or the copy of it
covered by s. 63 of the Indian Evidence Act would not fulfill the requirements
of the proviso which enjoins upon the authority to receive nothing in evidence
except the instrument itself. S. 35 is not concerned with any copy of an
instrument and a party can only be allowed to rely on a document which is. an
instrument for the purpose of s. 35.
'Instrument' is defined in s. 2(14) as
including every document by which any right or liability is, or purports to be
created, transferred, limited, extended, extinguished or recorded. There is no
scope for inclusion of a copy of a document as an instrument for the purpose of
the Stamp Act.
If s. 35 only deals with original instruments
and not copies S. 36 cannot be so interpreted as to allow secondary evidence of
an instrument to have its benefit. The words "an instrument" in s. 36
must have the same meaning as that in S. 35. The legislature only relented from
the strict provisions of S. 35 597 in cases where the original instrument was
admitted in evidence without objection at the initial stage of a suit or
proceeding. In other words, although the objection is based on the
insufficiency of the stamp affixed to the document, a party who has a right to
object to the reception of it must do so when the document is first tendered.
Once the time for raising objection to the admission of the, documentary
evidence is passed, no objection based on the same ground can be raised at a
later stage. But this in no way extends the applicability of s. 36 to secondary
evidence adduced or sought to be adduced in proof of the contents of a document
which is unstamped or insufficiently stamped.
The above is our view on the, question of
admissibility of secondary evidence of a document which is unstamped or
insufficiently stamped, as if the matter were res Integra.
It may be noted however that the course of
decisions in India in the Indian High Courts, barring one or two exceptions,
have consistently taken the same view.
One of the earliest decisions is the judgment
of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in Raja of Bobbili v. Imuganti
China Sitaramaswami Garu(1). In this case, a suit was brought by the Raja of
Bobbili to obtain the proprietary possession of an estate once belonging to the
family. The original defendant was the widow of a son of the sister of the
plaintiff's paternal grandfather, a former Raja of Bobbili, by whom the estate,
the subject of dispute was granted by a deed of April 5, 1848 to a cousin who
had then married the then Raja's sister. The donee died in 1872, and his widow
thereupon restored the estate to the Raja on the footing that the grant had
been only for her husband's life. The Raja then granted the estate to another
cousin who died in the same year. This was the husband of the original
defendant. It was necessary for the Raja to show that the grant of 1848 was absolute
The deed of grant was however not forthcoming
having been lost. The question was whether the draft or a copy, of the
instrument tendered as secondary evidence of its contents when the original
instrument was shown to have been insufficiently stamped, could be, subjected
to the penalty prescribed by section 34 of the Indian Stamp Act, 1879 as a
preliminary to its being admissible in evidence. The respondent denied that
such a deed was ever executed and averred that the gift consisted in
transferring the estate to the donee's name in the register, upon the footing
that the estate was to revert to the donor, in the event of the donee leaving
no heir male of his body. At the trial the plaintiff offered in evidence what
purported to be an unauthenticated copy and the defendant objected to the
admission of the (1) 23 Madras 49.
598 same on the ground that it was the copy
of a document which was insufficiently stamped. The District Judge refused to
receive the document or allow it to be proved and dismissed the suit. The
appeal to the High Court of Madras was also unsuccessful, the learned Judges of
the High Court holding that:
"The copy should not be admitted on
payment of a penalty, for the provision of the Stamp Act regarding penalty (section
39 of Act I of 1879) prescribes that such payment shall be endorsed on the
document and presupposes that the document is forthcoming." Before the
Judicial Committee counsel for the appellant admitted that he was not in a
position to dispute that the original deed of gift dated 1848 had not been
sufficiently stamped in terms of the Madras Regulation XIII of 1816 and that he
would be unable to maintain his claim for the estate unless he was permitted to
prove the copy of the deed and use it as secondary evidence either on due
payment of a penalty in court, or upon its endorsement by the Collector.
He based his right to that remedy on the
provisions of the Stamp Act of 1879. The Judicial Committee held on the
construction of the said Act that the judgment appealed from was correct
"These clauses throughout deal with, and
exclusively refer to, the admission as evidence of original documents which, at
the time of their execution, were not stamped at all, or were insufficiently
stamped. It is only upon production of the original writ, that the Collector
has the power given him or the duty imposed upon him, of assessing and charging
tie penalty, a duty which he must, in that case, perform by writing an endorsement
upon the writ submitted to him, which then, and not till then, becomes
probative in law." Reference was made to, s. 33 of the Act of 1879 which
is in pari materia with S. 33 of the Act of 1899. S. 34 of the Act of 1879 was
on the same lines as the present S. 35. The Board further held that the effect
of granting the remedy which the appellant maintained he was entitled to would
be to add to the Act of 1879, a provision which it did not contain, and which
the Legislature ,of India, if the matter had been brought under their notice,
might ,possibly have declined to enact.
More than sixty years after the above
decision this Court observed that the law laid down there was well-settled and
that a copy of an instrument could not be validated : The State of Bihar v.
Karam Chand Thapar & Bros Ltd. (1). It is not necessary to (1)  1
599 examine the facts of that case except to
note that the contention put forward was whether an instrument i.e. an award
received in court which had been prepared in triplicate, the other two having
been sent to the parties, was an original instrument which could be used by the
payment of stamp duty under s. 35 of the Stamp Act and validated. This Court
held that although the document sent to the court was marked as a certified
copy, it was in reality an original instrument for the purpose of the Stamp
The above judgment shows that if the document
tendered in court was not an original instrument but a copy the decision would
have been otherwise. However we may point out that the passage which occurs at
page 835 of the report (reproduced hereinafter in part) as being quoted from
the decision of the Judicial Committee is not to be found in their Lordships'
judgment. The latter portion of the passage occurs in the judgment of the
Madras High Court in Thaji Beebi v. Tirumalappa Pillai(1), but this does not in
any way detract from the weight of the opinion expressed by a Bench of five
Judges of this Court.
In Thaji Beebi's case (supra) the plaintiff
sued upon a "cadjan" mortgage which was said to be, in possession of
the first defendant whose ancestors were alleged to have created the mortgage
in favour of the plaintiffs' ancestors. The first defendant denied tile
existence of any such deed. The plaintiff examined two witnesses to prove the
mortgage one of whom stated that he had attested the document which was
unstamped. Plaintiffs led oral evidence to prove the mortgage and also put in a
petition by the first defendant's ancestor in which the mortga-e was admitted.
No objection was taken by the defendants to the reception of the secondary
evidence. The trial court found the mortgage proved but dismissed the suit on
the defendants' plea that the plaintiffs' ancestors had sold away the lands. On
appeal the District Judge upheld the decision on the ground that the trial
court ought not to have received secondary evidence of the mortgage. The High
Court dismissed the Second Appeal on the same ground. The question as to
whether it was open to. the plaintiff to rely on the oral evidence of the
alleged execution of the instrument and the alleged passing of possession of
the property under that instrument in order to show that that possession
operated to create by prescription only the title of a mortgage in the
defendants, was answered in the negative by observing :
"To hold otherwise would be to give some
effect to the unstamped instrument inasmuch as it would necessary connect the
possession with the contents of the document relating thereto; and that would
be contrary to the express provisions of section 35 of the Stamp Act which (1)
30 Madras 336 at 337.
600 lays down that an instrument chargeable
with duty shall not only not be admitted in evidence for any purpose by any
person having by law or consent of parties authority to receive evidence, but
also that it shall not be "acted upon" by any such person unless duly
stamped." The decisions of different High Courts make it quite clear that
the cause of the non-production of the original instrument is immaterial i.e.
whether it was lost or whether it was destroyed or even if it was the
allegation of the party seeking to prove its contents by alleging that the
document was suppressed by his opponent.
In Chidambaram v. Meyyappan(1) the plaintiffs
produced an unstamped document as the basis of their claim. Before the trial
commenced a mob invaded the court and set fire to it with the result that
records of many cases including the record of the above case were destroyed.
When the trial commenced the plaintiff sought to put in a copy of the document
and it was objected to on the ground that the copy could not be stamped even on
payment of penalty. The Subordinate Judge without admitting the document but
leaving the question, of its admissibility open until he had heard the
arguments of counsel, marked it as an exhibit. In rejecting the plaintiffs
appeal the learned Judges of the Madras High Court referred to the decision of
the Privy Council in Raja of Bobbili's case ( 2 ) and observed that the
destruction by the mob's action put the plaintiffs-in no better position.
Numerous decisions on the point had been
referred to by the learned Judge hearing the Second Appeal in the High Court
but we do not think it necessary to take note of them in any detail. Mr. Sen
relied strongly on certain observations in a judgment of the Rangoon High Court
in Maung Po Htoo and three v. Ma Ma Gyi and one( 3 ) . This arose out of a suit
for administration of the estate of one Daw Thet San and for a declaration that
a deed of gift executed by him was void.
The District Court found that the deed of gift
was void as being a testamentary disposition and (,ranted a declaration to that
effect. In appeal to the High Court the decision that the deed of gift was void
was not contested and the only question for decision was whether the adoptions
mentioned therein were proved. The appellants wished to use a certain part of
the deed as evidence to prove that the plaintiff and one Tun Sein were not
adopted while the respondents claimed that it could not be admitted in evidence
for any purpose. The deed itself was not produced which admittedly had been in
possession of Po Htoo who put in a certified copy alleging that he had lost the
On a consideration of the entire evidence the
District Judge found (1) A.I.R. 1946 Madras 298 (2) 23 Madras 49. (3) I.L.R. 4 Rangoon
601 that the original deed of gift was
This decision was not questioned before the
High Court but the appellant claimed that it could not be admissible in
evidence and was riot to 'be considered for any purpose.
Referring to the decision of the Judicial
Committee and the passage which we have quoted already the Judges of the
Rangoon High Court remarked that their Lordships observation (quoted by us
earlier) that "Those clauses throughout deal with, and exclusively refer to,
the admission as evidence of original documents, which , at the time of their
execution, were not stamped at all, or were insufficiently stamped." did
not intend to go as far as their words suggested.
According to the Rangoon Judges:
". . . section 35 of the present Act,
read with the provisions of the Evidence Act, excludes both the original
instrument itself and secondary evidence of its contents.
Similarly, under section 36, when either the
original instrument itself or secondary evidence of its contents has in fact
been admitted, that admission may not be called in question in the same suit,
on the ground that the instrument was not duly stamped.
In this view, they held that the terms of the
deed of gift could be considered.
With all respect to the learned Judges it
appears to us that both the premises of the last sentence of the above
quotation and the conclusion based on the same are incorrect. Neither under the
decision of the Judicial Committee nor the express words of s. 34 of the Stamp
Act of 1879 mentioned in that judgment (present section 36) allow the leading
of secondary evidence of the contents of an insufficiently stamped document.
As we have expressed our view already s. 35
imposed a bar on the reception of any but the original instrument and forbade
the reception of secondary evidence. Section 36 only lifted that bar in the
case of an original unstamped or insufficiently stamped document to which no
exception as to admissibility was taken at the first stage. It did not create
any exemption in the case of secondary evidence which a copy would undoubtedly
be. In the case before the Judicial Committee the copy was one other than ,the
final draft of the original document which had been lost through no fault on
the part of the person intending to prove it and yet it was held that the Stamp
Act ruled out its admissibility in evidence.
For the same reason we must hold that the
dictum in Satyavati v. Pallayya(1) that (1) A.I.R. 1937 Madras 431 at 432.
602 "S. 35 will also apply when
secondary evidence of an instrument not duly stamped had been wrongly
admitted." is not good. law.
Learned counsel for the appellant also relied
on the decision in Ponnuswami v. Kailasam(1). In this case a suit as filed for
recovery of the loans which were evidenced as two documents described as hand
letters which were admittedly unstamped. Before the trial stamp duty and
penalty was levied by the court on the tooting that they were bonds. The
defendant admitted the execution of the two documents but pleaded that in substitution
of his liability under them he had executed a promissory note and had made
payments towards the same, leaving a balance of Rs. 40/only payable on the
loan. Neither party let in any evidence.
The defendant-raised the only contention that
the suit was not sustainable on the two documents because they are inadmissible
in evidence for any purpose. The learned Judge in revision took the view that
it was not necessary for him to decide as to the exact nature of the two
documents to determine whether they were admissible in evidence but he went on
to add :
"Assuming that these two documents
should not have legally admitted in evidence, nevertheless it is contended for
the petitioner......... that as the defendant had admitted the execution of the
documents and had only pleaded a substitution of liability by the execution of
another promissory note and a partial discharge towards it there was no
necessity for the plaintiff to adduce proof of his claim by seeking to get the
two documents admitted in evidence. In other words the plaintiff will be
entitled to a decree on the failure of the defendant to make out the Plea
set-up by him in defence." We do. not think this judgment helps the
appellant. If a suit is based on a document which is admittedly unstamped the insufficiency
of the stamp is cured by the payment of penalty. The learned Judge never mean
to lay down, as is contended for by Mr. Sen, that the defect of insufficiency
of stamp is cured by the admission of execution of the document. The learned
Judge of the Madras High Court relied on an earlier decision of that court in
Alimana Sahiba v.Subbarayudu (2)wherein a suit had been filed on a promissory
note which bore a stamp paper but the same was not cancelled. The defendant
admitted the execution of the promissory note sued on but pleaded discharge.
Subsequently at the stage of the argument the defendant raised a legal
objection (1) A.T.R. 1947 Madras 422.
(2) A.I.R. 1932 Madras 693.
603 to the maintainability of the suit on the
ground that the stamp affixed to the promissory note had not been cancelled as
required by s. 12 of the Stamp Act and contended that the promissory note
should accordingly be. treated as unstamped for any purpose. In Alimana
Sahiba's case (supra) the learned Judge stated in clear terms that "Under
the provisions of s. 12 (of the Stamp Act) therefore it must be taken that this
promissory note was not duly stamped and accordingly if any question arose as
to its admissibility in evidence the same may have to be held to be inadmissible."
The learned Judge however took the view that as facts admitted need not be
proved the circumstance that the promissory note was not admissible in evidence
is immaterial for the purpose of this case. No doubt the learned Judge added
(see at p. 696) "Now when once this document has been admitted in evidence
and marked as an exhibit' then having regard to the provisions of s. 36, Stamp
Act, its admissibility could not be reopened on the ground of the document not
having been duly stamped. That position being clear under the provisions of s.
36, Stamp Act, the whole discussion would thus seem to be entirely unnecessary
and for no purpose, so far as the facts of this case are concerned." It
was wholly unnecessary, as was pointed out by the learned Judge himself, to
consider the question of admissibility under s. 36 of the Act. His decision
really rested on the conclusion that a fact which is admitted did not require
The case is not an authority for the
proposition that secondary evidence of a document is to be treated on the same
footing as an unstamped or insufficiently stamped original document.
In the result the appeal is dismissed with
The respondents moved an application C.M.P.
No. 87 of 1971 under Order 47 Rule 3of the Rules of this Court for a direction
that a relief for future mesne profits from the date of the suit be added to
the decree. On the fact of this case we cannot allow the application. The
respondents in their own plaint had stated that they would file a suit for
future mesne profits and it was because of this that the courts below did not
grant any such relief.
R.K.P.S. Appeal dismissed.