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Report No. 67

Chapter 15

Adjudication as to Stamps-Sections 31-32

15.1. Introductory.-

The Act recognises that it is not always easy for the citizen to determine the precise category in which a particular instrument falls. To enable the citizen to seek official advice in the matter, it has considered it proper to make suitable provisions.

15.2. Section 31.-

The principal provision-section 31-enables a person to seek the determination of the Collector as to the proper stamp with which an instrument is chargeable. We need not go into its details, since there is no serious controversy on the section. There was, for some time, some uncertainty as to whether the Collector can impound an instrument under section 33 when it is produced before him under section 31. The Supreme Court1 has now held, that when an executed instrument is submitted to the Collector under section 31 for adjudication as to the proper duty payable on the instrument, the Collector becomes "functus officio" as soon as he determines the duty payable on the instrument, and has no authority to impound the instrument under section 33 if the duty so determined is not paid.

After careful consideration, we recommend that it should be accepted. The scheme of the section, including its provision for taking evidence, makes it desirable that the party presenting be heard. It is only fair that the party presenting be heard, so that the Collector may be able to decide with a full knowledge of the facts. The principal object of the law ought to be to encourage correct orders. Whether or not there is a lie, this would appear2 to be a wise course.

1. Government of Uttar Pradesh v. R.A. Khan, AIR 1961 SC 787: (1962) 1 SCR 97.

2. Suggestion of Incorporated Law Society, Calcutta, accepted.

15.3. In a Madras case,1 it was held that the Collector's determination (under section 31) as to stamp duty payable on an instrument would be final and conclusive only in cases where the Collector followed up his order under section 31 by a relative endorsement on the instrument itself under section 32 to the effect that proper duty had been fully paid, or in cases where lye had expressed the opinion that no duty was payable and made an endorsement to that effect on the instrument itself. Where, however, the Collector had not certified by endorsement on the instrument either in terms of section 32(1) or in terms of section 32(2), his adjudication as to stamp duty on the instrument brought before him under section 31 could not be a bar to an examination by the other Authorities competent under the Act of the question of proper stamp duty.

1. Chief Controlling Revenue Authority, Board of Revenue, Madras v. Dr. K. Manjunasha Rai, (1976) 2 MIJ 279.

15.4. Under section 32, the Collector may make any endorsement of stamp duty on an instrument brought before him under section 31. The general view is that an endorsement made on an instrument by the Collector under section 32 is final, and cannot be questioned by a civil court-even if it was erroneous or was made out of time.1

1. (a) Murgayya v. Bajgopal, AIR 1942 Mad 381;

(b) Parasrain Hirji (Firm) v. Parasram (Firm), AIR 1936 Sind 211;

(c) Tukaram v. Sonaji, 10 Ind Cas 702.

15.5. Suggestion for amendment accepted.-

We have received a suggestion1 that the Collector should specify the article of the Schedule under which he calculates the duty, it having been said that this will facilitate registration of the document. We accept the suggestion. Though the Collector's decision will not be binding as to the nature of the instrument on the registering authority, it will be convenient if it indicates what the Collector decides.

1. Suggestion of the Incorporated Law Society of Calcutta (in reply to our Questionnaire).

Indian Stamp Act, 1899 Back

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