The agreement to sell with possession is an instrument which requires payment of the stamp duty applicable to a deed of conveyance.

Supreme Court in the case of Avinash Kumar Chauhan v. Vijay Krishna Mishra, (2009) 2 SCC 532, in which it has been held as follows:

“21. It is not in dispute that the possession of the property had been delivered in favour of the appellant. He has, thus, been exercising some right in or over the land in question. We are not concerned with the enforcement of the said agreement. Although the same was not registered, but registration of the document has nothing to do with the validity thereof as provided for under the provisions of the Registration Act, 1908.

22. We have noticed heretobefore that Section 33 of the Act casts a statutory obligation on all the authorities to impound a document. The court being an authority to receive a document in evidence is bound to give effect thereto. The unregistered deed of sale was an instrument which required payment of the stamp duty applicable to a deed of conveyance. Adequate stamp duty admittedly was not paid. The court, therefore, was empowered to pass an order in terms of Section 35 of the Act.” To put the record straight, the correctness of the impugned judgment (Laxminarayan & Ors. v. Omprakash & Ors., 2008 (2) MPLJ 416) came up for consideration before a Division Bench of the High Court itself in Writ Petition No. 6464 of 2008 (Man Singh (deceased) through Legal Representatives Smt. Sumranbai & Ors. v. Rameshwar) and same has been overruled by judgment dated January 22, 2010. The High Court observed as follows:

“8. A document would be admissible on basis of the recitals made in the document and not on basis of the pleadings raised by the parties. In the matter of Laxminarayan (supra), the learned Single Judge with due respect to his authority we don’t think that he did look into the legal position but it appears that he was simply swayed away by the argument that as the defendant was denying the delivery of possession, the endorsement/recital in the document lost all its effect and efficacy.

9. It would be trite to say that if in a document certain recitals are made then the Court would decide the admissibility of the document on the strength of such recitals and not otherwise. In a given case, if there is an absolute unregistered sale deed and the parties say that the same is not required to be registered then we don’t think that the Court would be entitled to admit the document because simply the parties say so. The jurisdiction of the Court flows from Sections 33, 35 and 38 of the Indian Stamp Act and the Court has to decide the question of admissibility. With all humility at our command we over-rule the judgment in the matter of Laxminarayan (supra).”

In  Omprakash Vs. Laxminarayan & Ors. [OCTOBER 7, 2013]

[Civil Appeal No.9032 of 2013 @Special Leave Petition (C) No. 20721 of 2008]

The plaintiffs filed a suit for specific performance of contract and their case is founded on the agreement to sell executed on 27th December, 2000. The agreement to sell acknowledges payment of the part of consideration money and further giving actual physical possession to the purchaser by the seller. Though the defendants dispute that, but in our opinion, for determination of the question of admissibility of a document, it is the recital therein which shall be decisive. Whether the possession in fact was given or not in terms of the agreement to sell is a question of fact which requires adjudication. But, at the time of considering the question of admissibility of document, it is the recital therein which shall govern the issue. It does not mean that the recital in the document shall be conclusive but for the purpose of admissibility it is the terms and conditions incorporated therein which shall hold the field. Having said that, we proceed to consider as to whether the document in question is “conveyance” within the meaning of Section 2(10) of the Act. Section 2(10) of the Act reads as follows:

2. Definitions. -In this Act, unless there is something repugnant in the subject or context, –

xxx xxx xxx

(10)”Conveyance” includes a conveyance on sale and every instrument by which property, whether movable or immovable, is transferred inter vivos and which is not otherwise specifically provided for by Schedule I;

xxx xxx xxx”

From a plain reading of the aforesaid provision, it is evident that an instrument by which movable or immovable property is transferred, comes within the expression “conveyance”. In the present case, an immovable property is transferred on payment of part of the consideration and handing over the possession of the property. It is relevant here to state that by the Indian Stamp (Madhya Pradesh Second Amendment) Act, 1990 (Act No.22 of 1990) few Articles including Article 23 of Schedule 1- A has been substituted and Explanation has been added to Article 23. The Explanation appended to Article 23 of Schedule 1-A of the Stamp Act as substituted by Section (6) of Act 22 of 1990 reads as follows:

“Explanation.-For the purpose of this article, where in the case of agreement to sell immovable property, the possession of any immovable property is transferred to the purchaser before execution or after execution of, such agreement without executing the conveyance in respect thereof then such agreement to sell shall be deemed to be a conveyance and stamp duty thereon shall be leviable accordingly:

Provided that, the provisions of Section 47-A shall apply mutatis mutandis to such agreement which is deemed to be a conveyance as aforesaid, as they apply to a conveyance under that section:

Provided further that where subsequently a conveyance is effected in pursuance of such agreement of sale the stamp duty, if any, already paid and recovered on the agreement of sale which is deemed to be a conveyance shall be adjusted towards the total duty leviable on the conveyance, subject to a minimum of Rs. 10.”

The aforesaid Explanation has come into effect with effect from 26th September, 1990. The Explanation, therefore, creates a legal fiction. The agreement to sell shall be deemed to be a conveyance and stamp duty is leviable on an instrument whereby possession has been transferred. Thus the agreement to sell in question is a conveyance within the meaning of Section 2(10) of the Act and is to be duly stamped. Section 35 of the Act makes instruments not duly stamped inadmissible in evidence, the relevant portion whereof reads as follows:

“35. Instruments not duly stamped inadmissible in evidence, etc.- 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 shall 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;

xxx xxx xxx.”

From a plain reading of the aforesaid provision, it is evident that an authority to receive evidence shall not admit any instrument unless it is duly stamped. An instrument not duly stamped shall 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 penalty. As we have observed earlier, the deed of agreement having been insufficiently stamped, the same was inadmissible in evidence. The court being an authority to receive a document in evidence to give effect thereto, the agreement to sell with possession is an instrument which requires payment of the stamp duty applicable to a deed of conveyance. Duty as required, has not been paid and, hence, the trial court rightly held the same to be inadmissible in evidence. The view which we have taken finds support from a decision of this Court in the case of Avinash Kumar Chauhan v. Vijay Krishna Mishra, (2009) 2 SCC 532