Evasion of Stamp Duty; Offences under Penal Code are not attracted; Bombay HC [Read Judgment]

Evasion of Stamp Duty; Offences under Penal Code are not attracted; Bombay HC [Read Judgment]

Bombay High Court has recently held that in view of the specific provisions in the Stamp Act in regard to evading of stamp duty and punishment provided for the same, general provisions of Indian Penal Code may not apply.

The High Court was hearing a petition under S.482 CrPC, to quash the offenses punishable under Sections 119, 167, 418, 468,471 read with Section 34 of the Indian Penal Code, Section 13(1)(d) read with Section 13 (2) of Prevention of Corruption Act and Sections 59 and 62 of the Bombay Stamps Act, 1958.

The allegation against the Accused, was that the Accused  purchased the land Gat No.72 admeasuring 8 acres, 4 gunthas for consideration of Rs. three crores, sixty lacs. The sale deed in that regard was presented for registration on 2nd of December, 2008 before the Sub Registrar-II, Aurangabad. While presenting the deed of sale for its registration, the Accused i.e. the purchasers of the subject land did not disclose the true market value of the aforesaid land which, according to the prosecution, was Rs.4100/- per square meter as per the Ready Reckoner rates declared by the Government in the year 2008. It is alleged that the applicants showed the market value of the said property as Rs.3500/- per square meter which was the Ready Reckoner rate of the earlier year i.e. of 2007. According to the prosecution, as per Ready Reckoner rates of the year 2008, the market value of the subject property was Rs.seven crores, five lacs, twenty thousand and the stamp duty payable on the same was Rs.thirty five lacs, twenty six thousand. The Accussed  declared the market value of the subject property to the tune of Rs. four crores, fifty lacs on the strength of the Ready reckoner rates of 2007 and paid the stamp duty to the tune of Rs.22,50,000/- only. According to the prosecution, the Accussed thus paid less stamp duty to the extent of Rs.12,76,000/- and caused loss to the Government revenue to that extent.It is also the case of the prosecution that while registering the subject instrument, the Accused used false and forged documents as genuine one and conniving with the then in charge Assistant Sub Registrar, and the then Junior Clerk in the Office of the Sub Registrar-II, Aurangabad, cheated the Government by causing loss of Rs.12,76,000/- to the Government.

After hearing, the Court held that ‘it does not appear to us that any offence under Indian Penal Code, as alleged, would be attracted against the applicants. Even if it is assumed that, the in-put form is not correctly filled, that zone number is not mentioned and that incorrect market value is mentioned of the subject property, even then no offence can said to be made out by the Accused of using false document or of forgery’.

It is further held that even “if  it is accepted that, the market value of the subject property was shown less by the applicants and this aspect was overlooked by the Sub Registrar and his supporting staff, resulting in causing loss of revenue to Government, there exist the necessary provisions in the Stamp Act itself to take care of such situation / contingency”

Quashing the FIR against the Accused the Bench held that “After having considered the entire material on record it appears to us that, on the basis of such record at the most offences under section 59 and 62 may be attracted against the applicants, but, in no case any of the offence under Indian Penal Code, as alleged, can said to be made out against them. If at all any guilt seems to be attributable on part of the applicants, it is that of not showing the market value of the subject property determined by applying the ready recknoer rates published by the Government for the year 2008; but then the offence which may be made out would be under the penal provision of the Stamp Act i.e. under sections 59 and 62 of the said Act and not under the Indian Penal Code. In view of the specific provisions in the Stamp Act in regard to the alleged intention of evading stamp duty and punishment provided for the same, general provisions of Indian Penal Code may not apply”.

Read the Judgment here.