whether the trial court which had admitted the agreements to sell in evidence could haveexercised its discretion in imposing penalty at the rate of 2 times of deficient amount of stamp duty or it was obligatory for the trial court to impose the penalty at the rate of 10 times.


Hon’ble Mr. Justice Ashok Bhushan 


Suit  for  specific  performance  of contract. – The Trial court passed an order ,  by which agreements to sell in question were admitted in evidence and marked for   the   plaintiffs   on payment   of   deficit   duty   and   penalty.   Deficit   duty   in both   the   suits   was   determined   as   Rs.12013/­   and Rs.20320/­   respectively   and   the   penalty   imposed   was double of the deficit duty in both the suits. – 

The High Court directed the courts   below   to   levy   the   penalty   at   10   times   of   the deficit duty as per judgment of Karnataka High Court in ILR   2013   KAR   2099. –

Apex court held that The   above   view   of   the   Karnataka   High   Court   that there   is   no   discretion   vested   with   the   authority impounding   the   document   in   the   matter   of   collecting duty under Section 33, is correct. The word used in the

said   proviso   is   ‘shall’.   Sections   33   and   34   clearly indicate that penalty imposed has to be 10 times.- but the Learned trial court while imposing penalty at the rate of two times has given following reason: “The plaintiffs  are stated to be agriculture and are residing at   Sherewad   village.   The   said   fact   is   not denied by the defendants therein. It appears that   the   agreements   were   prepared   by   local villagers   who   are   not   experienced   in   the documentation.   Looking   to   the   status   of   the plaintiffs,   their   standard   of   having qualification of the document writers. I am of the opinion that the ratio laid down by our Hon’ble High Court in ILR 2011 KAR 4719 can be

applied to the present facts and circumstances levying   10   times   penalty   in   respect   of   said

agreement   will   be   harsh   on   the   plaintiffs. Therefore   I   am   of   the   opinion   that   levying

double the amount of deficit duty as penalty will meet the ends of justice.”-Although the procedural part which provides   for   impounding   and   realisation   of   duty   and penalty does not give any discretion under Section 33 for imposing any lesser penalty than 10 times, however, when   provision   of   Section   38   is   read,   the   discretion given to Deputy Commissioner to refund the penalty is

akin to exercise of the jurisdiction under Section 39 where while determining the penalty he can impose the penalty lesser than 10 times. -asking the   appellant   to   deposit   10   times   of   penalty   and thereafter   to   invoke   the   jurisdiction   of   Deputy Collector under Section 38 to refund penalty shall be a proceeding again taking considerable time. In the facts of the present case, we are of the view that ends of justice be served in closing the matter by confirming the payment of deficit duty with the double penalty as imposed   by   the   trial   court   which   shall   obviate   the

proceeding   of   approaching   the   Deputy   Commissioner   for reduction   of   penalty   under   Section   38,   which   in   the facts of the present case and for the reasons noted by the   trial   court   was   a   relevant   consideration   for refund/reduction of the penalty.