This article has been written by Rishabh Kiran Vakharia, pursuing a Diploma in Advanced Contract Drafting, Negotiation and Dispute Resolution from LawSikho.

has been published by Rachit Garg.


Stamp duty is a type of tax which is charged by the State government. The purpose of stamp duty is to give legal recognition to documents. An improperly stamped document is not recognised as valid in the eyes of law. This article presents an overview of the various types of stamps and the documents they have to be affixed upon.

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Brief about stamping of documents and instruments

Section 3 of the Indian Stamp Act lays down for payment of stamp duty upon instruments mentioned in the section. A few examples of these instruments of payment are bills of exchange, promissory notes, sales deeds, etc. Each state has their own stamp duty acts which follow the rules and regulations laid down by the main act. Stamp duty while giving legal recognition to a document also gives the holder of the document the ability to use the document as evidence in a court of law. This is the reason behind stamping a document. As per Section 2(11) a document will be said to be stamped properly after the proper amount for the said stamp has been paid and the document bears an Adhesive stamp and an Impressed Stamp. The Section also mentions that the said stamp should be affixed following the law laid down for the stamp.

It is important to note that there exists a difference between a document and an instrument. A document is defined under Section 3(11) of the General Clauses Act, 1977  as anything that is written down or depicted in writing by means of letters, figures or marks with the intention to record something. This essentially means that a document is only meant for recording a matter and does not actually transfer rights or create liability.

An instrument on the other hand creates rights and liabilities. An instrument is defined under Section 2(14) as any document that either creates or appears to create a transfer, limit, extend, extinguish, or record any right or liability. An Instrument by itself is a legal document which means it can be used as evidence in a court of law and is under obligation to be stamped unless expressly exempted. Documents on the other hand do not have to be stamped unless they want to be used as evidence in a court of law.

There also exists a penalty for not stamping a document that needs to be stamped. The Indian Stamp Act of 1899 was introduced as a means to generate revenue for the government, therefore, it is often referred to as a tax levied by the government. Therefore, the Act also lays down a penalty for the non-stamping of an instrument as it is a form of evading tax.

Types of stamps

Stamp duty and stamps are mostly used interchangeably as they mean the same thing. This is because stamps act as proof that the required stamp duty has been paid. Therefore stamps have even been classified into two main categories.

1.   Adhesive Stamps: they are the most common forms of stamps and are stuck to an instrument when the required stamp duty is paid. An example of the same is postal stamps which are stuck on letters. They act as a proof that the stamp duty for the postal series has been paid. Section 11 mentions all the instruments an adhesive stamp can be used upon. They are used on instruments chargeable, bills of exchange and promissory notes drawn in India, by an advocate or vakil on the roll of the High Court, notarial acts and when shares are transferred by endorsement in an incorporated company.

2.  Impressed Stamps: These are those stamps which an office affixes, impresses or engraves on a registered instrument. The impression rendered on documents by franking machines also fall under the category of impressed stamps. 

Documents on which different stamps are used

Non-judicial stamp

Contracts are a major part of society today. Many businesses and other entities such as the government enter into various types of contracts to conduct business. This is done to clearly outline the rights and liabilities of the parties involved in the agreement. It also acts as a document of proof in the event either of the parties defaults in their duty. It is essential for such documents to be registered with the government and this is what a non-judicial stamp is used for. A non-judicial stamp is a form of registration of the agreement and can only be used for non-judicial agreements which are transactional in nature such as a Gift Deed, Lease Deed, etc.

Judicial Stamps or Court fee stamps

A Court fee Stamp is one that is used to indicate that the payment of the court fee has been done. Court fee is not only charged for admitting a case but also on each document executed by the parties. The deposition of each witness examined on behalf of the party is another factor taken into consideration while. Due to the amount of documents being executed as evidence and witnesses being examined and cross-examined, payment of court fee is done subsequently after the trial is over. It is then paid through a court fee stamp to eliminate paper transactions so the fee is paid to the appropriate authority. This is done through a judicial stamp, which is also known as a court fee stamp. Essentially the party has to pay the relevant court fee to a branch of Stock Holding Corporation of India to attain a judicial stamp which acts as a representation that the relevant court fee has been paid. 


Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, countries had to digitize many services to ensure public health and safety. Therefore,  many companies made their products and services accessible to their customers online. The Stock Holding Corporation of India Limited is the only authorized entity that deals with stamps in India and offers stamp services to the public. E-stamping is nothing but stamps which can be acquired through the internet at the comfort of one’s home. Once the payment for the respective stamp is made thought an online third party portal, an e-stamp certificate is generated which acts as proof of payment for the same.


When an individual or a corporate entity purchases an immovable property, proof of that purchase comes in the form of a Sales Deed. When this is done, it also has to be registered as mentioned earlier under Non-Judicial stamps. This registration is nothing but a form of tax collected by the government for the purchase of immovable property where the government will affix a stamp on the document after the appropriate fee is paid. Franking of document papers acts as a form of evidence that the stamp duty related to the documents involved in the purchase of the immovable property has been paid. 

Notary Stamps

When a court of law is entertaining a case, evidentiary documents and affidavits have to be executed in order to show proof by both sides of the party. An affidavit is a document that confirms that everything submitted in a document is true to the knowledge of the party submitting it. However, coercion may have taken place. For example, party A and party B are involved in a property dispute. Party B forced party A to submit a document that would completely defeat the case of party A or to submit a fake document. A notary stamp is a type of stamp that acts as a confirmation that the document submitted by the party is not done due to force and is original and not fabricated. This is because the notary authority is one which is appointed by the government and when a document is submitted to it, the authority cross-references the document with the existing records before giving it a notary stamp. When a document with a notary stamp is presented to a court by a party, the court will recognise the document as original and safe to execute since it has a notary stamp. 

In the case of Kashi Prasad Saksena vs State Government Of U.P., Lucknow certain documents were rejected by the court as they did not possess the notary stamps and it was the duty of the notary to make sure that the documents in question were stamped.

Revenue Stamp 

The government of any country generates revenue for maintenance of society through the levy of tax on income generated by residents of the country. A revenue stamp is a type of Adhesive stamp that is used for this purpose. If you make a payment of more than Rs. 5000/- to another person, you can demand a stamped receipt with a Re 1/- revenue stamp under Section 30. Further, Section 2(23) mandates the affixing of a stamp revenue on any receipt above Rs 5000. 

Hundi Paper

A Hundi paper was a type of revenue stamp used by the colonial British government. It resembled a negotiable instrument in the sense that it outlined the liability of one person who was in debt to another to make a payment to the person who he owed the money to. For example, A borrowed ₹1000/- from B. B then presented to A a Hundi paper which A signed outlining his liability that he owed B the amount he borrowed with interest if any. This is how a Hundi paper was used. However, these papers are not considered to be part of the formal legal system and therefore they have no legal status. They are not covered either under the Indian Stamp Act of 1899 or under the Negotiable Instruments Act 1881.

Government Receipts Accounting System

The administration cost of collection of taxable and non-tax receipts can be extremely high and time-consuming. To ease the process, the government has introduced the Government Receipt Accounting System or GRAS as a common collection portal. This portable facilitates the collection of these fees through e-challans generated by the government. After the payment is done, a stamp certificate is generated which will act as proof of payment.



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