India: Allahabad High Court On Stamp Duty On Debt Assignment

Last Updated: 1 May 2019
Article by Aastha and Debopam Dutta


Assignment of debt is one of the most common forms of transactions in financial markets. It essentially entails transfer of a debt from a creditor (assignor) to a third-party (assignee).

One of the biggest challenges faced in debt assignment transactions in India is the significant stamp duty implication on the deed of assignment. Considering the volume of assignment transactions undertaken generally by banks and financial institutions or by asset reconstruction companies ("ARCs"), the stamp duty levied becomes a significant cost in such transactions.

The Constitution of India ("Constitution") confers upon the Parliament and each State Legislature the power to levy taxes and other duties. The subjects on which the Parliament or a State Legislature or both can legislate are specified in the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution. The Seventh Schedule is divided into 3 (three) lists:

  1. Union List;
  2. State List; and
  3. Concurrent List.

The Parliament has the exclusive power to legislate on the subjects enumerated in the Union List. The State List enumerates the subjects on which each State Legislature can legislate and such laws operate within the territory of each State. The Parliament, as well as the State Legislatures, have the power to legislate over the subjects listed in the Concurrent List.

The entry pertaining to levy of stamp duty in the Union List is as follows: -

"91. Rates of stamp duty in respect of bills of exchange, cheques, promissory notes, bills of lading, letters of credit, policies of insurance, transfer of shares, debentures, proxies and receipts."

The entry pertaining to levy of stamp duty in the State List is as follows: -

"63. Rates of stamp duty in respect of documents other than those specified in the provisions of List I with regard to rates of stamp duty."

The entry pertaining to levy of stamp duty in the Concurrent List is as follows: -

"44. Stamp duties other than duties or fees collected by means of judicial stamps, but not including rates of stamp duty." [emphasis supplied]

From the aforementioned entries, it is clear that the power to legislate on the rate of stamp duty chargeable on instruments of debt assignment (since it is not covered under Entry 91 of the Union List) is with the State Legislature. However, the power to determine whether stamp duty can be charged or not on a specific instrument is in the Concurrent List.

In this regard, it may be noted that pursuant to the Enforcement of Security Interest and Recovery of Debt Laws and Miscellaneous Provisions (Amendment) Act, 2016 ("Amendment Act"), the Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest Act, 2002 ("SARFAESI") and the Indian Stamp Act were amended to provide for an exemption from stamp duty on a deed of assignment in favour of an ARC.

As mentioned above, the power to legislate on whether stamp duty is payable or not on an instrument is in the Concurrent List. Therefore, the Parliament has the power to legislate on the aforesaid subject.

Pursuant to the Amendment Act, section 5(1A) was inserted in SARFAESI which provides that any agreement or document for transfer or assignment of rights or interest in financial assets under section 5(1) of SARFAESI in favour of an ARC is not liable to payment of stamp duty.

In several States, notifications have been issued for remission and/ or reduction of stamp duties on debt assignment transactions. For instance, in Rajasthan, the stamp duty chargeable on any agreement or other document executed for transfer or assignment of rights or interests in financial assets of banks or financial institutions under section 5 of SARFAESI in favour of ARCs1 has been remitted. Further, in Maharashtra, the stamp duty on instrument of securitization of loans or assignment of debt with underlying security has been reduced to 0.1% (zero point one percent) of the loan securitized or the debt assigned subject to a maximum of Rs. 1,00,000 (Rupees one lac)2.

Certain State Governments, such as those of Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu have reduced the stamp duty based on the nature of the financial asset being assigned. In Rajasthan, the stamp duty has been reduced for assignment of standard assets whilst in Tamil Nadu, the stamp duty has been reduced for assignment of non-performing assets and assignment in favour of ARCs.

This paper discusses a decision passed by the Allahabad High Court in the case of Kotak Mahindra Bank Limited v. State of UP & Ors.3 ("Kotak case"), where it was held that an instrument of assignment is chargeable with stamp duty under Article 62(c) (Transfer) of Schedule 1B of the Indian Stamp Act, as applicable in Uttar Pradesh ("UP Stamp Act"), as opposed to Article 23 (Conveyance) of Schedule 1B of the UP Stamp Act.

The stamp duty payable in various States under Article 23 or the relevant provision for conveyance is on an ad valorem basis whereas the stamp payable under Article 62(c) or relevant provision for transfer of interest secured, inter alia, by bond or mortgage deed, is a nominal amount. For instance, in Uttar Pradesh, the stamp duty payable under Article 62(c) is Rs. 100 (Rupees one hundred).

Decision in the Kotak case

In the Kotak case, Kotak Mahindra Bank Limited ("Kotak") had purchased and acquired certain loans from State Bank of India ("Assignor") along with the underlying securities.

The question for consideration before the full bench of the Allahabad High Court was whether the deed executed by the applicant with the underlying securities would be chargeable with duty under Article 62(c) or Article 23 of Schedule 1B of the UP Stamp Act.

The court observed that in order to determine whether an instrument is sufficiently stamped, one must look at the instrument in its entirety to find out the true character and the dominant purpose of the instrument. In this case it was observed that the dominant purpose of the deed of assignment entered into between Kotak and the Assignor ("Instrument"), was to transfer/ assign the debts along with the underlying securities, thereby, entitling Kotak to demand, receive and recover the debts in its own name and right.

Article 11 of Schedule 1B of the UP Stamp Act provides that an instrument of assignment can be charged to stamp duty either as a conveyance, a transfer or a transfer of lease. The court observed that since the Instrument was not a transfer of lease, it would either be a conveyance or a transfer.

The court referred to the definition of conveyance in the UP Stamp Act, which reads as follows:

"Conveyance". — "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, Schedule IA or Schedule IB] [as the case may be];" [emphasis supplied]

The court held that the term conveyance denotes an instrument in writing by which some title or interest is transferred from one person to other and that the use of the words "on sale" and "is transferred" denote that the document itself should create or vest a complete title in the subject matter of the transfer, in the vendee. In this case since under the Instrument, the rights of the Assignor to recover the debts secured by the underlying securities had been transferred to Kotak, it was held that the requirement of conveyance or sale cannot be said to be satisfied.

The court further observed that debt is purely an intangible property which has to be claimed or enforced by action and not by taking physical possession thereof, in contrast to immovable and movable property. Where a transaction does not affect the transfer of any immovable or movable property, Article 23 of Schedule 1B cannot have any applicability.

The court's view was that since debt along with underlying securities is an interest secured by bonds and/ or mortgages, transfer of such debt would be chargeable under Article 62(c).

The court further clarified that under the Instrument, merely the right under the contract to recover the debts had been transferred. Since the borrower(s) had never transferred the title in the immovable property given in security to the Assignor, the Assignor could merely transfer its rights i.e. mortgagee's rights in the property to recover the debts. It was further observed that the Assignor never had any title to the underlying securities and that it merely had the right to enforce the security interest upon default of the borrower(s) in repayment. The right transferred to Kotak was primarily the right to recover the debts, in accordance with law, by proceeding against the underlying security furnished by the bonds/ mortgage deed(s).

Therefore, the court held that the Instrument was chargeable with stamp duty under Article 62(c) of Schedule 1B of the UP Stamp Act.

Whilst coming to the conclusion that assignment of debt would not constitute a conveyance, the court referred to the definition of conveyance to state that debt is an intangible property which has to be claimed or enforced by action and not by taking physical possession thereof, in contrast to immovable and movable property.

In this regard, it may be noted that there are various judicial precedents4, where it has been held that an interest (including mortgage interest) in immovable property is itself immovable property.

However, even assuming assignment of debt with underlying securities over immovable property amounts to a conveyance, it may be pertinent to refer to the definition of conveyance in the UP Stamp Act which specifically excludes a conveyance which is otherwise provided for by the Schedule to the UP Stamp Act.

Article 62(c) of the UP Stamp Act reads as follows:

"62. Transfer (whether with or without consideration) –


(c) of any interest secured by a bond, mortgage- deed or policy of insurance--"

In view of the above, transfer of any interest secured by a mortgage deed, which is covered under Article 62(c), would be excluded from the meaning of conveyance and would be chargeable to stamp duty under Article 62.

In this regard it may be pertinent to refer to the definitions of 'bond' and 'mortgage deed' under the UP Stamp Act, which is as follows:

  • ""Bond" includes-

    1. any instrument whereby a person obliges himself to pay money to another, on condition that the obligation shall be void if a specified act is performed, or is not performed, as the case may be;
    2. any instrument attested by a witness and not payable to order or bearer, whereby a person obliges himself to pay money to another; and
  • any instrument so attested, whereby a person obliges himself to deliver grain or other agricultural produce to another"
  • ""Mortgage-deed". — "mortgage-deed" includes every instrument whereby, for the purpose of securing money advanced, or to be advanced, by way of loan, or an existing or future debt, or the performance of an engagement, one person transfers, or creates, to, or in favour of another, a right over or in respect of specified property;"

In view of the above, where a debt secured by a bond or a mortgage deed is assigned under a deed of assignment, the stamp duty payable on such deed of assignment will be under Article 62(c) of the UP Stamp Act or corresponding provisions of the Stamp Act of other States.

However, in cases of unsecured loans or loans secured by an equitable mortgage (where there is no mortgage deed), the deed of assignment would attract ad valorem stamp duty chargeable on conveyance, since the same will not get covered under Article 62(c) or similar provisions in other states.

The market practice until now has been to stamp the deed of assignment of debt under the relevant article for Conveyance in the applicable Stamp Act. In fact, in States such as Maharashtra, the State Government has issued notifications for reduction of stamp duty on a deed of assignment under the article for Conveyance.

The judgment passed by the Allahabad High Court in the Kotak case may prove to be a welcome step in reducing the incidence of stamp duty on debt assignment transactions. However, it would need to be seen whether in other States a similar view is taken by stamp duty authorities.


1. Notification No. F4(3)FD/Tax/2017-110 dated March 8, 2017 issued by Finance Department (Tax Division) Government Of Rajasthan.

2. Notification No.Mudrank-2002/875/C.R.173-M-1 dated May 6, 2002 issued by Revenue & Forests Department, Government of Maharashtra.

3. Reference Against MISC. Acts. No. 1 of 2016, order dated February 9, 2018.

4. Bank of Upper India Ltd. (in liquidation) v. Fanny Skinner and Ors., AIR 1929 All 161. See also Prahlad Dalsukhrai and Ors. v. Maganlal Muljibhai Tewar, AIR 1952 Bom 454 and Harihar Pandey v. Vindhayachal Rai and Ors., AIR 1949 Pat 170.

Originally published February 13, 2018.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
In association with
Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions