Welcome to the official blog of the Law Offices of Kr. Vivek Tanwar Advocate and Associates, where we are dedicated to providing litigation support services for matters related to Stamped Lease Deeds and Arbitration Clauses. In today’s blog post, we aim to shed light on the prevailing issues surrounding Stamped Lease Deeds and Arbitration Clauses, the legal framework in place for their protection, and the steps we can take as a society to combat these acts. Join us as we explore this critical subject and empower you with the knowledge to protect your rights and safety.

In a recent landmark judgment, a three-bench panel of the Supreme Court, led by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde, alongside Justices BR Gavai and Surya Kant, deliberated on the pivotal issue of whether an arbitration clause in an insufficiently stamped agreement could be legally enforced. The case, titled M/s Dharmaratnakara Rai Bahadur Arcot Narainswamy Mudaliar Chattram & Other Charities & Ors. Versus M/s Bhaskar Raju & Brothers & Ors[1], has far-reaching implications for the legal landscape, particularly concerning the treatment of arbitration agreements in such situations.


The case revolved around an appeal challenging a judgment by the Karnataka High Court, which had appointed an arbitrator under section 11(6) of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996, to resolve disputes between the parties. The dispute originated from a lease deed executed on 31st May 1996, covering a 38-year development agreement for a piece of land owned by the appellant. Subsequently, on 12th March 1997, another lease deed with identical terms and conditions was executed. The appellant filed a suit in the City Civil Court, alleging that the respondents had failed to pay the full security deposit stipulated in the lease deeds. The Civil Court issued an interim order to maintain the status quo over the disputed property.

Surprisingly, after participating in the lawsuit for two years, the respondents invoked the arbitration clause in the lease deeds by sending a notice dated 6th September 2013 to the appellant. They then filed a petition under section 11(2) of the Arbitration Act for the appointment of an arbitrator in the Karnataka High Court, which the court approved.

Key Findings:

The appellant, dissatisfied with the Karnataka High Court’s decision, turned to the Supreme Court for redress. The Supreme Court’s judgment hinged on two primary issues. Firstly, it observed that the lease deeds in question were neither registered nor sufficiently stamped under the Karnataka Stamps Act, 1956. Additionally, the report from the Registrar (Judicial) of the Karnataka High Court highlighted that the 1997 document was a lease deed, not an agreement to lease. As a result, the respondents were directed to pay a substantial deficit stamp duty and penalty, totalling over one crore rupees.

Precedents and Legal Interpretation:

The Supreme Court relied on the precedent established in the case of MS Tea Estates Private Limited v Chandmari Tea Company Private Limited[2]. This decision underscores the significance of proper stamping in legal instruments. Section 35 of the Stamp Act, as interpreted by the court, dictates that a document, including an arbitration agreement, cannot be acted upon unless the requisite stamp duty and penalty are paid.

Supreme Court’s Verdict:

The Supreme Court, by quashing the Karnataka High Court’s order and setting aside the section 11 application by the respondents, emphasized that the lower court’s reliance on the 1997 lease deed was flawed. On both legal and equitable grounds, the respondents were deemed ineligible for any relief.

Reaffirmation and Ongoing Developments:

This judgment serves as a critical reaffirmation of the principle that an arbitration clause within a lease deed must be sufficiently stamped for it to be enforceable. However, a new twist emerged in the case of N.N. Global Mercantile Pvt. Ltd. v. Indo Unique Flame Ltd. in April 2023. In this instance, a five-judge bench, by a narrow 3:2 majority, ruled that unstamped arbitration agreements are not legally valid.

This ruling effectively overturned the previous notion that unstamped arbitration agreements could operate independently from the main contract. The legal significance of this matter prompted the Supreme Court to refer it to a seven-judge bench, with proceedings set to commence on October 11, 2023.


The Supreme Court’s judgment in the Dharmaratnakara Rai Bahadur Arcot Narainswamy Mudaliar Chattram & Other Charities case serves as a pivotal clarification of the legal requirements for stamped lease deeds containing arbitration clauses. It underscores the critical importance of proper stamping in legal documents and sets a strong precedent for the enforcement of arbitration agreements. As the legal landscape evolves, the forthcoming proceedings before the seven-judge bench promise to further shape the future of arbitration law in India.

We are a law firm in the name and style of Law Offices of Kr. Vivek Tanwar Advocate and Associates at Gurugram and Rewari. We are providing litigation support services for matters related to Stamped Lease Deeds and Arbitration Clauses.

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