ARTICLES OF AN ADVOCATE: Allowing the appeal, the Court HELD: 1.1. There is a difference between an agreement to sell and a sale. An agreement to sell is not a sale. An agreement to sell becomes a sale after both the parties signed the sale deed. What is relevant in fact is the actual valuation of the property at the time of the sale. The crucial expression used in Section 17 of the Stamp Act, 1899 is "at the time of execution". Therefore, stamp duty on a sale has to be assessed on the market value of the property at the time of execution of sale deed, and not at the time of the prior agreement to sell, nor at the time of filing of the suit. [Para 10] [115-E; 116-D, E] 1.2. The Stamp Act, 1899 is in the nature of a taxing statute, and it has to be construed strictly; and considerations of hardship or equity have no role to play in its construction. It is true that no one should suffer on account of the pendency of the matter in court but this consideration does not affect the principles of interpretation of a taxing statute. A taxing statute has to be construed as it is. The contingencies that the matter was under litigation and the value of the property by that time shot up cannot be taken into account for interpreting the provisions of a taxing statute. [Para 10 and 14] [116-E; 118-D, E] Sub Registrat, Kodad Town and Mandal v. Amaranaini China Venkat Rao and Ors., AIR (1998) Andhra Pradesh 252, disapproved. 1.3. Literal rule of interpretation applies to the taxing statute. Construing section 17 read with section 2(12) of the Stamp Act in this back-ground, there is no manner of doubt that the registering authority is under an obligation to ascertain the correct market value at that time of registration and should not go by the value mentioned in the instrument. It is true that as per Section 3, which is the charging section, the instrument is to be registered on the basis of the valuation disclosed therein. But Section 3 cannot be read in isolation and has to be read along with Section 17 of the Act. From a composite reading of Sections 3, 17 and 27, it becomes abundantly clear that the valuation given in an instrument is not conclusive. If any doubt arises in the mind of the registering authority that the instrument is under-valued then as per Section 47-A as inserted by Rajasthan Act 10 of 1982 in Rajasthan Stamp Law (Adaptation) Act, 1952, the instrument can be sent to the Collector for determination of the correct market value. Under Section 47-A read with Sections 3, 17 and 27, it becomes clear that the registering authority has to ascertain the correct valuation given in the instrument regarding market value of the property at the time of the sale. [Para 11, 12 and 13] [117-E, F, G, H; 118-A, B] A.V. Fernandez v. State of Kerala, AIR (1957) SC 657, relied on. 1.4. The view taken by the single Judge as well as by the Division Bench of the High Court cannot be sustained and the same is set aside. The Collector shall determine the valuation of the property mentioned in the instrument on the basis of its market value on the date when the document was tendered by the respondent for registration, and the respondent shall pay the stamp duty charges and surcharge, if any, as assessed by the Collector as per the provisions of the Act. [Para 16] [119-B, C] V. Madhukar, Sumit Ghosh and Aruneshwar Gupta for the Appellants. Dr. Manish Singhvi and P.V. Yogeswaran for the Respondents.