(Many people have a confusion over why do officials ask for the left thumb impression(LTI) in the case of males and the right thumb (RTI) impression in the case of female while offering consent upon the matter written upon the paper. This article clarifies on law and practice on this topic.)
The purpose behind getting the documents signed is to have a record of one’s consent upon the matter written upon the paper. As far as procedure for offering consent, there is no distinction under law between a literate and illiterate person. Therefore, the requirements of a proper and valid execution of a document are same for both of them. Since illiterates, blinds, and other disabled persons cannot put their signature they express their consent by placing thumb impression upon the document for various purposes like execution of loan documents, affidavits, declarations, making a will, opening bank account, withdrawing money from their account, etc.
LTI or RTI which is correct?
Many people have a confusion over why do officials ask for the left thumb impression(LTI) in the case of males and the right thumb (RTI) impression in the case of female for authorization. Legally speaking, there is no enactment with regard to usage of LTI or RTI by a person. However, we generally see that use of LTI to represent the thumb mark of a man and the use of RTI to represent thumb mark of a woman. Actually, these are not Rules. They are only followed as convention and custom. An established custom becomes part of the system and gets the recognition of the law of procedure.
“In terms of the General Caluses Act, (section 3) the term “Sign” with its grammatical variations and congnate expressions, shall, with reference to a person who is unable to write his name, include “mark” with its grammatical variations and congnate expressions.
What happens to a person who has lost both his hands:
The Supreme Court has held in AIR 1950 – Supreme Court, 265 that there must be physical contact between the person who is to sign and the signature or the mark put on the document. Therefore, in the case of the person who has lost both his hands, the signature can be by means of a mark. This mark can be placed by the person in any manner. It could be the toe impression as suggested. It can be means of mark which anybody can put on behalf of the person who has to sign, the mark being put by an instrument which has had a physical contact with the person who has to sign”.
Procedure adapted by Banks:
Wherever thumb or toe impression of the illiterate/blind/sick/old/incapacitated account holder is obtained, it should be identified by two witnesses known to the bank, one of whom should be a responsible bank official and the other witness should be known to the bank. It is also important to have a certificate from the identifier of the thumb impression as a part of the document that the contents were read and explained to the person putting the thumb impression in his language. This is in order to avoid any dispute to the awareness of the contents of the documents. Wherever the drawer is hospitalized and incapable of signing he may have his mark or his thumb impression attested by medical attendant along with one witness and he should also certify that the drawer was fully conscious at the time of marking the cheque.