A Hundi is a negotiable instrument written in an oriental (vernacular) language. The term ‘Hundi’ includes all indigenous negotiable instruments whether they are in the form of notes or bills. But they are mostly of the nature of bills of exchange. They are virtually inland bills of exchange and recognized by custom and law in India. The term comes from the Sanskrit word Hund which means to collect. It means that Hundis were used as means of collection of debts. Hundis are very popular among the Indian merchants and indigenous bankers from ancient times.
The Negotiable Instruments act does not apply to Hundis. Hundis are governed by the custom and usages of the locality in which they are intended to be used. In case there is no customary rule known as to a certain point, the court can apply the rules of the Negotiable Instruments Act. It is also open to the parties to exclude expressively the applicability of any custom relating to Hundis by agreement and include the provision of the Negotiable Instrument Act.
A Hundi is a negotiable instrument by usage. It is often in the form of a bill of exchange drawn in any local language in accordance with the custom of the place. Some times it can also be in the form of a promissory note. A hundi is the oldest known instrument used for the purpose of transfer of money without its actual physical movement. The provisions of the Negotiable Instruments Act shall apply to hundis only when there is no customary rule known to the people.
Types of Hundis
There are a variety of hundis used in our country. Let us discuss some of the most common ones.
- Shah-jog Hundi: This is drawn by one merchant on another, asking the latter to pay the amount to a Shah. Shah is a respectable and responsible person, a man of worth and known in the bazaar. A shah-jog hundi passes from one hand to another till it reaches a Shah, who, after reasonable enquiries, presents it to the drawee for acceptance of the payment.
- Darshani Hundi: This is a hundi payable at sight. It must be presented for payment within a reasonable time after its receipt by the holder. Thus, it is similar to a demand bill.
- Muddati Hundi: A muddati or miadi hundi is payable after a specified period of time. This is similar to a time bill. There are few other varieties like Nam-jog hundi, Dhani-jog hundi, Jawabee hundi, Jokhami hundi, Firman-jog hundi, etc.