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Demand Instrument and "At sight", “On presentment”, “After sight”

Section 19 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881 deals with demand instrument, while section 21 of the Act deals with “At sight”, “On Presentment”, “After sight”. Section 19 may be conveniently read with section 21.

Instruments payable on demand

A promissory note or bill of exchange, in which no time for payment is specified, and a cheque, are payable on demand.1)


The insertion of the word ‘cheque’ seems to be superfluous as the very definition of ‘cheque’ in section 6 of the Act shows that it is always an ’on demand’ instrument. A note which does not fix any date for payment is payable on demand. The cause of action on such notes arises on the date of execution of the instrument and there is no necessity to prove any demand to complete the cause of action.

“At sight”, “On presentment”, “After sight”

In a promissory note or bill of exchange the expressions “at sight” and “on presentment” means on demand. The expression “after sight” means, in a promissory note, after presentment for sight, and, in a bill of exchange after acceptance, or noting for non-acceptance, or protest for non-acceptance.2)


A note payable “at sight” or ‘on presentment’ is a note payable on demand like a note which is specifically stated to be payable on demand or a note for the payment of which no time is mentioned.3) All the four kinds of notes are ‘on demand’ notes. The expression ‘at sight’ and ’on presentment’ mean ‘on demand’. But still there is an important difference between ‘at sight’ and ‘on presentment’ notes on one hand and notes specifically stated to be payable on demand and notes for the payment of which no time is mentioned,on the other. In the former class of notes the cause of action does not arise before the note is actually presented and the demand is made while in the latter class it need not be presented at all and no demand need actually be made. It, therefore follows that the note of former class does not become payable before it is presented and, therefore, limitation cannot begin to run before presentation. In the latter class the limitation would run from the date of the instrument Under the Indian Stamp Act Schedule 1 Article 13 and 49 stamp necessary in all these cases will be the same.

The expression “after sight” has no more meaning than “at sight” if no definite period is prefixed to it as, for instance, “30 days after sight” at the end of which it becomes payable. If no such period is prefixed to it, it will mean the same thing as ‘at sight’. In case of a note, the phrase ‘after sight’ means after exhibition, thereof, to the maker for founding a claim for payment, and in case of a bill of exchange, the phrase means after acceptance, or noting for non-acceptance, or protest for non-acceptance.

Section 19
Section 21
Section 22