Dr. T.N. Singh, J.
1. The writ petitioner has challenged in this application the interpretation of Section 97 of the Manipur Cooperative Societies Act, 1976, for short 'the Act' rendered by the Presiding Officer of the Manipur State Co-operative Tribunal (Respondent No. 1), while dismissing in limine the appeal preferred by him, by order passed on 12-1-84, in Tribunal Petition No. 31/Tribl. dated 11-1-1984. The provision may, therefore, be quoted at the outset :
'Any party aggrieved by any decision of the Registrar or his nominee or board of nominees under the last proceeding section, or an order passed under Section 95 may, within two months from the date of the decision or order, appeal to the Tribunal.'
2. Respondent No. 5 is the State of Manipur and respondents 1 and 2 are its instrumentalities. Respondents 3 and 4 are individuals. Learned Senior Govt. Advocate has appeared on behalf of respondents 1, 2 and 5 accepting notice of the application. We do not consider it necessary to issue notice of this application to respondents 3 and 4 as the decision in this application rests solely on the interpretation of statutory provision and the Stale, in our opinion, is the only necessary party, therefore, to be heard before a decision is given in this matter by this Court. Indeed, what is challenged in this petition is the decision rendered by the first respondent and as the appeal was dismissed in limine without hearing the 3rd and 4th respondents they will not be affected by the decision rendered in the instant case.
3. We need not, for the reasons adverted, dilate upon the facts of this case. Shortly put, the 'dispute' relates to the election of the Board of Directors and also of the delegates of Imphal Urban Co-operative Bank Ltd, The 'dispute' was taken in Arbitration Case No. 6
of 1983 to the Registrar of Co-operative Societies, Manipur as contemplated u/s 91 of the Act. Eventually, the Joint Registrar, to whom the 'dispute' was referred for adjudication, passed on 23-12-1983 the first impugned order in Misc. (Co-op) Case No. 13 Qf 1983. In the said Misc. case objection as to maintainability of the petition in the Arbitration Case was taken on two grounds. It was firstly contended that the petition was time-barred and secondly that it was liable to be dismissed for non-joinder of parties. Both the objections failed to weigh with the learned Joint Registrar who dismissed the Misc. Case. Thereupon, the petitioner filed an appeal under Section 97 of the Act before the Manipur State Co-operative Tribunal, in which the second impugned order, which is assailed before us, was passed.
4. The learned Presiding Officer of the Tribunal dismissed in limine, as mis-conceived, the appeal, taking the view that Section 97 of the Act did not envisage such an appeal. He also refused to convert the appeal into a revision. However, we are not called upon in this case to decide the correctness of his decision as to whether the appeal could be converted into revision. We limit our decision to the first point, namely, whether the appeal was maintainable under Section 97 of the Act.
5. Learned Presiding Officer, according to us, took a narrow view of the matter and his construction of Section 97 cannot, therefore, be sustained. He took the view that the power of the Tribunal to entertain an appeal under Section 97 was limited only against the orders passed under Sections 95 and 96 of the Act. For this view, we do not find any warrant in the language of Section 97. In our view the said section provides for and indicates the several contingencies in which an appeal can be filed before the Tribunal. The general right to appeal to Tribunal, in all cases, is there in Section 97, available 'to any party aggrieved by any decision of the Registrar'. Appeals also lie against the 'decisions' of the nominee or Board of nominees of the Registrar in a proceeding under Section 96. Further, appeals also lie against an order passed under Section 95. These contingencies, in our opinion, are mutually exclusive. We say so because Section 3 of the Act defines the term 'Registrar' comprehensively. The definition clause embraced by Section 2(25) of the Act has to be read along with Section 3. It is true
that the definition clause merely says 'Registrar' means a person appointed to be the Registrar of the Co-operative Societies under the Act. We may, however, read the provisions of Section 3 :
'The State Government may appoint a person to be the Registrar of Co-operative Societies for the State; and may appoint one or more persons to assist such Registrar, and may, by general or special order confer on any such person or persons all or any of the powers of the Registrar under this Act. The person or persons so appointed to assist the Registrar and on whom any powers of the Registrar are conferred, shall work under the general guidance, superintendence and control of the Registrar.'
6. In our opinion, any person appointed by the State Government to assist the Registrar is also a 'Registrar' within the meaning of the Act. This is clear from the language of Section 3. Because, it provides that the person or persons so appointed to assist the Registrar and on whom any powers of the Registrar are conferred, shall work under the general guidance, superintendence and control of the Registrar. In this case the order under appeal before the Tribunal was passed by the Joint Registrar. There cannot be any dispute that he was a person appointed by the State Government to assist the Registrar and that he worked under the general guidance, superintendence and control of the Registrar. In this view of the matter an order impugned in appeal before the Tribunal was clearly an order by the 'Registrar' within the meaning of Section 97 and an appeal lay against his decision to the Tribunal, which was rendered in an application under Section 91.
7. In placing the above interpretation on Section 97 we have taken into consideration the scope and object of the enactment as a whole and also the setting of Chapter IX (Sections 91-101) in which it finds its niche. The chapter is captioned 'Dispute & Arbitration' and a provision therein for an appeal against 'orders' or ''decisions' rendered in 'disputes' or 'arbitrations' contemplated in the chapter is but natural. We may also appositely refer to the provisions of Section 162, which bars jurisdiction of civil and revenue courts in respect of the matters listed therein. This provision has a wide sweep which is manifested by Sub-section (3), as follows :
'All orders, decisions or awards passed in accordance with this Act or the rules, shall, subject to the provisions for appeal or revision in this Act be final, and no such order, decision or award shall be liable to be challenged, set aside, modified, revised or declared void in any Court upon the merits, or upon any other ground whatsoever except for want of jurisdiction.'
8. We have no doubt that the Legislature intended to provide in the Tribunal a final Arbiter of facts and law in such matters for the simple reason that a party is not to be left without a remedy. To curtail, therefore, the power of the Tribunal to entertain appeal will, in our opinion, be contrary of the legislative intent expressed in Section 97 and 162 of the Act. All matters which involve mixed, or even pure questions of fact and law must, therefore, be decided by the Tribunal as the final court of appeal under the Act. For this view we find support from other intrinsic evidence. Chapter XIII is captioned 'Appeals, Review and Revision'. Of this chapter, Section 149 and 150 between them, embrace these provisions as respects the Tribunal. Sub-section (3) of Section 149 envisages its revisional powers exercisable, however, only in cases in which appeal lies. This provision cannot be entombed and must be allowed its full play but to accord with the rule of harmonious construction. This provision will, in our opinion, be obviously rendered otiose if Section 97 is not liberally construed. Indeed, any person aggrieved by any 'decision' or 'order' rendered in a 'dispute' or 'arbitration' under Chapter IX shall otherwise be left in the lurch to rue the legislative slip.
9. It is needless to refer to the time honoured canons of constructions which have impelled us to take the above view. It is the duty of the courts to construe the provisions of a statute liberally to effectuate legislative intent and to give meaning to all parts of it so that the whole of its becomes effective and operative (see, Siraj-ul Huq v. Board of Wakf, AIR 1959 SC 198). It is equally well settled that the mechanical rule of literal construction based on grammar must yield place to liberal construction in appropriate cases so that the light coming from the principal objects of the enactment and other provisions of the Act can illumine any of its obscure provisions (see,
Dy. Custodian v. Official Receiver, AIR 1965 SC 951; State of West Bengal v. Union of India, AIR 1963 SC 1241). Indeed, what has inspired us in this exercise is the modern approach of purposive construction. That Act, indubitably, fulfils the constitutional mandate of the Directive Principles. It is necessary, therefore, to consider that the provision of 'Tribunal' has a specific object. It cannot be gainsaid that the informal nature of proceedings before it accord well with the object of the Act. It has several advantages over proceedings in Courts which are of adversary nature. Indeed, proceedings before Tribunal are likely to be inexpensive and expeditious. These we have to bear in mind and we have borne these in mind while considering the provisions of Section 97 of the Act. Co-operative Societies generally are small man's institutions. Legislature intended to protect the small man and his society against protracted and expensive litigation.
10. We accordingly allow this application arid issue a certiorari quashing the impugned order passed by the learned Tribunal, because, in our opinion, it is an error of law apparent on the face of the record. The memo of appeal directed to be returned to the petitioner shall be taken back on file by the learned Tribunal and disposed of according to law.
11. In the result the application succeeds. The rule is made absolute. However, there will be no order as to costs.