1. The question raised in this appeal is one of some nicety upon the construction of Section 72 of the Dakkhan Agriculturists' Relief Act, a section which, as it seems to us, is somewhat unfortunately worded.
2. The bond in suit is registered, and was executed on the 19th june 1900. Ordinarily the period of limitation would have expired in 1907, that is, six years from the accrual of the cause of action in 1901. The suit was not filed till 1912, but it is sought to save it by virtue of Section 72 of the Dakkhan Agriculturists' Relief Act, which, if it can properly be applied, extends the period to twelve years. The lower appellate Court has upheld the plaintiff's contention on this point.
3. It is now contended by Mr. Tulzapurkar for the appellants that Section 72 cannot be invoked in the plaintiff's favour, because the suit is brought not against the person who originally executed the bond in 1900, but against his sons. It is, therefore, urged, following the strict words of the section, that this suit cannot be said to be brought against a person who, at the time when the cause of action arose, was an agriculturist in the named districts. For, the argument runs, the cause of action arose in 1901, and at that time the persons against whom the suit is brought were not only not agriculturists within the named districts, but were not in existence at all. That no doubt is a construction to which a rigorous adherence to the mere words of Section 72 does lend some countenance, but it is not, we think, a construction which the Court ought to favour, if only out of respect for the Legislature. For, if we followed that construction, the result would be that a suit brought against an agriculturist father would receive the concession afforded by the section, but the concession would be refused if the suit were brought against the agriculturist sons upon the death of the father; and a result so repugnant ought not lightly to be attributed to the Legislature. Rather, we think, it must be taken that the word 'person' in Section 72 is equivalent to the word 'defendant' which occurs in Section 3, Clause (w), that clause being referred to in the section.
4. It may also be contended with less violence than Mr. Tulzapurkar's argument would involve that the words 'cause of action' must be read in their proper sense as referring to the whole bundle of material facts which it is incumbent upon the plaintiff to prove in order to establish his case. In such an instance as this, therefore, the cause of action as against the present defendants would be compounded partly of the fact of the execution of the bond and partly of the fact that the present defendants succeeded to the liabilities of their father on his death in 1909. In that view also the suit would fall within the scope of Section 72, and plaintiff would be entitled to the extended limitation.
5. On these grounds we think the lower appellate Court was right, and the appeal is dismissed with costs.