1. This appeal arises out of a suit brought by the respondents for a declaration that a certain plot of land, situate in the village of Kankanpur, in the Godhra taluka, belonged to plaintiff No. 1, plaintiff No. 2 and defendant No. 2.
2. The plaint avers that 'Plaintiff No. 1 served defendant No. 1 with a notice on October 4, 1927, under Civil Procedure Code, Section 80 ' and no reply was received from defendant No. 1 even after the expiry of two months.
3. Defendant No. 1 denied the title of the plaintiffs and defendant No. 2 to the plot and further contended that the notice, exhibit 13, was not proper and sufficient within the meaning of Section 80 of the Civil Procedure Code.
4. Both the Courts repelled the contentions of defendant No. 1.
5. The Secretary of State for India in Council now appeals and raises the same questions.
6. The first question is whether the notice purported to have been given under Section 80 of the Civil Procedure Code was sufficient within the meaning of that section. The notice, on the face of it, was given by plaintiff No. 1 only.
7. The learned District Judge, with regard to this contention, held that the omission in not joining plaintiff No. 2 and defendant No. 2 was not fatal to the sufficiency of the notice, and relied upon the decision in Secretary of State for India in Council v. Perumal Pillai I.L.R (1900) 24 Mad. 279. It may, however, be pointed out that this case was decided before the decision of the Privy Council in Bhagchand Dagadusa v. Secretary of Slate for India I.L.R (1927) 51 Bom. 725 : s.c. 29 Bom. L.R. 1227.. It was held by their Lordships, in that case, that Section 80 imposes a statutory and unqualified obligation upon the Court and is to be strictly complied with ; it is not merely procedure.
8. It is true that the precise point, which is raised in this case, was not before their Lordships of the Privy Council in that case. But, once it is realized that Section 80 is imperative and imposes a statutory and unqualified obligation upon the Court to see that its terms are complied with, I think the position becomes dear.
9. The object of Section 80 is to give the Secretary of State for India an opportunity of settling the claim, if so advised, without litigation, or, to enable him to have an opportunity to investigate the alleged cause of complaint and to make amends, if he thought fit, before he was impleaded in the suit. This object would be completely frustrated, if it was maintained that a notice, which contained the names, descriptions and places of residence of some only of the plaintiffs in the suit, was sufficient. The word 'plaintiff' in the singular must be construed in the plural. This is the view which has been taken in Appa Rao v. Secretary of State for India (1930) I.L.R. 54 Mad. 416 and Bhola Nath Roy v. Secretary of State for India (I.L.R1912) Cal. 503 and I think that view is correct. It may be that this view may lead to some complications, but I am not concerned with them for the present, in this appeal.
10. In this view, it is not necessary for me to go into the other question which was raised by the appellant in this appeal, and I express no opinion on it, in this case.
11. The appeal, therefore, must be allowed, the decree of the Courts below must be reversed, and the suit dismissed with costs throughout.