(1) This revision is directed against the order of the District Munsif, Gudur dated 2-1-1962 refusing to receive a plaint presented at his residence at about 8-30 p. m., that is, after court hours. The suit was sought to be filed on the foot of a promissory note dated 1-1-1959 on the last day of limitation, that is, 2-1-1962. When it was presented to the District Munsif at his residence after the court hours at 8-30 p. m., he refused to receive it. The contention of the learned counsel for the petitioner is that the Court had jurisdiction either to accept or reject it, but once the Court accepted it, it could not return the plaint with an endorsement refusing to accept it. In this connection, the learned counsel drew my attention to the case of Thakur Dinram v. Hari Das, ILR 34 All 482; Sattayya Padayachi v. Sundarathachi 46 Mad LJ 78 : (AIR 1924 Mad 448) (FB) and Tula Ram v. Bhajan Singh, : AIR1953All609 .
(2) Before discussing the authorities cited, I would like to refer to O. IV, R I C. P. C. It provides ;
'(1) Every suit shall be instituted by presenting a plaint to the court of such Officer as it appoints in this behalf.
(2) Every plaint shall comply with the rules contained in Orders VI and VII , so far as they are applicable.'
There is nothing in Order IV Rule I. C. P. C. to show that the presentation must be within office hours or must be to the officer appointed at the court or at any particular place. The question therefore that arises is whether the Judge has the discretion to accept the plaint or appeal presented to him after the court hours.
(3) It is a matter of common knowledge that in cases of emergency, applications are made to Judges at their private residences and are received by them, and if Judge accepts the plaint or the appeal, it cannot be said that his act is without jurisdiction. I am supported in this view by the case of ILR 34 All 482. This was a case where a memorandum of appeal was presented to the District Judge at his private house after the court hours on the last day of limitation. It was held that the judge had jurisdiction to accept the memorandum of appeal so presented, though he was not obliged to do so. It is clear, therefore, that a judge has a discretion either to accept it or reject it.
Following this decision, a Full Bench of the Madras High Court, in the case of Sattayya Padayachi v. Saundarathachi, 46 Mad L. J. 78 : (AIR 1924 Mad 448) (F. B.) , held that where a Judge accepts a plaint presented to him outside court and after the usual hours, he suit must be deemed to have been instituted on the date on which the plaint was so presented on the last day of limitation at the residence of the Judge by the Vakil at about 7-30 p. m. The learned Judge accepted the plaint and cancelled the stamp on it by writing upon it the words 'presented to me by' giving the name of the Vakil, at 7-30 p.m. and signed and dated it. A question arose having regard to section 3 of the Limitation Act, and it was argued that even though the learned Judge had accepted the plaint, it was barred because it has not been instituted within the period of limitation. The Full Bench repelled this contention.
(4) The Allahabad High Court also in the case of : AIR1953All609 took a similar view that a Judge has got the Discretion either to accept or reject but once he accepted it, it cannot be rejected. In this case, when the plaint was presented at the bungalow of the Munsif at about 9-30 p. m., the learned Munsif passed the following order on the back of the plaint :
'Presented to me by Mr. Randir Singh, Vakil at 9-30 p. m., on 22nd August 1947, at any house. I do not think it proper to accept it at this late hour and therefore, refuse to accept it and return it back to the said Vakil.'
It was held by Malik, C.J. (as he then was) that though the Judge had the discretion either to accept or reject it, but once he accepted it, he could not refuse to accept it by returning it to the lawyer.
(5) From the above discussions it becomes, clear that there is nothing in Order IV, Rule 1, C. P. C to show that the presentation must be within the office hours and the Judges to whom a plaint or appeal is presented after the Court hours has a discretion to Accept it or reject it, but once the Judge accepted it, he cannot refuse to take it by endorsing his refusal.
(6) The lower court, relying on the case of Sinnappa Naidu v. Sinnamma Naicken, 82 Ind Cas 928 : (AIR 1925 Mad 201) has refused to receive the plaint. This was a case where the plaint was time-barred and it was presented to the Munsif at the Club. There is nothing in the judgment to show that the District Munsif had accepted it or had made any endorsement of refusal. Further , it may be noted that this does jot show that there was any prohibition for the District Munsif to accept the plaintiff On the other hand, it supports the view that the District Munsif has a discretion either to accept or refuse it. This ruling, therefore in my opinion does not go against the contention of the petitioner .
(7) it would be appropriate at this stage to refer to another circumstance. Section 5 of the Limitation Act is not applicable to suits where was it is applicable to appeals and on sufficient cause being shown, the delay can be condoned, but in a Court entertaining original suits, the refusal to entertain a plaint filed after court hours puts an end to the claim of the plaintiff mind, therefore, though a judge is not bound to accept a plaint or an application presented to him after courts hours, as far as possible that is the last day of limitation he should if it is not too inconvenient accept the plaint or application and direct it to be put up before him the next day in court for further orders.
(8) In the light of the above principles, if I may refer to the instant case, I find that the plaint was presented to the learned District Munsif on the last day of limitation and he received it and endorsed on it refusing to accept it relying on 82 Ind Cas 928 : (AIR 1925 Mad 210) : But in view of the above discussion, this revision has to be allowed. The revision is therefore allowed ; the order of the learned District Munsif returning the plaint to the lawyer has to be set aside. The plaint having been presented to him within time on 2-1-1962, it must go back for trial according to law. The petitioner should present the plaint to the District Munsif's Court within two weeks from today. Costs of this revision to abide the result in the suit.
(9) Petition allowed.