Mohammad Ismail, J.
1. This is a defendant's appeal from an order arising out of a suit for accounts under Section 33, Agriculturists' Belief Act, on the allegations that the plaintiff 'borrowed two sums of Rs. 150 and Rs. 100 under bonds dated 15th May 1931 and 22nd August 1931 respectively, that the plaintiff repaid Rs. 490 to the defendant; that the latter appropriated Rupees 349 towards the bond of 15th May 1931 and the balance of Rs. 141 was appropriated towards the second bond, that the plaintiff is an agriculturist and that he is entitled to the benefit of Section 30 of the Act. The suit was resisted by the defendant inter alia on the grounds that the plaintiff was not an agriculturist, that the bond of 15th May 1931 having been fully satisfied no accounting with respect to that could be claimed under the provisions of the Act, that the plaintiff paid only Rs. 186 which was appropriated in full satisfaction of the first bond; that nothing was paid towards the second bond. The trial Court upon a consideration of evidence came to the conclusion that the plaintiff was not an agriculturist; that the first bond was fully satisfied and no accounting with respect to that could be claimed; that Rs. 133-4-0 was due on account of the second bond provided the Agriculturists' Relief Act applied and the plaintiff was held entitled to reduction of interest. The learned Munsif eventually dismissed the suit. The lower Appellate Court disagreed with the findings of the Court of first instance and held that the plaintiff was an agriculturist and that the accounting with respect to the first bond could be claimed. On these findings the suit was, remanded to the Court below for trial in the light of the observations contained in the judgment of the lower Appellate Court. The defendant now comes to this Court in appeal.
2. The first question for determination is : Is it open to the plaintiff to claim an accounting with respect to the first bond which has been fully satisfied? Section 33 provides that an agriculturist debtor may sue for an account of money lent or advanced to.... The expression 'debtor' to my mind indicates that the relationship of debtor and creditor is subsisting between the parties. It would be a misnomer to call a person a debtor who has fully satisfied his debt long before the suit. It is conceivable that in a suit under Section 33 on accounting it may be found that nothing is due from the plaintiff, but in such a case according to the defendant, the debt subsisted, at the time of the suit. The Section provides a summary remedy for the decision of disputes between a creditor and a debtor.
3. In the present case however we find that it is admitted that the bond of 15th May 1931 was returned to the plaintiff and the plaintiff was informed by the defendant that it was fully satisfied. For the purposes of the decision of this issue, it is not necessary to consider whether only Rs. 186 was paid by the plaintiff as alleged by the defendant or Rs. 490 was paid, as alleged by the plaintiff. The plaintiff in his statement clearly stated that he paid Rs. 490 in one lump sum. When he paid the money ha asked the defendant that the bigger bond should be paid off and the balance should be paid towards the second bond. Under these circumstances, there can be no room for doubt that the parties fully understood the position and intended to close the transaction with respect to the bond of 15th May 1931. My attention has not been drawn to any provision of the Act which specifically provides that debts that had been fully satisfied to the knowledge of the parties may be reopened. Learned Counsel for the respondent has drawn my attention to Sub-section (4), Section 33 which lays down that subject to Section 30(4) or Section 31(2) as the case may be, if the defendant is found to have been overpaid the Court shall pass a decree for a refund of the amount of such overpayment in favour of the plaintiff. Section 30, Sub-clause (4) provides as follows:
Any amount already received by the creditor on account of interest in excess of that due under this Section shall be credited towards the principal; but nothing in this Section shall be deemed to entitle a debtor to claim refund of any part of the interest already paid by him.
4. Section 31, Sub-section (2) lays down a similar provision. Taking into consideration the directions laid down in the foregoing Sections it follows that payments made by a debtor towards interest are to be appropriated first to the satisfaction of the interest and the -balance, if any, towards the principal. The Court is empowered to pass a decree in favour of the plaintiff if the defendant has been overpaid provided the refund is not for any part of interest already paid by the plaintiff. In other words, overpaid part of principal alone can be refunded. There is nothing however to show that any claim for refund of excess payment can be made by a plaintiff whose debt had been liquidated long before the suit with the consent and knowledge of the parties. A reference to Section 30, Sub-clause (2) would show that any decree which has been satisfied cannot form the subject of a suit under Section 33. In case of a decree the loan is merged in the decree and the debtor becomes a judgment-debtor. If the contention of learned Counsel dot the respondent is sound, in that case a judgment-debtor will be in a worse position than an ordinary debtor who has repaid his debt. If the intention of the Legislature was that old transaction which had been closed long before the suit were to be opened, we would expect that a clear provision to that effect would be found in the Act. In the absence of any such provision I am not prepared to hold that a suit for the re-opening of accounts of a closed transaction is permissible under Section 33 of the Act.
5. The next question for determination is whether the plaintiff is entitled to sue for accounts with respect to the second bond of 22nd August 1931. This will depend on :the decision of the further question whether the plaintiff is an agriculturist as contemplated by the Act. The plaintiff has proved that he was an agriculturist at the time of the institution of the suit and the Court below has accepted the statement of the plaintiff on this point. I therefore accept the finding of the Court below that the plaintiff was an agriculturist at the time of the institution of the suit. The question is whether in order to claim benefit of Section 30 it is necessary for the plaintiff to prove that he was an agriculturist at the time the loan was made. Section 30(1) refers to the reduction of interest on a loan taken before this Act came into force. The word (loan) has been defined in Section 2(10) of the Act and runs as follows:
'Loan' means an advance to an agriculturist, whether of money or in kind, and shall include any transaction which is in substance a loan.
6. If this definition is applied to the expression 'loan' finding place in. Section 30 then the plaintiff would not be entitled, to claim a reduction of interest because he has no evidence to prove that he was an agriculturist at the time the loan was advanced. Learned Counsel for the respondent contends that it is not necessary that a debtor may be an agriculturist at the time of the advancement of the loan if he is an agriculturist at the time of the institution of the suit. In Section 30 however the word 'agriculturist' is not prefixed to the word 'debtor.' From this it would appear that a non-agriculturist also may take advantage of the Section and may claim a reduction of interest provided that he was an agriculturist at the time the loan was advanced. This question was considered in Misri Lal v. Alexander Gardner : AIR1936All697 , and it was held that where money was advanced to an agriculturist under a mortgage deed a non-agriculturist transferee from him who had to repay that money was entitled to the benefit of the provisions of Section 30. In the body of the judgment the learned Judges remarked as follows:
The term 'loan' is defined. It means without specifying particular details an advance made to an agriculturist. As Mr. Gardner was an agriculturist and as none of the other details in the definition applied the money advanced to him was a loan within the meaning of Section 30....
7. In Bireshwar Das Bapuli v. Uma Kant Panday : AIR1937All297 the view taken in Misri Lal v. Alexander Gardner : AIR1936All697 was considered and approved. In the present case the suit was instituted under Section 33 of the Act which provides that an agriculturist debtor may sue for an account of money and the suit is to be decided subject to the provisions of Section 30(2) or Section 31(2) as the case may be. In my opinion therefore, unless the plaintiff proves that he was an agriculturist at the time of the institution of the suit; and also at the time the loan was advanced he cannot maintain a suit for accounts under the provisions of Section 33. I have carefully read the judgment of the lower Appellate Court and in my opinion the learned Civil Judge has not come to a correct conclusion.
8. I accordingly allow the appeal, set aside the order of the Court below and restore that of the Court of first instance. The appellant will be entitled to his costs throughout. Leave to appeal under Letters Patent is granted.