1. This plaintiffs second Civil Appeal has been referred to the Full Bench on account of the importance of a question of law involved in the case. The question involved is whether on the dismissal of a suit in default the attachment before judgment automatically lapsed and a fresh attachment was necessary on the restoration of the suit, or whether on the restoration of the suit the attachment previously made is revived or is survived.
2. Smt Muradan and her husband Nasib Ullah had purchased a house on 16-1-47. The plaintiff-appellant had filed a suit for recovery of certain sum of money against Nasib Ullah in the year 1951 and on an application made got the half share of Nasib Ullah in the house attached before judgment on 11-11-51. The suit was thereafter dismissed for default but was subsequently restored and ultimately decreed. In execution of the decree the half share of Nasib Ullah was sold and purchased by the plaintiff-appellant. The sale was confirmed on 28-10-59. The appellant claimed to have taken possession on 6-5-60.
3. The contesting defendant-respondent Karim Bux claimed to have acquired Nasib Ullah's share in the house under a sale deed dated 4-8-53. This sale deed was executed after the restoration of the suit. The defendant Karim Bux's contention was that on the dismissal of the suit in default the attachment before judgment lapsed and since no fresh attachment was made the sale affected by Nasib Ullah on 4-8-53 remained unaffected and Nasib Ullah thereafter was not left with any subsisting title to or interest in the house which could have been sold in execution of the decree passed in appellant's favour. The contention of the respondent was repelled by the trial Court but upheld by the lower appellate Court hence this second Civil Appeal.
4. Order 38, Rule 6 of the Civil Procedure Code authorises a Court to attach before judgment the property of the defendant in case the Court is satisfied that the defendant in order to delay or defeat the execution of a decree that may be passed against him is about to remove or dispose of his property and has failed to furnish the required security. Order 38, Rule 9 is the subject-matter of interpretation which is in these words:--
'Where an order is made for attachment before judgment, the Court shall order the attachment to bewithdrawn when the defendant furnishes the security required, together with security for the costs of the attachment, or when the suit is dismissed.'
5. The contention of the plaintiff-appellant is that Order 38, Rule 9 contemplates a specific order of withdrawal of attachment and so long that specific order of withdrawal of attachment is not passed the attachment continued and the transfer in favour of defendant-respondent No. 1 was of no effect It is admitted that in the instant case there was no specific order of removal of attachment. Reliance has been placed by the learned counsel for the appellant on Thampi Muhammad Abdulkhadir v. Padmanabha Pillai Paramesnwaran Pillai, AIR 1952 Tav-Co 414 (FB) wherein it has been laid down that :
'An attachment before judgment which ceased to be in force with the dismissal of the suit will revive when the decree dismissing the suit is subsequently reversed and a decree in the plaintiffs favour is passed, even by the same court or by a superior Court and this revival will be in force from the date on which the attachment before judgment is effected as provided for in the Civil Procedure Code.'
6. Reliance has also been placed by him on Namagiri Ammal v. Muthu Velappa Goundan, AIR 1928 Mad 940, but that case has been overruled in Balaraju Chettiar v. Masilamani Pillai, AIR 1930 Mad 514 (FB) and it was held that on a dismissal of a suit an attachment before judgment necessarily ceases under Order 38, Rule 9 even though the Court does not pass an order withdrawing it. The observations of their Lordships of the Travancore-Cochin go to show that an order of attachment ceases with the dismissal of the suit in spite of any express order. The doctrine of revival of the order is invoked for the continuance of the order after the decree is subsequently reversed. An attachment before judgment is in the nature of an interlocutory order and an extraordinary relief available to the plaintiff even before his claim is adjudicated upon normally cannot be allowed to subsist after the dismissal of the suit. Gopal Prasad v. Kashinath, ILR 42 All 39 = (AIR 1920 All 356) has also been relied upon by the learned counsel for the appellant in support of his submission wherein it was laid down that :--
'An order of the High Court restoring an attachment which has been raised by an order of an inferior Court relates back to the date when the attachment was first made, and its effect will be to invalidate a sale made when on the face of the record there was no subsisting attachment of the property sold.'
7. That was a case where their Lord-ships were considering the effect of a High Court's order under which the attachmentwas restored with effect from a particular date. The facts of that case are quite distinguishable. A distinction has also to be drawn in cases where the attachment is itself in dispute in execution of a decree and Where by an appellate order the order of the inferior Court is set aside.
8. Examining the cases propounding the different views it appears that most of the High Courts are of the opinion that an attachment before judgment ceases after the dismissal of the suit even though no express order is passed. According to the, majority view an attachment would terminate no sooner the suit is dismissed by the trial Court. The view of this Court throughout has been that an attachment before judgment ceases on the dismissal of the suit.
9. In Ram Chand v. Pitam Mal, ILR 10 All 506 it was laid down that an attachment before judgment like a temporary injunction becomes functus officio as soon as the suit terminated. The observations of Hon'ble Mahmood, J. were based on an earlier Division Bench case of this Court in Chunni Kuar v. Dwarka Prasad, (1887) All WN 297, the Madras High Court in Balaraju Chettiar's case, AIR 1930 Mad 514 (FB) (supra) following the Allahabad view.
10. The law laid down in Ram Chand's case, (1888) ILR 10 All 506 (supra) has been followed by this Court in Dular Singh v. Ram Chander : AIR1934All165 and in Ghulam Dastgir v. Mohammad Amin : AIR1937All682 . A Division Bench of the Andbra Pradesh High Court in Kumaji Sare Mal v. Kalwa Devadattam, AIR 1958 Andh Pra 216 have dissented from the Travancore-Cochin's view and have held that:
'When once attachment is raised as a result of the dismissal of the suit by the trial Court it would not get automatically revived when the suit is decreed in appeal.'
11. From the facts of that case it appears that the attachment was raised.
12. The Full Bench of Mysore High Court in Gangappa v. Boregowda, AIR 1955 Mys 91 (FB) while dissenting from the Travancore-Cochin High Court have laid down that :
'An attachment before judgment is in the nature of an interlocutory order. It is an extraordinary relief granted to a plaintiff even before his claim is adjudicated upon and found to be true and if a suit is dismissed either for default or on its merits by the trial Court and the attachment before judgment has therefore to cease, he can certainly have not as much grievance as a person who has obtained a decree and attached property of the judgment-debtor whose right to attached property has been questioned and decided in summary proceedings and which are made expressly subject to a decision in a regular suit. Moreover, it cannot also be urged that all interlocutory orders like saythose passed on applications for temporary injunction the operation of which would have to cease on the dismissal of a suit, would automatically be revived or can be deemed to be in force without any further orders by an appellate court or by the same Court after the suit is dismissed. To hold so would lead to obvious and real difficulties. It is not also as though the plaintiff in such a case has no remedy. He could always apply to the same Court if a suit which has been dismissed for default is restored to file or to an appellate Court which has also ample powers to grant an order of attachment before judgment under the provisions of Section 107(2), Civil P. C.'
13. The Bombay, Calcutta, Rangoon and Madhya Pradesh High Courts have followed the interpretation laid down in Ram Chand's case, (1888) ILR 10 All 506 (supra). In Chindha Rupla Patil v. Chhaganlal Shivlal, AIR 1928 Bom 545 a Division Bench of Bombay High Court took the view that under Order 38, Rule 9 the attachment before judgment must be considered to have been withdrawn when the suit was dismissed. In Abdur Rahman v. Amir Sharif, AIR 1918 Cal 39 it was laid down by a Division Bench of the Calcutta High Court that;
'An attachment before judgment comes to an end when the suit is dismissed.
In order to avoid all possible doubt and difficulty, the Court should when dismissing a suit make an order under Order 38, Rule 9 withdrawing the attachment before judgment. But even if an order directing withdrawal of attachment is not made, on the dismissal of the suit, the attachment before judgment ceases to exist, and it does not revive when an appeal is lodged.'
14. In another Division Bench of the Calcutta High Court Jyotish Chandra Sen v. Har Chandra Saha : AIR1928Cal234 it was laid down that:
'When a suit abates and comes to an end on the death of a party, the attachment before judgment dies with it.'
15. A Division Bench of Rangoon High Court also in D. Manackjee v. R. M. N. Chettyar, AIR 1927 Rang 310 have gone to the extent of remarking that a surety is discharged upon the dismissal of the suit. In the case of surety the liability of a surety will depend on the terms of the surety bond. But the view of the Rangoon High Court is also in favour of the withdrawal of attachment before judgment on the dismissal of the suit.
16. The Madhya Pradesh High Court in Madanlal Chhotelal v. Ramprakash Ghasiram : AIR1963MP329 have dissented from the Travancore Cochin's view and have preferred the view of this Court and other High Courts. It was laid down by them that :--
'The attachment before judgment which terminates on the dismissal of the suit by thetrial Court, is not automatically revived by the fact that the appellate Court reversing the dismissal of the suit passes a decree in favour of the attaching plaintiff.'
17. The language of Order 38, Rule 9no doubt is capable of both the interpretations but the well-recognised rule of interpretation is that where the language is capable of two interpretations and where the section of the Act has received a judicial construction and the said construction has long been acted on without any alteration in the statute, the interpretation so recognised and acted on is to be accepted on the principle of stare decisis because it is the general maxim that even a point of law has been settled by decision it forms a precedent which is not afterwards to be departed from. The latter part of the rule which requires that the attachment shall be removed when the suit is dismissed is either directory or mandatory. If it is directory the attachment is removed automatically in spite of no order of the Court, If it is mandatory, then the duty of the Court is to pass an order and a party cannot be penalised where the consequences for the dismissal appear to be the withdrawal of the attachment before judgment. The Lower Appellate Court in these circumstances was right in upholding respondent No. 1's claim based on the transfer in his favour and rejecting the plaintiff-appellant's contentions.
18. This appeal, therefore, has no force and is accordingly dismissed but in the circumstances of this case costs shall be on parties.
19. I have read the judgment prepared by brother Trivedi, J., but I regret I cannot subscribe to the view taken by him.
20. The object of attachment before judgment as provided in Order 38, Rule 6, C. P. C. is to prevent defendant from delaying or defeating the execution of a decree that may ultimately be passed against him by removing or disposing of his property. In other words, this provision is meant to afford a protection to the plaintiff until his claim is finally decided. Where a suit is dismissed for default, but is subsequently restored, the protection must enure to his benefit during the time between the date of dismissal and the application for restoration. If the attachment automatically lapses on the dismissal of the suit, he would lose such a protection and the defendant would be free to carry out his design of defeating or delaying the decree which may ultimately be passed against him by putting the property out of the reach of the plaintiff by transfer, etc. In such a case even if the plaintiff files an application for restoration and simultaneously makes an application for attachment before judgment, the court will not be able to pass an order of attachment with retrospective effect so as to cover the gap between the date of dismissal and the date of filing the application. The samewould be the position if the suit is dismissed on merits. If the attachment lapses immediately on the dismissal of the suit, the plaintiff would be exposed to the risk between the period of dismissal of the suit and the filing of the appeal. The appellate court may grant to the plaintiff interim relief by way of attachment before judgment from the date of the filing of the appeal. But the appellate Court would also not be able- to undo the mischief that might have been done by the defendant during the interval. It is to guard against such an eventuality that Order 38, Rule 9 provides that an order of attachment shall remain in force even if the suit has been dismissed, unless that order has been specifically withdrawn which normally would be done after notice to the plaintiff. If the order of attachment lapses without notice to him, the plaintiff would be helpless even if the suit is restored by the trial Court or is decreed on appeal. Order 38, Rule 9 has been couched in peremptory language and there appears to be good reason for its being so couched. The idea appears to be that when a suit is dismissed, the defendant should make an application to the Court for the' withdrawal of the attachment and it would be in the discretion of the Court not to grant such an application until the period for filing an application for setting aside the ex parte order expires, or when the suit has been dismissed on merits, until the time for filing an appeal expires. Such a course would obviate the difficulty I have pointed out above. It is true that some little inconvenience would be caused to the defendant in applying for obtaining an express order of withdrawal of attachment when the plaintiff's suit has been dismissed. But as against that, the loss caused to the plaintiff would be irreparable if the attachment lapses without specific order of the Court. Moreover, even if the order of attachment remains in force after the suit has been dismissed for want of specific order of withdrawal by the Court, it would not cause much injury to the defendant, because there would be no decree against him in satisfaction of which the property attached can be sold. Of course he might find some difficulty when he wants to dispose of the property. But that difficulty can be overcome by seeking an express order of withdrawal from the Court. If this procedure, is not followed, the plaintiff might suffer an injury for which there would be no redress. I do not think the legislature contemplated such a result.
21. In the circumstances I see no reason why the mandatory language of Rule 9, Order 38 should be interpreted in a permissive or directory manner. For this reason I would prefer to follow the Full Bench decision of AIR 1952 Trav Co 414 (FB).
22. In the instant case the defendant had disposed of the house in question afterthe suit had been restored. Since no order had been passed withdrawing the attachment, the same, in my opinion, continued and the transfer of the house during the pendency of the suit was unauthorised.
23. I would accordingly allow the appeal with costs.
BY THE COURT
24. In view of the majority opinion the appeal is dismissed. Costs on parties.