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Shitla Prasad and ors. Vs. Bans Bahore and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectLimitation
CourtAllahabad High Court
Decided On
Case NumberSpecial Appeal No. 244 of 1969
Judge
Reported inAIR1974All197
ActsUttar Pradesh Zamindari Abolition and Land Reforms Act, 1950 - Sections 5, 6, 209 and 341; Limitation Act, 1908 - Sections 6 and 29(2); Uttar Pradesh Zamindari Abolition and Land Reforms (Amendment) Act, 1958
AppellantShitla Prasad and ors.
RespondentBans Bahore and ors.
Appellant AdvocateJagdish Misra and ;Rajeshwari Prasad, Advs.
Respondent AdvocateR.S. Misra, Adv. and ;R.S. Verma, Standing Counsel
Excerpt:
.....6. the only difficulty which still remains to be overcome is the one created by section 29 of the limitation act, the relevant portion of which reads as under: it is a well known principle of interpretation of statutes that the general provisions such as those contained in the limitation act do not derogate from special provisions. when the intention of the legislature is clearly disclosed it would be verging on absurdity to attempt to apply section 29 (2) (b) to the special or local law. narada smriti emphatically states that women's property and state property are not lost even after hundreds of years, when they are enjoyed without title......that the general provisions such as those contained in the limitation act do not derogate from special provisions. on the other hand, the provisions of the special act do derogate from the former. thus, in jagdeo singh v. babu lal sah, air 1941 pat 499 it was held that irrespective of the provisions of section 29 (2) of the limitation act, 1908 the provisions of all the sections of limitation act except sections 7, 8 and 9 of the same would apply to the bihar tenancy act. it cannot be gainsaid that the u. p. zamindari abolition and land reforms act is a local op special act. the preamble says:'whereas it is expedient to provide for the abolition of the zamindari system which involves intermediaries between the tiller of the soil and the state in the uttar pradesh and for the.....
Judgment:

M.N. Shukla, J.

1. Because of a conflict between two single Judge decisions of this Court Raghubir Singh v. Board of Revenue, 1966 All LJ 686 and Bans Bahore v. State of U. P. : AIR1970All353 , this special appeal was referred to a larger Bench and eventually came before us for hearing. The following question was referred to the Full Bench for decision:

'Whether under Section 341 of the U. P. Zamindari Abolition and Land Reforms Act, Section 6 of the Limitation Act, 1908 would be applicable to a suit under Section 209 in the absence of any express provision in Section 341 making Section 6 applicable?'

In the case of Raghubir Singh it was held by S. N. Singh, J., that the provisions of Section 6 of the Limitation Act were not applicable to a suit under Section 209 of the U. P. Zamindari Abolition and Land Reforms Act (hereinafter referred to as the Act) because Section 341 of the Act merely extended the Limitation Act to proceedings under the Act but inasmuch the whole of the Limitation Act was made to apply, the provisions of Section 29 (2) of the Limitation Act also became applicable with the result that Section 6 of the Limitation Act could not apply to proceedings under the Act. On the other hand, a contrary view was taken by K. N. Srivastava, J., in Bans Bahore's case. He relied on an unreported Division Bench decision of this Court in Chhote v. Board of Revenue, U. P., Allahabad, Civil Misc. Writ No. 768 of 1961, D/-28-8-1961 (All). In the unreported decision the Bench after summing up the entire argument stated its conclusion in the following Words:

'We have heard learned counsel for the petitioners who has urged that two points arise in this petition. One point according to him is that Section 6 of the Limitation Act has been wrongly applied by the Board of Revenue to the suit of which the proceedings went up before the Board. Section 341 of the U. P. Zamindari and Land Reforms Act clearly applies all the provisions of the Limitation Act to proceedings under that Act. From the circumstances that under the Rules framed under the U. P. Zamindari Abolition and Land Reforms Act the period of limitation for various kinds of suits and the time from which period of limitation starts running are prescribed no inference follows that the provisions of exceptional nature contained in Section 6 of the Limitation Act have become inapplicable. Since Section 341 of the U. P. Zamindari Abolition and Land Reforms Act in clear terms applied the whole of the Limitation Act to proceedings under the former Act the decision of the Board of Revenue that Section 6 of the Limitation Act was applicable is perfectly correct.'

Section 341 of the Act reads as follows:--

'Unless otherwise expressly provided by or under this Act, the provisions of the Indian Court Fees Act, 1870, Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, and the Indian Limitation Act, 1908 including Section 5 thereof, shall apply to proceedings under this Act.'

A plain reading of the above section shows that the entire Limitation Act was made applicable to the Act. This would naturally include Sections 6 and 29 of the Indian Limitation Act around which the controversy in the present case hovers. Section 6 of the Limitation Act is in the following terms:--

'6. Legal disability. -- (1) Where a per-son entitled to institute a suit or make an application for the execution of a decree is, at the time from which the period of limitation is to be reckoned, a minor, or insane, or an idiot, he may institute the suit or make the application within the same period after the disability has ceased, as would otherwise have been allowed from the time prescribed therefor in third column of the first schedule.

(2) Where such person is, at the time from which the period of limitation is to be reckoned, affected by two such disabilities, or where, before his disability has ceased, he is affected by another disability, he may institute the suit or make the application within the same period, after both disabilities have ceased, as would otherwise have been allowed from the time so prescribed.

(3) Where the disability continues up to the death of such person, his legal representative may institute the suit or make the application within the same period after the death as would otherwise have been allowed from the time so prescribed.

(4) Where such representative is at the date of the death affected by any such disability, the rules contained in Sub-sections (1) and (2) shall apply.'

Section 6 is a very salutary provision in the Limitation Act which mitigates the rigour of that statute. The scheme of the Limitation Act is that as a general rule suits and other proceedings instituted after the lapse of the period prescribed by the first schedule should be barred but this general rule enacted in Section 3 is subject to the exception that in certain special circumstances, which have been defined in different provisions of the Act a suit or other proceeding, though instituted after the lapse of the period so prescribed, should not be time-barred. Section 6 is one of the provisions which extend the period of limitation laid down by the first schedule. The ground on which the extension is given is the disability of the person entitled to sue or apply. The clear effect of Section 341 of the Act is to press into service the provisions of Section 6 of the Limitation Act. The difficulty, however, is presented on account of another provision in the Limitation Act, namely, Section 29 which requires a careful scrutiny and seems to apparently restrict the applicability of the Limitation Act to local or special law to the extent of the sections enumerated in Section 29.

2. It was contended on behalf of the appellants that even in the language of Section 341 of the Act there was some indication that the intendment of the Legislature was not to apply the Limitation Act in its entirety to proceedings under the Act. The foundation of this argument was the use of the expression 'including Section 5 thereof' in Section 341 of the Act. It was argued that if the Legislature had intended to apply the whole of the Limitation Act to proceedings under the Act there would have been no need to refer expressly to Section 5 in Section 341. On the other hand, the omission of Section 6 of the Limitation Act in the aforesaid provision was consistent with the intention not to make Section 6 applicable to proceedings under the Act, This argument is untenable. Section 5 appears to have been specifically mentioned in Section 341 of the Act only for the sake of emphasis and it cannot even remotely be construed as having the effect of excluding the applicability of the other provisions of the Limitation Act. In fact, it seems to have been added merely with a view to allaying the possible misgivings which might arise with regard to the applicability of Section 5. It appears that judicial interpretation of Section 341, without containing any reference to Section 5 of the Limitation Act, could perhaps sometimes arrive at the conclusion that Section 5 was not applicable to proceedings under the Act; by specific mention of this section, therefore, the possibility of the construction has been ruled out. The words 'including Section 5 thereof' were not to be found in Section 341 of the Act as it stood In 1952. The possibility of that interpretation is clearly reflected in the observations of R. Singh, J., in State of U. P. v. Pt. B. M. N. Kaul, 1958 All LJ 119. In that case the argument that Section 5 of the Limitation Act was inapplicable to a proceeding under the Act was repelled by the learned Judge only on the ground that the period of limitation provided under that Act for filing second appeals did not differ from that provided under the Limitation Act and hence it was held that the provisions of Section 29 (2) of the Limitation Act were not attracted. That decision illustrates the possibility of taking a view that Section 5 of the Limitation Act would not be applicable in case the period of limitation prescribed under the Act differed from the one prescribed under the Limitation Act. That judgment was tendered on 13-11-1957. The words 'including Section 5 thereof' were added to Section 341 of the Act by Section 82 of the Uttar Pradesh Land Reforms (Amendment) Act, 1958 (U. P. Act No. XXXVII of 1958) with effect from 7-11-1958. The addition of these words, therefore, should not raise any doubt about the applicability of Section 6 of the Limitation Act to proceedings under the Act

3. Moreover, it is a well-settled principle of judicial interpretation that the words 'and include' and 'or include' are expressions of extension and not restrictive; they import addition. As pointed out by Sri Jag-dish Swarup in his book 'Legislation and Interpretation' at page 170 (first edition).

'The word 'include' or 'shall be deemed to include' is very generally used in interpretation clause in order to change the meaning of words or phrases occurring in the body of the statute, or where it is intended that while the term defined shall retain its ordinary meaning its scope should be widened by specific enumeration of certain matters which its ordinary meaning may or may not comprise so as to make the definition enumerative and not exhaustive, and when it is so used, the words or phrases must be considered as comprehending not only such things as they signify according to their natural import, but also those things which the interpretation clause declares that they shall include.'

Therefore, when the words 'including Section 5 thereof' are introduced in Section 341 of the Act they do not connote that the section would not retain its ordinary meaning which it would have borne, bereft of those words.

4. The learned Counsel for the appellants sought support from a Division Bench ruling of this Court in Chandra Pal v. Board of Revenue, 1957 All LJ 817 where after interpreting Section 29 of the Limitation Act it was held that the benefit of the exception contained in Section 6 thereof could not be availed of in a suit under the U. P. Tenancy Act as Section 6 has been expressly withheld by the Legislature from persons proceeding under local and Special Acts. It may, however, be observed that in the U. P. Tenancy Act there was no provision analogous to Section 341 of the Act. In the earlier Tenancy Law the Limitation Act was not applied to it, except so far as mentioned by it. In the U. P. Tenancy Act only Section 5 of the Limitation Act was made applicable to proceedings under the former Act vide Section 253 thereof. It was, therefore, held In the case of Chandra Pal (supra) that Section 6 of the Limitation Act did not apply to a suit under the U. P. Tenancy Act.

5. The U. P. Zamindari Abolition and Land Reforms Act radically reoriented the attitude of the Government with regard to the status of agricultural tenants. Thus, for instance, heritable and transferable rights were conferred on one class of tenants such as bhumidhars. They were, therefore, no longer mere birds of passage; they acquired stability. Their rights, being of a more abiding and substantial character, merited meticulous legislative attention. Such rights acquired added importance on account of the fact that under the Act it became possible for other tenants also to acquire bhumidhari rights by depositing ten times land revenue. All this naturally called for greater protection of such tenancy rights by the Legislature. It seems, therefore, legitimate to infer that perhaps it was in pursuance of that underlying policy that the whole of the Limitation Act was made applicable to the Act and as soon as some courts expressed the view that Section 5 did not apply to proceedings under the Act the Legislature lost no time in suitably amending the provisions of Section 341 of the Act so as to put it beyond doubt that even Section 5 of the Limitation Act applied to proceedings under the Act.

6. The only difficulty which still remains to be overcome is the one created by Section 29 of the Limitation Act, the relevant portion of which reads as under:

'Section 29

(1) ................................................

(2) Where any special or local law prescribes for any suit, appeal or application a period of limitation different from the period prescribed therefor by the first schedule, the provisions of Section 3 shall apply, as if such period were prescribed therefor in that schedule, and for the purpose of determining any period of limitation prescribed for any suit, appeal or application by any special or local law--

(a) the provisions contained in Section 4, Sections 9 to 18, and Section 22 shall apply in so far as, and to the extent to which, they are not expressly excluded by such special or local law; and

(b) the remaining provisions of this Act shall not apply.'

The learned Counsel for the appellants placed his main reliance on clause (b) of Section 29 (2) of the Limitation Act which says:

'the remaining provisions of this Act shall not apply.'

It was contended that in the teeth of such prohibition there could be no justification for importing the other provisions of the Limitation Act, including Section 6. (save those enumerated in Section 29 of the Limitation Act) into the proceedings under the Act. This was the view expressed in Raghubir Singh's case, 1966 All LJ 686 (supra) but the learned single Judge did not take into consideration the fundamental rule of construction that a special Act prevails against a general Act where the two are inconsistent That argument does not seem to have been advanced before him. It is a well known principle of interpretation of statutes that the general provisions such as those contained in the Limitation Act do not derogate from special provisions. On the other hand, the provisions of the special Act do derogate from the former. Thus, in Jagdeo Singh v. Babu Lal Sah, AIR 1941 Pat 499 it was held that irrespective of the provisions of Section 29 (2) of the Limitation Act, 1908 the provisions of all the sections of Limitation Act except Sections 7, 8 and 9 of the same would apply to the Bihar Tenancy Act. It cannot be gainsaid that the U. P. Zamindari Abolition and Land Reforms Act is a local op special Act. The preamble says:

'Whereas it is expedient to provide for the abolition of the Zamindari system which involves intermediaries between the tiller of the soil and the State in the Uttar Pradesh and for the acquisition of their rights, title and interest and to reform the law relating to land tenure consequent on such abolition and acquisition and to make provision for other matters connected therewith,

It is hereby enacted as follows.'

It has been held in numerous decisions of this Court that the said Act is a local Act.

7. Another rule of interpretation which can be successfully invoked by the, respondents is that if a special or local law is a complete code in the matter of limitation or if the phraseology used in the relevant provision such as Section 341 of the local or special Act is quite clear, the application of Section 29 (2) (b) of the Limitation Act to the special or local law must be deemed to have been excluded by the Legislature. There would be no justification for circumscribing the applicability of the Limitation Act in such circumstances. When the intention of the Legislature is clearly disclosed it would be verging on absurdity to attempt to apply Section 29 (2) (b) to the special or local law. We are fortified in our opinion by the view expressed by a Full Bench of this Court Raja Pande v. Sheo-pujan Pande AIR 1942 All 429 (FB). The U. P. Zamindari Abolition and Land Reforms Act is a self contained Act, or, in other words, 'a complete code'. That the Act is self-contained so far as the procedure to be followed in the proceedings under the Act is concerned admits of no doubt. Section 331 of the Act lays down the complete procedure under the Act. Similarly Section 341 demonstrates that the Act is self-contained in the matter of limitation also with respect to proceedings contemplated by the Act. Therefore, Section 341 of the Act must be given its full play and its ambit should not be artificially restricted by reference to Section 29 (2) (b) of the Limitation Act. The clear words 'the Indian Limitation Act, 1908, including Section 5 thereof, shall apply to proceedings under this Act' used in Section 341 in our opinion are proof positive of the intention of the Legislature to forbid recourse to Section 29 (2) (b) of the Limitation Act for the purpose of ascertaining as to whether the benefit of Section 6 of the Limitation Act should be extended to proceedings under that special or local law. The intention of the Legislature to apply the entire Limitation Act to proceedings under the Act is unambiguous. Hence, we cannot look to anything outside Section 341 of the Act itself for finding out the exceptions to or restrictions on its scope.

8. We also find force in the respondents submission that clause (b) of Section 29 (2) of the Limitation Act should be construed to mean that the remaining provisions of the Limitation Act shall not apply unless they are expressly applied by a special or local law. That was the view adopted by this Court in Chheda Lal Jain v. Officer Commanding the Station Meerut : AIR1941All207 and that is the view which commends itself to us. The correctness of this inference is demonstrated by a reference to the legislative history of Section 29 of the Indian Limitation Act. The section as it stood before its amendment in 1922 was as follows:--

'(2) Nothing in this Act shall-- (a) affect the Indian Contract Act, 1872, Section 25.

(b) affect or alter any period of limitation specially prescribed for any suit, appeal or application by any special or local law now or hereafter in force in British India.

(2) Nothing in this Act shall apply to suits under the Indian Divorce Act.

(3) Sections 26 and 27 and the definition 'easement' in Section 2 shall not apply to cases arising in territories to which the Indian Easements Act, 1882, may for the time being extend.'

The effect of the amendment of the said section by the Act of 1922 came up for consideration in Chheda Lal Jain's case (supra) and the following observations made in that Connection may be reproduced:

'In view of the amendment effected in Section 29 of the Indian Limitation Act, 1908, by the Act of 1922 the situation stands slightly altered, because as the section originally stood it laid down that the provisions of the Act did not affect or alter any rule of limitation prescribed in any special or local Act. The second sub-section to Section 29 now says that the periods of Limitation prescribed by special or local laws shall be regarded as prescribed by that Act for the purpose of Section 3 and that section and Other sections, namely, Section 4, Sections 9 to 18 and Section 22 shall apply unless they are expressly excluded by the special or local Act and that 'the remaining provisions of this Act shall not apply.' The last phrase can only mean that the remaining provisions of the Act shall not apply unless they are expressly made applicable by the special or local Act. Under the old Section 29 none of the provisions of the Limitation Act were applicable unless they were expressly included by the special or local Act. The amendment to Section 29 of the Limitation Act in 1922 has extended and not restricted the scope. Under the new Section 29 some of the provisions of the Indian Limitation Act are made applicable without being expressly included unless they are expressly excluded by the special or local Act. The rest of the provisions remain as before applicable only when they are expressly included.'

Bajpai, J., with whose opinion we respectfully find ourselves in agreement, stated his conclusion thus:

'The expression 'the remaining provisions of this Act shall not apply' in the amended Section 29 simply means that they are not to apply proprio vigore, that is, merely by virtue of the Limitation Act itself, and that if they are to apply, the grounds for applying them must be found in the special or local Act itself.'

Hence, where the language of Section 341 of the Act is unmistakably clear Section 29 (2) (b) of the Limitation Act cannot curb or whittle down its amplitude.

9. We are also inclined to lean in favour of an interpretation which has the effect of promoting a remedy and advancing the cause of justice. All systems of jurisprudence throw a mantle of protection round the interests of minors and persons of unsound mind and those similarly situate and provide longer periods for loss of their rights. The ancient Roman Law recognised a number of exceptions to the general rule of limitation. Under the Civil Laws of Rome the rule was 'nullum tempus occurrit regi' (lapse of time does not bar the right of the Crown). Even the ancient Hindu jurisprudence admitted several exceptions to the rule of loss of ownership of property by long possession. Thus, the Smriti of Katyayana stated the following exceptions to the rule of loss by long possession:

'........... a mortgaged or pledged property, boundary, minor's property, an open deposit, a sealed deposit, women (female slaves), the property of the king i.e., (of the State) and the property of a brahman learned in the Veda. .........'

Yajnavalkya-smriti adds to the above the properties of idiots and of women. Narada Smriti emphatically states that women's property and state property are not lost even after hundreds of years, when they are enjoyed without title. The Mitakshara on the Yajnavalkya-smriti gives reasons why the several exceptions are made and says:

'Idiots and minors are ignorant or incapable of understanding their rights, the king being engrossed in numerous state affairs may not be able in time to look into the question about possession of state properties, women on account of their ignorance and timidity may not assert their rights and a learned brahman being devoted to learning, teaching and performance of rites and duties may have no time to go to law.'

Nothing in modern times has transpired to warrant a deviation from that time-honoured principle of law.

10. Thus, with due deference we are unable to agree with the view expressed in 1966 All LJ 686 (supra) and we are respectfully of the view that the cases of Bans Bahore v. State of U. P. : AIR1970All353 and Chhote v. Board of Revenue, C. M. W. No. 768 of 1961, D/-28-8-1961 (All) (supra) lay down the correct law. Therefore, our answer to the question referred to us is that under Section 341 of the U. P. Zamindari Abolition and Land Reforms Act Section 6 of the Limitation Act, 1908, would be applicable to a suit under Section 209 even in the absence of any express provision in Section 341 making Section 6 applicable. With the above answer we direct that the papers of this case may be laid before Hon'ble the Chief Justice for being sent back to the appropriate Bench for decision of the special Appeal on merits.

K.B. Asthana, J.

I agree and have nothing to add.

R.B. Mishra, J.

So do I.


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