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Bhagwan Swarup Vs. Municipal Board, Ujhani and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectLimitation
CourtAllahabad High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCivil Revn. No. 448 of 1969
Judge
Reported inAIR1970All652
ActsLimitation Act, 1963 - Sections 4, 5, 12 and 14
AppellantBhagwan Swarup
RespondentMunicipal Board, Ujhani and ors.
Appellant AdvocateSirish Prasad, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateN. Lal, Adv.
DispositionRevision dismissed
Excerpt:
limitation - period of limitation - sections 4, 12 and 14 of limitation act, 1963 - appeal barred by time - delay in getting copy of decree - sufficient reason for condonation of delay - filing of appeal can be allowed by court. - - (2) in computing the period of limitation for an appeal or an application for leave to appeal or for revision or for review of a judgment, the day on which the judgment complained of was pronounced and the time requisite for obtaining a copy of the decree, sentence or order appealed from or sought to be revised or reviewed shall be excluded. onkar pratap narain singh were no longer good law. shankar narain, (1901) ilr 25 bom 586. before adverting to the decision of their lordships of the privy council mentioned above, we should like to point out the..........nothing to do with computing the prescribed period. what the section provides is that, where the period prescribed expires on a day when the court is closed, notwithstanding that fact, the application may be made on the day that the court reopens; so that there is nothing in the section which alters the length of the prescribed period; whereas in section 14 and other sections of a similar nature in the act, the direction being with the words: 'in computing the period of limitation prescribed for any application,' certain periods shall be excluded. it, therefore seems to their lordships that, where there is ground for excluding certain periods under section 14, in order to ascertain what is the date of the expiration of the prescribed period, the days excluded from operating by way of.....
Judgment:

Verma, J.

1. This application in revision came up for hearing before Oak, C. J. and S. N. Singh, J. They have referred it to a Full Bench because of a conflict between two Division Benches of this Court-- Siyadat-un-nissa v. Muhammad Mahmud, (1897) ILR 19 All 342 and Mukat Beharilal Agarwal v. Addl. District Magistrate Bareilly : AIR1959All699 .

2. The question involved in the case is one of limitation and it arises in this way. The applicant Bhagwan Swarup filed a suit against the opposite parties for the recovery of Es. 600 by way of damages on the allegation that he had been maliciously retrenched from his position as Commanding Officer of No. 229, U. P. N. C. C. R. Company of Municipal Intermediate College, Ujhani. The learned Munsif decreed the suit of the applicant against defendants nos. 1 and 2 on May 25, 1967. The Civil Courts closed for the summer vacation on June 2, 1967 and reopened after the vacation on July 3, 1967. The application for copies of the judgment and decree was made on the same date, that is to say on, July 3, 1967. Copies were ready and delivered on July 5, 1967 and the appeal was filed on July 6, 1967.

3. A preliminary point was raised before the learned Civil Judge of Budaun to the effect that the appeal was barred by time The learned Civil Judge, relying upon the cases of Udairaj Singh v. Jugal Kishore Mehra, 1956 All WR 737, Munshi Mohton v. Lachmanlal, AIR 1929 Pat 615 and Debi Charan Lal v. Mehdi Husam AIR 1916 Pat 317, held that the appeal was within limitation. Hence this application in revision.

4. The relevant sections of the Indian Limitation Act, 1963 (hereinafter referred to as the 'Act') are Sections 4 and 12. They are reproduced below:--

4. 'Where the prescribed period for any suit, appeal or application expires on a day when the Court is closed, the suit, appeal or application may be instituted, preferred or made on the day when the Court re-opens.

Explanation-- A Court shall be deemed to be closed on any day within the meaning of this section if during any part of its normal working hours it remains closed on that day.'

12. '(1) In computing the period of limitation for any suit, appeal or application, the day from which such period is to be reckoned, shall be excluded.

(2) In computing the period of limitation For an appeal or an application for leave to appeal or for revision or for review of a judgment, the day on which the judgment complained of was pronounced and the time requisite for obtaining a copy of the decree, sentence or order appealed from or sought to be revised or reviewed shall be excluded.

(3) Where a decree or order is appealed from or sought to be revised or reviewed, or where an application is made for leave, to appeal from a decree or order, the time requisite for obtaining a copy of the judgment on which the decree or order is founded shall also be excluded.

(4) In computing the period of limitation for an application to set aside an award, the time requisite for obtaining a copy of tile award shall be excluded.

Explanation -- In computing under this section the time requisite for obtaining a copy of a decree or an order, any time taken by the court to prepare the decree or order before an application for a copy thereof is made shall not be excluded.'

5. In (1897) ILR 19 All 342, a Division Bench of this Court, on facts similar to the facts of the present case, came to the conclusion that the appeal was within time. In : AIR1959All699 another Division Bench came to the conclusion that the cases decided prior to the decision of their Lordships of the Privy Council in Maqbul Ahmad v. Onkar Pratap Narain Singh were no longer good law. Some of these cases were cited before the Division Bench and they are-- (1897) ILR 19 All 342; Tukaram Gopal v. Pandurang Sadaram, (1901) ILR 25 Bom 584, and Pandharinath Sakha-ram v. Shankar Narain, (1901) ILR 25 Bom 586. Before adverting to the decision of their Lordships of the Privy Council mentioned above, we should like to point out the difference between Section 4 and Sections 12 and 14 of the Act. The language of Section 4 pre-supposes that the period of limitation has already expired but it has expired on a day when the court was closed, and it provides that, despite the fact that limitation has expired, the suit, appeal or application may be instituted, preferred or made on the day on which the court reopens. There is nothing in Section 4 of the Act on the basis of which it could be said that it has the effect of extending or enlarging the period of limitation. The language of Sections 12 and 14, however, clearly provides for the extension of the period of limitation and, therefore, the period contemplated by Sections 12 and 14 must be added to the period of limitation prescribed by the Act and if, after this addition, limitation expires on a day when the court is closed, the suit, appeal or application may be filed on the reopening day. In Maqbul Ahmad's case, their Lordships of the Privy Council said this:--

'The second period is the period of the long vacation. In regard to that matter, the appellants seem to their Lordships to be in a position which is in the nature of & dilemma. It is to be noted that there is a marked distinction in form between Section 4 and Section 14. The language employed in Section 4 indicates that it has nothing to do with computing the prescribed period. What the section provides is that, where the period prescribed expires on a day when the Court is closed, notwithstanding that fact, the application may be made on the day that the Court reopens; so that there is nothing in the section which alters the length of the prescribed period; whereas in Section 14 and other sections of a similar nature in the Act, the direction being with the words: 'In computing the period of limitation prescribed for any application,' certain periods shall be excluded. It, therefore seems to their Lordships that, where there is ground for excluding certain periods under Section 14, in order to ascertain what is the date of the expiration of the prescribed period, the days excluded from operating by way of limitation have to be added to what is primarily the prescribed period; that is to say, if the prescribed period is three years, and twenty days ought to be excluded in order to determine when the prescribed period expires, twenty days have to be added to the three years, and the date of the expiration of the prescribed period is thus ascertained.'

6. The decision of the Judicial Committee mentioned above has been followed by large number of High Courts in this country. See Puran Chand v. Abdullah : AIR1938All606 ; Mst. Shayam Peare v. Ram Autar Singh : AIR1939All252 ; Raja Pande v. Sheopuran Pande, AIR 1942 All 429 (FB); Shanti Prakash v. Harnam Das, AIR 1938 Lab 234 (FB); Bhawani Cloth Mills Ltd, v. Parme-shwari Doss, AIR 1947 Lah 168; Avasarala Kamaraju Pantulu v. Balla Saramma, AIR 1942 Mad 604; S. N. Jayarama Aiyar v. S. Rajagopalan : AIR1965Mad459 ; Shivjiram Dhannalal Marwadi v. Gulabchand Kalooram Marwadi, AIR 1941 Nag 100; Chudamansao Nishramsao v. Ram Kuwar Birajlal, AIR 1948 Nag 15; Sadashivrao Gangadhar v. Ramchandra Bhawan Bhagwat, AIR 1954 Madh Bha 18; Kanhaiyalal v. Ram Kishan, : AIR1966MP340 ; Ram Manorath v. Ram Bhulawan, AIR 1947 Ondh 3; Karim Ismail v. Abdul Rahiman : AIR1953Bom353 ; Municipal Councillors of Puri Municipality v. Madhusudhan Das Mohapatra, : AIR1961Ori133 ; C. Raghavendra Rao v. Vasavamba AIR 1960 Mys 216. In Dhanna Mistry v. Bengal Nagpur Rly, Co. Ltd., AIR 1934 Pat 367, it was laid down and, in our view, correctly, that the period of limitation should be computed first and, if Section 12 or other similar sections permit the exclusion of any period, that period should be added to the prescribed period of limitation and if the total period thus arrived at, expires on a day when the court is closed, Section 4 of the Act would come into play. To us, it appears that the law has been correctly laid down in the impressive array of authorities enumerated above. A plain reading of Section 4 on the one hand and Sections 12, 14 and other similar sections on the other, makes the conclusion at which the above mentioned authorities have arrived, inevitable.

7. Mr. N. Lal, learned counsel for the opposite parties, has relied upon the following cases: (1901) ILR 25 Bom 584; (1901) ILR 25 Bom 586; and of course. (1897) ILR 19 All 342; Smt. Kamala Sundari Dassi v. Sridam Chandra : AIR1954Cal569 ; Saminatha Ayyar v. Venkatasubba Ayyar, (1904) ILR 27 Mad 21; Ganga Prasad v. Raghubir Prasad, 1962 All LJ 1149; Abdul Ghaffor v. Mt. Rasulunnis, AIR 1923 Oudh 39; Sukhanandan Prasad Shukla v. Raja Ahmad Ali Khan ; Budhu v. Sultan, AIR 1914 All 303; Asa Singh v. Hira Singh, AIR 1938 Lah 317; Ma Dan v. Tan Chong San, AIR 1929 Rang 96 (1) and Ramcharan Shukul v. Sri Thakurjee Mandil Dar Kadhis, AIR 1931 Pat 60. The cases prior to Maqbul Ahmad's case must be deemed to be no longer good law. As regards the cases after that, Maqbul Ahmad's case was never considered in them. In : AIR1959All699 was cited but was not really considered and the Privy Council decision in Maqbul Ahmad's case upon which Mukat Behari Lal's case : AIR1959All699 was based, was not noticed. As regards Mukat Behari Lal's case : AIR1959All699 the learned Judge (Mithan Lal J,) just disposed it of in one sentence:

'The case of Mukat Behari Lal is also based on the same footing and so that too does not lend any support to the views of the learned counsel for the opposite party.'

AIR 1938 Lah 317 is a single Judge decision and in the same volume is a Full Bench decision to the contrary already mentioned by us above. The Calcutta decision in : AIR1954Cal569 proceeds on the footing that Section 4 of the Act extends the period of limitation which is directly in the teeth of the decision of the Judicial Committee in Maqbul Ahmad's case which was never noticed by the learned Judges of the Calcutta High Court.

8. Strong reliance was placed by Mr. N. Lal on a decision of their Lordships of the Supreme Court in State of Uttar Pradesh v. Maharaja Narain : 1968CriLJ1132 . This was a case under Section 12(2) of the Act and the effect of Section 4 was never considered. Their Lordships have held that Section 12(2) of the Act enlarges the period of limitation prescribed under Entry 157 of Schedule I. That section simply permits the appellant to deduct from the time taken in filing the appeal the time requisite for obtaining the copy of the order appealed from. This decision, therefore, is clearly distinguishable and has no application to the facto and to the question of law that arises in the present case.

9. Mr. N. Lal also relied upon an un-reported decision of a Division Bench of this Court in Second Appeal No. 420 of 1967 (All) Dudhnath Dube v. Prakhu Dube decided by Kajeshwari Prasad and A. K. Kirty, JJ. on April 19, 1968. In this case, the learned Judges took the view that Mukat Behari Lal's case : AIR1959All699 , was a decision under the Limitation Act of 1908 and it was no longer good law in view of the definition of 'period of limitation' and 'prescribed period' given in the Act of 1963. They also thought that the difference in the phraseology of Sections 3 and 4 of the old Act and Sections 3 and 4 of the new Act led to the same conclusion. They pointed out that, under the new Act, dismissal on the ground of limitation would be entailed as a result of the filing of the suit, appeal or application after the prescribed period and not after the period of limitation prescribed by the first Schedule. We fail to see any difference justifying this conclusion, 'period of limitation' has been defined as period of limitation prescribed for any suit, appeal or application by the Schedule and 'prescribed period' has been defined as the period of limitation computed in accordance with the provisions of the new Act. The language employed in Section 4 of the new Act indicates just as the language of Section 4 of the old Act indicated, that it has nothing to do with computing the prescribed period. The language of Section 4 of the new Act does not extend or enlarge the period of limitation any more than the language of Section 4 of the old Act did. Consequently : AIR1959All699 and the other cases in which the same view has been taken, are, in our opinion, still good law, despite the change in the phraseology of Sections 3 and 4 of the new Act and the cases relied upon by Mr. N. Lal in which a contrary view has been taken, do not lay down the correct law, Under the new Act too, the prescribed period will be computed not in accordance with Section 4 of the Act, but in accordance with Sections 12 and 14 and other similar sections. We, therefore, respectfully disagree with the conclusions arrived at by the Division Bench in the unreported decision mentioned above.

10. Mr. N. Lal has argued that the view that we have taken is bound to result in hardship and injustice in individual cases. His contention is that a person, who wants to file an appeal, is entitled to have full 30 days for filing the appeal and, if for want of funds or other reasons, he has to wait up to the 30th day, and if that day happens to be a day on which the court is closed, his appeal would be barred by time for no fault of his. Our short answer to this argument is that in appropriate cases the appellate Court will extend the benefit of Section 5 of the Indian Limitation Act and condone the delay in filing the appeal.

11. Our conclusion, therefore, is that, technically, the appeal filed in the court below was barred by limitation. The question, however, is whether this is a fit case for interference in revision. In view of the conflicting decisions mentioned above, the defendant No. 1, Municipal Board of Ujhani, could very well have been misled into thinking that copies could be applied for on the reopening of the civil courts after the vacation and the time requisite for obtaining the copies would be excluded and its appeal would be within limitation. This would, therefore, have been a perfectly good ground for condoning the delay in firing the appeal under Section 5 of the Act. We, therefore, decline to interfere in revision.

12. This application in revision is dismissed, but we make no order as to costs.


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