M.C. Desai, J.
1. This is an application for revising under Section 25 of the Small Cause Courts Act a decree passed by a Court of small causes. The decree was passed on 27-4-1957 in a suit instituted in 1956 in the Court of Small Causes. Section 25 of the Small Cause Courts Act as it then existed laid down that the High Court for the purposes of satisfying itself that a decree or order made in any case decided by a Court of small causes was according to law, might call for the case and pass such order with respect thereto as it thought fit.
The U. P. Legislature passed the Provincial Small Cause Courts (U. P. Amendment) Act (No. 17 of 1957), which amended Section 25 by substituting the words 'the District Judge' in place of the words 'the High Court', 'himself' for the word 'itself' and 'he' for 'it'. The U. P. Act received the President's assent on 30-5-1957 and was published in the Gazette of 4-6-1957. It was to come into force at once; so it came into force on 4-6-1957. The present application was filed in this Court on 27-7-1957 and a preliminary objection has been raised by the opposite party to its maintainability.
The opposite party pleads that after the amendment of Section 25 no application for revision can be filed in this Court and that this application ought to have been filed in the Court of the District Judge. In reply it was contended by the applicant that on the date on which the suit was instituted and on the date on which it was decreed against it, an application for revision could have been filed in this Court and that the right of the party to file an application in this Court remained unaffected by the subsequent amendment.
It is not in dispute that if the case is governed by the law in force on the date on which the application was filed, it could not be filed in this Court and ought to have been filed in the District Judge's Court and that if it is governed by the law in force at the time of the institution of the suit or at the time of its being decreed, the application would lie in this Court. The Amendment Act does not say anything, about its effect or enforcement except that it was to come into force at once.
The obvious meaning of the Act coming into force on 4-6-1957, the date of its publication, is that on and after that date the District Judge has the power of calling for a case decided by a Court of Small Causes and revising a decree or order made by it. There is nothing in the Amendment Act to suggest that it would not apply to a case instituted or decided before it came into force and it would not be open to us to read any such qualification in it. The law in force on 27-7-1957 was that he District Judge had the power to revise the order and there was no law in force under which this Court would have the power. Previously this Court had the power, but it was taken away by the Amendment Act before the application was filed.
2. All the law governing the question is contained in Section 6 of the U. P. General Clauses Act. It deals with the effect of repeal of Acts. Admittedly it does not deal expressly with the effect of amendment of an Act, but there is no other law which lays down the effect of amendment of an Act. It cannot be believed that the Legislature provided for the effect of repeal of Acts but did not make any provision for amendment of Acts.
Amendment of an Act is certainly not an uncommon or unimportant matter which need not be provided for; I venture to suppose that amendment of an Act is more frequent than repeal of an Act. The question of the effect of an amendment is not different from that of the effect of repeal of an Act and is certainly as important as tbe other. If it cannot be accepted that the Legislature did not provide for the effect of amendment of an Act, the effect must have been provided for in Section 6. Amendment of an Act consists of two steps,
(1) of repeal of the provision amended and
(2) of enactment of the provision in the amended form.
Take the amendment in question; the law empowering the High Court to call for the case and revise the decree or order has been repealed and in its place the law empowering the District Judge to call for the case and revise the decree or order has been enacted. Thus the amendment consists of repeal followed immediately by enactment of another provision. So far as it involves repeal, the effect of the repeal is governed by the provisions of Section 6.
In Danmal Parshotamdas v. Baburam Chhotelal : AIR1936All3 ; Sulaiman C. J. said at page 7 :
'It seems that Section 6 (e) would apply to those cases only where a previous law has been simply repealed and there is no fresh legislation to take its place. Where an old law has been merely repealed, then the repeal Would not affect any previous right acquired nor would it even affect a suit instituted subsequently in respect of a right previously so acquired. But where there is a new law which not only repeals the old law, but is substituted in place of the old law, Section 6 (e), General Clauses Act, is not applicable, and we would have to fall back on the provisions of the new Act itself.'
With great respect I cannot agree with this dictum. Section 6 speaks merely of repeal of an Act and it would be unjustifiable for us to say that it refers to a particular repeal i.e. repeal not followed by re-enactment. The opening words of Section 6 itself lay down that the provisions of the repealing Act will over-ride the effect of repeal stated in the section; it is, therefore, not correct to say that when an Act is repealed and another Act is re-enacted, Section 9 cannot apply and that the effect of the repeal must be found out from the provisions of the new Act.
An Act may be repealed not merely by a statute, the only provision of which is that the Act is repealed but also by a statute which besides repealing the Act enacts provisions to be substituted. As a matter of fact a majority, of repealing Acts are those which re-enact the, law. In essence there is no distinction be-tween such laws and laws which merely profess to amend. If the amendment of the existing law is small, the Act professes to amend; if it is extensive, it repeals the law and re-enacts it.
In Indra Sohan Lal v. Custodian of Evacuee Property, Delhi : 2SCR1117 , the Supreme Court ruled out the notion that Section 6 is inapplicable where a repeal is followed by a fresh Act. The case of Danmal Purshottamdas (A), was expressly over-ruled by the Supreme Court in State of Punjab v. Mohar Singh, (S) AIR 1955 SC 84 (C). The question whether an amendment has retrospective effect or affects past acts or any situations created by any past acts has always been decided by reference to the provisions of Section 6.
Section 6 (c) lays down that repeal of an Act shall not affect any right, privilege, obligation or liability acquired, accrued or incurred under the repealed Act and Sub-section (c), that it shall not affect any remedy or legal proceeding commenced before the repealing Act shall have come into operation, in respect of any such right, privilege, obligation or liability and it may be enforced, and the legal proceeding may he continued and concluded, as if the repealing Act had not been passed. It is under these provisions that the questions whether a party had a vested right and whether the vested right was affected by the repeal of the Act would arise for consideration. I have, therefore, no doubt that we have to look to the provisions of Section 6 only for deciding the preliminary objection.
3. The only provisions of Section 6 which may have any application to the facts in the instant case are those contained in Clauses (c) and (e). If any right had accrued in favour of the applicant before the Amendment Act was passed, it will not be affected by the amendment because the amending Act does not profess to affect it. The remedy and tbe legal proceedings which cannot be affected by the amendment must be in respect of a right, privilege or obligationacquired or incurred before the amendment; such a remedy may be enforced, and such a legal proceeding may be continued and concluded, as if the amending Act had not been passed.
4. The most important question is whether any right or privilege was acquired by, or had accrued in favour of, the applicant before the amendment. It is settled beyond controversy that a right to an appeal is a right that vests in a suitor on the date on which he files a suit or a suit is filed against him and that it cannot be taken away by a subsequent legislation except by using appropriate language. The existence of a vested right to appeal was recognised by the Supreme Court in Hoosein Kasam Dada (India) Ltd. v. State of M. P. : 1983(13)ELT1277(SC) .
An appeal is however different from an application for revision such as one under Section 25 of the Small Cause Courts Act or, under Section 115, C. P. C. A right to appeal vests in a suitor on the date of the institution of the suit only if the right has been conferred upon him by a statute because a right to appeal is a statutory right and not an inherent right of a suitor. A suitor has no right to apply in revision; as a matter of fact there is nothing like a right to apply in revision. No suitor has a Tight to require a superior Court to revise an order of an inferior Court, even where a superior Court has been invested with jurisdiction to do so.
Section 25 of the Small Cause Courts Act and Section 115 of the Code of Civil Procedure confer jurisdiction upon the High Court to call for the record of a case decided by an inferior Court and revise its decision in certain circumstances. The right is conferred upon the High Court and no right has been conferred upon a suitor to require the High Court to revise the order.
A suitor has a right of appeal to a superior Court and the superior Court is under an obligation to entertain the appeal and to do anything that an appellate Court can do; it cannot refuse to entertain an appeal on the ground that it is discretionary with it or to reject an appeal on the ground that though the case for interference has been made out, substantial justice has been done and it will not interfere. It is the right of a superior Court to revise an illegal or improper order passed by an inferior Court and not a duty; if it is not its duty, there cannot be a corresponding right elsewhere.
Section 25 of the Small Cause Courts Act like Section 115 of the Code of Civil Procedure does not refer to any party at all; it does not even refer to any application to be moved by a party for revision; it just confers power upon the High Court to call for the record and see that the inferior Court has acted legally and within its jurisdiction. A High Court has power of superintendence over inferior Courts and has a right to see that they keep themselves within -their jurisdiction; its revisional jurisdiction even though conferred by a statutory provision such as that in Section 25 of the Small Cause Courts Act or Section 115, C. P. C. is nothing but an exercise of its supervisory jurisdiction.
Some right may vest in a suitor on the date when the suit is instituted but no right will vest in the High Court to exercise its supervisory jurisdiction over the Court in which the suit is instituted and it cannot be argued that the High Court's vested right is not affected by the amendment. When the power to revise an order of a Court of Small Causes is withdrawn from the High Court, it does not amount to withdrawing any right of a suitor.
No period of limitation is prescribed for an application in revision either under Section 115, C. P. C. or Section 25, Small Cause Courts Act. The reason is obvious; neither of the two provisions confers any right to apply and no question of limitation would arise if no act is contemplated or required to be done by a party. The fact that no limitation has been prescribed means that there is no right to apply for revision; the law of limitation prescribes periods of limitation for enforcement of all rights.
5. We were referred to some authorities which seem to lay down that a party has a right to apply in revision or that a right of appeal includes a right to apply in revision. One of them is Nagendra Nath v. Suresh Chandra , in which the question for decision was whether under Article 182 of the Limitation Act, the period of limitation for execution of the decree will begin to run from the date of the order in revision by the High Court. The words used in Article 182 are that where there has been an appeal, it begins to run from the date of the final decree or order of the appellate Court. Sir Dinshah Mulla delivering the opinion of the Board observed at page 167.
'There is no definition of appeal in the Civil Procedure Code, but their Lordships have no doubt that any application by a party to an appellate Court, asking it to set aside or revise a decision of a subordinate Court, is an appeal within the ordinary acceptation of the term.'
It may be that the word 'appeal' as used in Article 182, Limitation Act includes a revision but it does not follow that a vested right of appeal includes a right to apply in revision. Their Lordships of the Judicial Committee were considering not the nature of an appeal or an application in revision but the effect of the final order passed on an appeal or an application in revision upon the period of limitation for execution of a decree.
As regards the question from what date the limitation for execution of a decree should run, their Lordships saw no distinction between an appeal and an application in revision and held that if the limitation is to run from the date of the final order in the appeal, it should also run from the date of the final order on the application in revision. If an application in revision is entertained and disposed of, the effect of the final order passed isexactly the same as if it had been passed on appeal; whatever distinction lies between an appeal and an application in revision is in respect of the matters to be considered before the final order is passed; once the final order is passed there is no longer any distinction.
In Chidambara Nadar v. Rama Nadar, AIR 1937 Mad 385 (FB) (F), also the question was whether the word 'appeal' used in Art, 182, Limitation Act includes an application in revision. In Gurunathappa v. Dharwar Municipality, AIR 1945 Bom 197 (FB) (G), Chagla J. (as he then was) referred to the right of a suitor in a Court of Small Causes to approach the High Court under Section 25 of the Small Cause Courts Act and of his being deprived of that right on account of the suit being tried as a regular suit; the learned Judge did not, however, intend to lay down anything more than that a suitor could apply to the High Court for revision under Section 25; he was not considering the nature of the right, if any, to apply and did not mean to say that he had a right in the sense that he would have a right to file an appeal if the suit was tried as a regular suit.
Courts are always open and anybody can approach them and apply for one thing or another, in this sense it can be said that everybody has a right to make an application. But as pointed out above, a person cannot have a right unless another person has a corresponding duty or liability and the Small Cause Courts Act does not confer any right to apply for revision under Section 25. The suit there was tried as a regular suit and, therefore, the party could not approach the High Court with an application for revision as he could, if it had been tried as a Small Cause Court suit and this is all that the learned Judge meant to say.
In Sankata Frasad v. Ram Kushi Devi, ILR (1947) 22 Luck 207: (AIR 1947 Oudh 232) (H), it was observed that if an order is passed under the Oudh Rent Act, when it was in force, the course of appeal and also of a revision application will be governed by that Act. I respectfully disagree with the implied rule that a litigant has a vested right to apply for revision.
6. The revisionary jurisdiction is discretionary; the High Court may revise an order of an inferior Court if it thinks fit to do so and is not required by any law to do so in specified circumstances. The law that confers the power to revise an order does not specify the circumstances in which it must be exercised. It is, therefore, unnecessary to consider the observations of Agarwala J. in Raghunath v. Mathura Municipality : AIR1952All465 .
It would suffice to say that if the law leaves a matter to the discretion of a Court, but it requires it to act in a certain manner in certain circumstances, it ceases to be a matter of discretion and becomes a matter of duty when those circumstances exist. Obviously, when a Court is required to act in a certain manner in certain circumstances it ceases to be a matter of discretion.
7. Under the Amendment Act the District Judge has acquired the right to revise orders of the Court of Small Causes under his jurisdiction. The Act contains no provisibn to restrict it only to those orders passed after th& Amendment Act came into force. If the District Judge has now the right to revise the order in question, it could not have been intended by the Legislature that the High Court has a concurrent right.
8. Even if it be said that the applicant acquired on the date when the suit was instituted against it or on the date when it was decreed against it a right to apply for revision, it cannot be said that it acquired the right to apply to the High Court; therefore, after the amendment it must apply to the Court which has now the power to revise. Its right to apply in revision has been left intact; only the forum has been changed.
9. There is no question of the legal proceeding being continued as if the Amendment Act had not been passed; the suit came to an end when it was decreed by the Court of Small Causes. Its judgment has been made final; no proceeding can be said to be pending after a final judgment has been passed in it. A final judgment must always terminate the proceeding.
A proceeding under Section 25 of the Small Cause Courts Act is not a continuation of the proceeding commenced on the Court of Small Causes, and, therefore, is not required by Section 6 (e) to be continued in the High Court as if the Amendment Act had not been passed. If the applicant had no right to apply in revision at all or at least had no right to apply in revision to the High Court, there is no question of its enforcing the remedy by applying in revision, or by applying in revision to the High Court.
10. Applying in revision cannot be said to be even a privilege within the meaning of Section 6. A suitor in a suit tried by a Court of Small Causes has no greater privilege to apply to the High Court for revision than any person has to approach any Court with an application.
11. By holding that since the enforcement of the Amendment Act only a District Judge has the power to revise an order of a Court of Small Causes, we are not at all giving, what is called retrospective effect to the Amendment Act. The Amendment Act is in force and we are applying its provisions after its enforcement. An Act is given retrospective effect when it provides that as at a past date the law shall be taken to have been that which it was not; vide South Australian Land Mortgage and Agency Co. Ltd. v. The King 30 CLR 523 (J).
Where an Act lays down that if a certain condition is fulfilled a certain act can be done, the question will arise whether the condition is required to be fulfilled after the enforcement of the Act or its fulfilment before its enforcementwould do; no such question arises in the case before us. The provision of Section 25 is not that if a Court of Small Causes passes a decree or final order, the District Judge may call for the record etc., the exercise of the power by the District Judge is not made dependent upon the fulfilment of any condition and any decree or order of a Court of Small Causes can be revised by him now.
An enactment providing that in future the liability to repair certain existing pipes shall rest upon certain persons upon whom it did not rest previously is not retrospective; see George Hudson Ltd, v. The Australian Timber Workers Union, 32 CLR 413(K). An Act providing that a member alleging irregularity in an election may lodge an application applies to an election completed before the Act came into force; see King v. Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration, 81 CLR 229 (L).
A statute laying down that every person convicted of felonv shall be disqualified from selling spirits was held in Queen v. Vine, (1875) 10 QB 195 (M), to apply even though the conviction was obtained before the statute was enacted. Under a certain Act, an accused was liable to enhanced punishment in the case of a second or subsequent conviction and it was held that previous convictions even though recorded before the Act came into force could be taken into consideration; In re : Frederick Austin, (1912) 8 Cri App Rep 169 (N).
Under a regulation come into force after the offence in question had been committed enhanced punishment was provided for the offence and In re: Frank Ephraim Oliver, (1942) 29 Cri App Rep 137 (O), it was held that the accused was liable to enhanced punishment. Similarly under the Amendment Act, the District Judge has the power now to revise an order of the Court of Small Causes even though it was passed before the Amendment Act came into force.
12. This application for the reasons stated cannot be granted by this Court now and must be rejected. No order about costs.
Nasirullah Beg, J.
13. I agree.
BY THE COURT
14. We dismiss this application. No orders about costs.