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Amitab Chaudhary Vs. District Judge, Allahabad and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectLimitation
CourtAllahabad High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCivil Misc. Writ No. 5790 of 1983
Judge
Reported inAIR1985All7
ActsLimitation Act, 1963 - Sections 5 and 14; Code of Civil Procedure (CPC) - Order 9, Rule 13
AppellantAmitab Chaudhary
RespondentDistrict Judge, Allahabad and anr.
Appellant AdvocateH.S. Nigam and ;B.D. Agarwal, Advs.
Respondent AdvocateR.K. Asthana, Adv. and ;Standing Counsel
DispositionPetition allowed
Excerpt:
.....must have been unable to entertain it for the reasons specified, namely, defect of jurisdiction or other cause of the like nature. 10. the expression 'or other cause of a like nature' has been construed in ejusdem generis as 'the words which precede them'.therefore, the failure of the prior proceedings on merits would not be covered by this section. the manner in which the learned munsif has passed the order clearly shows that he was acting in a vindictive manner and he has decided not to allow the petition of the appellant even if there was sufficient ground and only with this end in view, he rejected the review petition and therefore i find that the review petition has been dismissed in a manner which could not be appreciated, i am of the opinion that the said period should be..........and 30-7-1982 was fixed for orders and filing objections by the petitioner. on 31-8-1982, the learned munsif rejected the application under order ix rule 13 c.p.c. by holding that the cause for setting aside the ex parte decree was not sufficient. in between, several dates were fixed on the various applications moved by respondent no. 2, but as the details of those applications and orders are not necessary for deciding the present writ petition, i do not consider it necessary to mention the same.5. against the order dated 31-8-1982, an appeal was filed by respondent 2 mewa lal before the district judge on 27-94982 along with an application for condonation of delay. the relevant paragraph 12 of the affidavit, which seeks condonation, is quoted below :--'that it is necessary and.....
Judgment:
ORDER

K.C. Agarwal, J.

1. This petition under Article 226 of the Constitution has been preferred by Amitab Chaudhary against the judgment of the District Judge, Allahabad, dated 4th May, 1983, allowing the application of Mewa Lal, respondent No. 2, filed under Section 14 of the Limitation Act.

2. The brief facts are these. Amitab Chaudhary filed suit No. 661 of 1981 for possession and demolition of constructions made by Respondent 2 Mewa Lal. The suit was decreed ex parte on October 19, 1981 with costs. An application for execution was thereafter made by the petitioner Amitab Chaudhary on 28-1-1982. On 30-1-1982 the application was registered and writ of possession was issued returnable by 27-2-1982. On 25-2-1982, the decree-holder Amitab Chaudhary applied for police assistance to enable him to obtain possession and demolition. On 27-2-1982, an order was passed by the Munsif concerned that writ be issued returnable by 26-3-1982. Ultimately, it appears that on 17-5-1982 Manila police was directed to be given to help in the execution.

3. On 17-5-1982, the judgment debtor Mewa Lal, Respondent 2, moved an application under Order IX, Rule 13 C.P.C. for setting aside the ex parte decree. On this application, notices were directed to be issued fixing 3-7-1982. An objection to this application was filed on 28-5-1982 along with a counter-affidavit. On this very day, the executing court recorded the statement of Respondent No. 2. The case was continued and was fixed for 3-7-1982 for remaining evidence, but subsequently this date was changed on the application of Respondent 2 himself and 31-5-1982 was fixed for remaining evidence, on which date the evidence of respondent 2 was concluded and 9-7-1982 was fixed for evidence of the petitioner. On 9-7-1982, respondent 2 since did not appear, the application made under Order IX Rule 13 C.P.C. for setting aside the ex parte decree was rejected.

4. The respondent 2 Mewa Lal, thereafter, applied for recalling the order dated 9-7-1982, on 14-7-1982. This application was registered, and 30-7-1982 was fixed for orders and filing objections by the petitioner. On 31-8-1982, the learned Munsif rejected the application under Order IX Rule 13 C.P.C. by holding that the cause for setting aside the ex parte decree was not sufficient. In between, several dates were fixed on the various applications moved by Respondent No. 2, but as the details of those applications and orders are not necessary for deciding the present writ petition, I do not consider it necessary to mention the same.

5. Against the order dated 31-8-1982, an appeal was filed by Respondent 2 Mewa Lal before the District Judge on 27-94982 along with an application for condonation of delay. The relevant paragraph 12 of the affidavit, which seeks condonation, is quoted below :--

'That it is necessary and proper in theends of justice that this appeal be treatedas in time and the benefit of Section 5 ofthe Limitation Act read with Section 14 ofthe Limitation Act and 1937 AIR PC page276 be given to the appellant.'

6. This application for condonation of delay was contested by the petitioner. The learned District Judge allowed the same by the impugned judgment dated 4-5-1983, against which the present writ petition has been filed. The learned District Judge extended the benefit of Section 14 of the Limitation Act to Respondent No. 2 and, alternatively, also held that there was sufficient ground for condonation of delay. On this basis, the District Judge accepted the application of Respondent No. 2 for condonation of delay and fixed a date for hearing of the appeal.

7. In this case, the argument of the learned counsel for the petitioner was that the learned District Judge was wrong in applying Section 14 of the Limitation Act while condoning delay in filing the appeal before the District Judge. It appears from the judgment of the learned District Judge that he has applied Section 14 for the exclusion of the period from 14-7-1982 to 31-8-1982 on the ground that as Respondent No. 2 had been involved in pursuing the remedy of review of the order dated 9-7-1982, the said period was liable to be excluded. The petitioner's counsel urged that Section 14 of the Limitation Act did not apply to the present case, hence the ground for exclusion of time spent in pursuing the restoration of the application under Order IX Rule 13 could not be treated as sufficient.

8. There is a clear distinction between Sections 5 and 14 of the Limitation Act, Section 14 provides for exclusion of time during which another civil proceeding was pending in computing the period of limitation, whereas Section 5 provides that notwithstanding the expiration of the period of limitation, the Court can condone the delay and entertain the proceedings. For applying Section 14, it is further necessary that the earlier proceeding must have failed from defect of jurisdiction or other cause of a like nature. If on account of these things the Court seized with the earlier proceedings was unable to entertain it, the benefit of Section 14 can be given.

9. In the instant case, the application for review of the order dated 9-7-1982 was not rejected on the ground of defect in jurisdiction. The Court had examined the merits of that application and found that Respondent 2 was not entitled to get the relief as a case for its setting aside had not been made out. The learned District Judge, therefore, appears to be apparently wrong in taking assistance of Section 14 while treating the appeal filed before him to be within time. In order that Section 14 could apply, it is essential that the Court, in which the prior proceeding was prosecuted, must have been unable to entertain it for the reasons specified, namely, defect of jurisdiction or other cause of the like nature. The benefit of Section 14, therefore, cannot be obtained where prior proceedings were dismissed on merits. See Satish Chandra Naresh Kumar v. Commr. of Sales Tax, U. P., 1972 UPTC 729 : (1973 Tax LR 2307). In this case, the Division Bench held that since the application was rejected on the ground that it was not maintainable, the order rejecting it was on merits, hence Section 14 could not be applied.

10. The expression 'or other cause of a like nature' has been construed in ejusdem generis as 'the words which precede them'. Therefore, the failure of the prior proceedings on merits would not be covered by this section. The learned District Judge was apparently wrong in applying Section 14 to the facts of the present case and finding on its basis that the time taken in pursuing the review could be excluded under this section. This proposition of law is settled and admits 'of no two opinions, and I do not consider it worthwhile to refer to the decided cases on the same.

11. It is correct that the District Judge has also referred to Section 5 of the Limitation Act when he says that cause for the delay in filing the appeal may be treated as sufficient, but for doing so, he has given no reasons whatsoever. What he has remarked was that sitting as an appellate Court, in order to advance the interest of justice, he could find that there was sufficient ground for condonation of delay. This is not the correct legal position. As a Court of appeal, he did not have inherent power to condone the delay. He did have power to condone the delay under Section 5, if he found that the cause was sufficient. In the instant case, had the matter ended there, I would have not interfered. I would presently show that while allowing the application, the learned District Judge was guided by irrelevant consideration. He has been unjustifiably critical of the Munsif and perhaps the impressions formed by him led to the allowing of the application. For . this purpose, I would prefer to quote some of his observations :

'I have summarised the manner in which the proceedings took place before the Munsif. From a bare reading of the orders in the case which is under consideration before us it would be evident that because of some reason or the other the learned Munsif from the very beginning had decided to reject all the applications moved by the appellant.

The appellant felt that the learned Munsif will not continue to be vindictive and therefore moved a review petition before that Court which the learned Munsif also rejected. The only observation which I could make in the case was that no Court has right to punish the litigant simply because the counsel who was appearing for him was not amenable to the whims of the Court. The manner in which the learned Munsif has passed the order clearly shows that he was acting in a vindictive manner and he has decided not to allow the petition of the appellant even if there was sufficient ground and only with this end in view, he rejected the review petition and therefore I find that the review petition has been dismissed in a manner which could not be appreciated, I am of the opinion that the said period should be excluded while considering the question of limitation.'

12. The observation of the learned District Judge to the effect that the Munsif was vindictive is most unfortunate and not supported by any evidence on record. It is undesirable and improper for an appellate Court to criticise the trial Court in an unrestrained language. A public indictment made by the District Judge tends to make the position of the Munsif difficult and lowers the administration of justice in the eyes of the public.

13. In Chaudhri Mahbub Singh v. Haji Abdul Aziz Khan , a warning had been given to an appellate Court. The observations of the Privy Council in this regard were :

'The use of criticism of and imputations upon the honesty of an inferior Court expressed by the appellate Court inlanguage which may tend to prevent the inferior Court from forming and expressing an independent view of the result of the evidence brought before it is to be deprecated, for a Judge might honestly take the opposite view.'

14. In Emperor v. Ganpati Sita Ram, AIR 1944 Nag 136, the High Court held it as undesirable and improper for one Judge to criticise another in unrestrained Language. In the opinion of the High Court, a public indictment tends to make position of a judicial officer difficult and affects adversely his ability to perform his duties. It also lowers the administration of justice in the eyes of the public.

15. In my view, the learned District Judge had no jurisdiction to make critical observations, some of which have been quoted by me above, in his judgment while allowing the application. Every one should be humble enough, to remember the words of Jackson 'No one is infallible.'

16. After hearing counsel for the parties, in my opinion, the interest of justice requires that the judgment of the District Judge be set aside, and the case be sent back to him for consideration of the prayer made for condonation of the delay under Section 5 of the Limitation Act. The impugned judgment indicates that the learned District Judge was of the opinion that the time spent in prosecuting the application before the Munsif was liable to be excluded under Section 14 arid by applying Section 14, he passed the impugned order. He has referred to Section 5 of the Limitation Act without applying his mind to it. Seeing the entire circumstances and the background in which the learned District Judge decided the application, reference to which has been made by me above, it appears appropriate that the judgment of the District Judge be quashed and he is directed to decide the application afresh on merits.

17. Learned counsel for the petitioner submitted before me that no case for condonation of delay under Section 5 was made out and, as such, the application need not be sent back to the learned District Judge for a fresh decision. This was controverted by the counsel appearing for the respondent No. 2. In my view, the remand is necessitated for a fresh consideration of the entire matter.

18. For the reasons given above, the writ petition succeeds and is allowed with costs. The order of the District Judge, Allahabad, dated 4th May, 1983, is quashed, and he is directed to decide the application of the Respondent No. 2 afresh in the light of the observations made by me in the judgment. The stay order is discharged.


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