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Muzaffarnagar Bank Ltd. Vs. Fatta and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
Subject Civil
CourtAllahabad
Decided On
Reported inAIR1937All778
AppellantMuzaffarnagar Bank Ltd.
RespondentFatta and ors.
Excerpt:
.....like sections 3 and 5 and it is nowhere said therein that after the decree is converted into a new decree, the new decree should be deemed to bear the date of the original..........applicability of the first category. the applicant must be (a) an agriculturist and (b) to whom chap. 3 applies. if either the first or second or both of these conditions are not fulfilled, then he cannot come under that category and must come under the second category. now chap. 3 deals with mortgages and their redemption, and all the sections in that chapter deal with disputes arising between mortgagor and mortgagee. the whole of that chapter is altogether inapplicable to the case of a simple debt in which there is no relation of mortgagor and mortgagee but only one between simple creditor and debtor. by no stretch of the language therefore can it be said that chap. 3 applies to a person who is a simple debtor and not a mortgagor. it would follow that such a person would not come.....
Judgment:
ORDER

1. This is an application in revision from an order of the Munsif of Muzaffarnagar dated 12th September 1936 allowing an application under Sections 5 and 30, Agriculturists' Belief Act. The Court below has proceeded on the assumption that the applicant was an agriculturist as apparently the point does not appear to have been seriously contested before it. The Court has fixed 28 equal six-monthly instalments beginning from 15th March 1937 and has allowed future interest at the Court rate. The first point urged in revision is that the Court had no jurisdiction to spread the instalments over a period of 13 years from the date of the decree as under the first Proviso to Section 3 the Court should not have extended the period beyond four years. It is argued that the applicant is not a person as regards whom the limits prescribed for the payment of revenue and rent, etc. in Section 2, Sub-section (2), are to be omitted, It is then argued that he must come within the second category 'other agriculturists' mentioned in that Proviso. Now the Proviso consists of two parts. Under the first part a period of 4 years only is fixed from the date of the decree 'in the case of an agriculturist to whom Chapter 3 applies' and the second part prescribes a maximum period of 15 years from such date 'in the case of other agriculturists'. It is thus clear that an agriculturist would fall under the second category if he cannot be brought under the first. Now there are two conditions necessary for the applicability of the first category. The applicant must be (a) an agriculturist and (b) to whom Chap. 3 applies. If either the first or second or both of these conditions are not fulfilled, then he cannot come under that category and must come under the second category. Now Chap. 3 deals with mortgages and their redemption, and all the sections in that chapter deal with disputes arising between mortgagor and mortgagee. The whole of that chapter is altogether inapplicable to the case of a simple debt in which there is no relation of mortgagor and mortgagee but only one between simple creditor and debtor. By no stretch of the language therefore can it be said that Chap. 3 applies to a person who is a simple debtor and not a mortgagor. It would follow that such a person would not come under the first category but must come under the second, provided of course he is an agriculturist.

2. It is argued on behalf of the applicant that the meaning of the expression 'an agriculturist to whom Chap. 3 applies' is that the applicant must possess a status which would make him an agriculturist coming within the purview of Chap. 3 if he had been a mortgagor and had been applying under Chap. 3. This contention is opposed to the language used by the Legislature which is to the effect 'to whom Chap. 3 applies' and not 'to whom Chap. 3 would have applied'. Strong reliance is placed by the learned advocate on the ruling of a Division Bench of the Oudh Chief Court in Girwar Singh v. Ramman Lal in which, no doubt, the Bench took the view which supports the applicant's contention. The learned Judges started with the consideration of the question 'whether or not the opposite party are agriculturists to whom Chap. 3 applies'. They then considered the provisions of Sections 2 and 3 and then stated what they considered to be the policy underlying the rule and concluded:

We are therefore definitely of the opinion that the opposite party being agriculturists of the class referred to in Section 2(2), Clause (a), and therefore 'an agriculturist to whom Chap. 3 applies', the period of instalments which could be fixed in the decree standing against him could not be extended beyond four years.

3. Apparently it was thought that if the applicant possessed the status of an agriculturist mentioned in Section 2, Sub-section (2), Clause (a), he is a person to whom Chap. 3 applies. With great respect, we are unable to agree with this view. Chap. 3 cannot apply to this applicant at all because he is not a mortgagor. He may be an agriculturist, but he is certainly not an agriculturist to whom Chap. 3 applies. The argument of the learned Counsel comes to this: that the agriculturist within the meaning of the Proviso to Section 3 is the agriculturist who comes within the groups (a) to (h). The Legislature has however not chosen to say so. It may be pointed out that the Proviso to Section 2, Sub-section (2), merely widens the scope. Ordinarily the persons who are agriculturists and can take advantage of this Act are those enumerated in the groups (a) to (h), but for the purposes of certain special sections and chapters the limits imposed regarding the amount of rent and revenue, etc., have been omitted, and persons whose revenue and rent exceed the maximum can also be regarded as agriculturists. It is noteworthy that there are numerous other sections and other chapters in the Act which, like Chap. 3, are not mentioned in this Proviso. If the argument for the applicant were sound, then the result would be that for the purpose of the other chapters and sections the same difficulty would arise and the period allowed for instalments would be 4 years only. On the other hand, the Legislature has in express terms provided in Section 3 that all other agriculturists would have a period of 15 years for the purposes of instalments, while those to whom Ch. 3 applies should have the shorter period. There is therefore no justification for substituting in Section 3, for the words 'to whom Ch. 3 applies' other words like 'who come under groups (a) to (h) in Section 2'.

4. The Oudh decision comes to this that the agriculturist within the meaning of the first category in the Proviso to Section 3 must be an agriculturist who is within the maximum limits prescribed and not one without such limits. But this interpretation of Section 3 would be directly contrary to the provisions of the Proviso to Section 2(2) under which in Section 3 also an agriculturist means one as to whom the limits are to be omitted. This point does not appear to have been pressed before the Oudh Bench. It follows that the only possible interpretation to be put on the Proviso to Section 3 is that the person referred to therein for whom a four years limit is prescribed is one who has made an application under Ch. 3 and to whom Ch. 3 therefore applies. We think that on the plain language of the section we must hold that the applicant is not an agriculturist to whom Ch. 9 applies at all, and he cannot therefore come under the first category. We may point out that in Puran v. Bhagwat Prasad : AIR1937All345 , although the point was not considered in detail, it was assumed that in the case of a simple money debt, the applicant was not an agriculturist to whom Ch. 3 applied.

5. The second point urged is that the Court had no jurisdiction to reduce future interest in this case. As regards this point also, reliance is placed on a ruling of the Oudh Chief Court which has been expressly dissented from by a Benoh of this Court in Manmohan Das v. Izhar Husain : AIR1937All449 . It has been pointed out in that ruling that the provisions of Section 4 are imperative and they make it obligatory on a Court not to allow on any decree for money more future interest than at the rate prescribed by that section. It is argued that this interpretation would be in conflict with the provisions of section 30, Sub-section (2), under which the Court is enjoined to reduce the rate of interest. But that section primarily applies to the reduction of interest on the loan, and calculation is to be made up to the date of the decree. There is absolutely no inconsistency between Sections 4 and 30 simply because the two sections prescribe different maxima beyond which rates of interest cannot go. If there are two maxima prescribed and a case falls under both, then it will be the lower maximum which will govern the case. Quite apart from that, the chapter deals primarily with the rate of interest on the loan itself and the Court is to prepare an account and reduce the amount of interest up to the date of the decree. When it comes to fix the rate for future interest, it is to be guided by the provisions of Section 4, unless that section is inapplicable. It has been held in this Court that Section 4 applies to all decrees. Now under Section 5 the Court has to convert a previous decree for money into a decree for payment by instalments drawn up in accordance with the provisions of Section 3. This is undoubtedly a new decree in which the old decree is to be converted and it has been held by this Court that the Court would, not be empowered to fix future rate of interest beyond the maximum prescribed by Section 4.

6. It is not necessary to consider whether under Section 30, Sub-section (2), the Court cannot also reduce future interest. Under that section the Court can amend the previous decree and Sub-section (3) provides that the decree amended shall be deemed to bear the date of the original decree. It is significant that no such rule is laid down in the earlier sections, for example like Sections 3 and 5 and it is nowhere said therein that after the decree is converted into a new decree, the new decree should be deemed to bear the date of the original decree. The objects of the two sections are quite different. Section 30 deals with reduction of interest only, whereas Section 5 deals with the easy payment of the decretal amount by instalments. The Court is empowered to allow the amount to spread over a longer period instead of compelling the debtor to pay up the amount immediately. Learned advocate for the applicant has brought to our notice the case in Nanno Mal v. Hoti Lal. A.I.R. All. 645 decided by a learned Judge of this Court. That case can be distinguished on the ground that there no application under Section 5 of the Act had at all been made and the learned Judge was considering the provisions of Section 30(2) only. In any case, if that view is in conflict with. the opinion expressed by the Division Behch ruling, it must be considered to have been overridden by the Division Bench ruling.

7. The third point urged on behalf of the applicant is that the Court below was wrong in fixing instalments from the date of the new decree. It is urged that the instalments should run from the date of the original decree. It is significant that although for the purposes of Section 30, Sub-section (2), under which a previous decree is merely 'amended,' it is provided in Sub-section (3) that the amended decree shall be deemed to bear the date of the original decree, there is no similar provision in Sections 3 and 5 of the Act. No difficulty arises under Section 3 where the Court comes to pass the decree itself, for in such a case it would be guided by Section 4 which follows it. Under Section 5 the Court has to convert a previous decree into a new decree for payment by instalments which is to be drawn up in accordance with the provisions of Section 3. It is not merely an amended decree but it is a new decree for payment by instalments. There is no provision in section 5 to the effect that this decree into which the old decree is converted should be deemed to bear the date of the original decree. There is, on the other hand, a clear provision that it should be drawn up in accordance with the provisions of Section 3. It would therefore follow that when a decree is converted into a new decree under Section 5, the Court can fix a period for payment by instalments starting from the date of the new decree and not necessarily from the date of the original decree. This was the view expressed by a learned Single Judge of this Court in Ram Ghulam v. Bandhu singh : AIR1936All434 in which Allsop, J. observed that for the purposes of Section 5 of the Act the meaning of the word 'decree' in Proviso 1 to section 3(1) is the decree for instalments and not the original decree which is converted into a decree for instalments. We agree with that view. We accordingly dismiss the revision with costs.


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