V.K. Mehrotra, J.
1. This appeal arises out of proceedings under Section 144, C.P.C. The necessary facts are these: Subh Narain and his two brothers, who are the first three respondents in this appeal, filed Suit No. 359 of 1961 against Mansa Tewari and two others, the present appellants, and Vishwa Nath and others, who have been impleaded as respondents second set, for possession over some agricultural plots. The suit was decreed by the trial court and that decree was upheld by the lower appellate court. The present appellants filed a Second Appeal in this Court. In the appeal they also moved an application praying that their ejectment be stayed during the pendency of the appeal On condition that a sum of Rs. 300 was deposited by the 15th of July each year beginning from July, 1965, this court stayed their ejectment, A sum of Rs. 1,500 in all was deposited in pursuance of that order.
2. During the pendency of the Second Appeal, the area in which the plots in dispute were situate, became subject to consolidation operation under the provisions of the U.P. Consolidation of Holdings Act, On December 10, 1969 an order was passed by this court abating the appeal and the suit. Later, on April 12, 1971 a further order (Ext. 1) was passed by this court directing that the money lying in deposit in the trial court in pursuance of the interim order passed by it, shall remain in deposit and would be paid to the party which ultimately won in the consolidation proceedings,
3. Before the order (Ext. 1) of this court, the present appellants moved an application under Section 144, C.P.C. for refund of the money deposited by them in pursuance of the ad interim order of this court. The trial court allowed that application and held, in its order dated May 29, 1970, that the appellants were entitled to withdraw that amount. Aggrieved by that order, the plaintiff-respondents filed an appeal which was disposed of by the lower appellate court on May 21, 1971. The lower appellate court did not consider the merits of the contention raised on behalf of the plaintiffs but held that the present appellants could not withdraw the amount in view of the order (Ext. 1) of this Court. Consequently, the present Second Appeal.
4. The submission of Sri H. S. N. Tripathi, appearing for the appellants, is that the lower appellate court committed an error in refusing to go into the merits of the controversy and holding that the present appellants were precluded from withdrawing the amount deposited by them during the pendency of the Second Appeal on account of the subsequent order of this Court. He has argued that the view taken by the trial court deserved to be upheld because the matter was squarely covered by Section 144, C.P.C. and the subsequent order of this Court could not affect the appellants' right to restitution by obtaining refund of the amount deposited by them.
5. Sub-section (1) of Section 144 as applicable in Uttar Pradesh at the relevant time was in the following terms,
'144. Application for restitution: (1) Where and in so far as a decree or an order is varied or reversed in appeal, revision or otherwise, the court of first instance shall, on the application of any party entitled to any benefit by way of restitution or otherwise, cause such restitution to be made, as will, so far as may be, place the parties in the position which they would have occupied but for such decree or order or such part thereof as has been varied or reversed; and, for this purpose, the court may make any orders, including orders for the refund of costs and for the payment of interest, damages, compensation and mesne profits, which are properly consequential on such variation or reversal.'
In Rodger v. Comptoir D'Escompte da Paris, (1871) 40 LJPC 1, Lord Cairns observed that 'one of the first and highest duties of all courts is to take care that the act of the court does no injury to the suitors and when the expression 'the act of the court' is used it does not mean merely the act of the primary court or of any intermediate court of appeal but the act of the court as a whole from the lowest court which entertains jurisdiction over the matter to the highest court which finally disposes of the case'. This is the equitable principle upon which the doctrine of restitution is based,
6. The effect of the order dated December 10, 1969 abating the appeal and the suit is that everything done by the court in the suit will have to be reversed and the parties will have to be put back to the same position in which they were on the date of the institution of the suit. In Vindhyachal Tewari v. Board of Revenue (AIR 1956 All 663), a Division Bench observed (in paragraph 11 of the report) as follows;
'(11) As regards the contention that Section 144, Civil P. C. does not apply to a case in which the decree of the trial court has become null and void on account of the whole proceedings having abated by reason of subsequent legislation, we are of the opinion that the contention has no force. Section 144, Civil P.C. applies to all cases in which a decree or, order is varied or reversed and when that is the case any party entitled to any benefit by way of restitution or otherwise is entitled to be placed in the position which he would have occupied but for such decree or order which has been varied or reversed.
A decree or order may be varied in appeal or in revision, or in some other proceedings. It may be varied or reversed in a separate suit. It may be varied or reversed by subsequent legislation. An abatement of a suit or proceeding had the effect of nullifying the entire suit or proceedings and all orders and decrees passed in those proceedings. The abatement, therefore, had the effect of reversing the decree or orders so passed.
Section 144, Civil P.C., therefore, in terms applies to the reversal of a decree or order by means of an abatement of the proceedings in which the decree or order was passed. It may be pointed out that Section 144, Civil P.C. applies to suit under the U.P. Tenancy Act, vide Section 243, U.P. Tenancy Act read with Lists 1 and 2 of the Second Schedule.'
7. In Lakhpati Singh v. Raghunath Singh (AIR 1974 All 479), it was observed by a Division Bench of this Court as under:--
'Learned counsel has contended that after the trial court's decree it was put into execution and possession was obtained by the petitioner. Thereafter, an appeal had been filed by the judgment-debtor. During the pendency of the appeal consolidation proceedings commenced. The appeal and the suit accordingly abated under Section 5 of the Consolidation of Holdings Act. The judgment-debtor thereupon applied under Section 144, C.P.C. for restitution. The court below has directed the restitution. The petitioner has now challenged that order through this petition.
Once the suit has abated under law, the effect will be that everything done by the court in that suit will have to be reversed and the parties will have to be put back to the same position in which they were on the date of the institution of the suit. The purpose of Section 144, C.P.C. is exactly the same, Once the suit has abated no party can take advantage or enjoy the benefit of the decree which has been set aside with the abatement of the suit. Proceedings under Section 144, C.P.C. follow as a necessary consequence to the abatement of the suit. The order passed by the court below does not thus suffer from any error of law.'
8. These decisions clearly lay down that the decree directing the ejectment of the appellants would have to be held to have been varied or reversed by the order of abatement. The real question that, however, merits consideration is as to whether the appellants, in claiming the refund of the amount deposited by them in pursuance of the ad interim order of this court, are claiming the benefit to which they are entitled under such reversal of the decree directing their ejectment. The relief claimed must be properly consequential on the reversal or variation of the decree. The doctrine of restitution, according to the Supreme Court in Lal Bhagwant Singh v. Sri Kishen Das (AIR 1953 SC 136) is that 'on the reversal of a judgment the law raises an obligation on the party to the record, who received the benefit of the erroneous judgment to make restitution to the other party for what he had lost and it is the duty of the court to enforce that obligation unless it is shown that restitution would be clearly contrary to the real justice of the cause.'
9. The facts of the instant case clearly indicate that in pursuance of the decree of ejectment the appellants had not been dispossessed nor had the plaintiff-respondents obtained any benefit under the decree. The provisions of section 144 C.P.C. could, therefore, not be held to apply to the present case.
10. It has been held by this court in Gangadhar v. Raghubar Dayal (AIR 1975 All 102 (FB)) that 'it is permissible for the court to grant restitution under its inherent power when a person has been deprived of his property due to an order of court which has subsequently been varied or reversed as being erroneous even if such party could not invoke the powers of the court under Section 144, C.P.C.'
11. Where the court has to fall back upon its inherent power in the matter of grant or otherwise of restitution, it becomes a matter of discretion with it which has, of course, to be exercised on sound judicial principles with a view to advance the cause of justice. All that the lower appellate court has done in the instant case is to refuse to endorse the order of the trial court, directing the refund of the amount to the appellants, in view of the circumstance that this court itself, in its subsequent order dated April 12, 1971 (Ext. 1) directed that the money shall remain in deposit and would be paid to the party which ultimately won in the consolidation proceedings, The refusal of the lower appellate court to uphold the order of the trial court was clearly just and its order was in exercise of its discretion on the sound judicial principle that an order of the superior court has to be given effect to, particularly when the said order indisputably was not assailed or got reviewed by the appellants in this court.
12. The appeal has no merit and is dismissed. The parties shall, however, bear their own costs.