M.C. Desai, C.J.
1. This is a statement of case submitted to this Court by the Judge (Revisions) Sales Tax, U. P., at the instance of the assessee. The question referred to us is-
Whether, on the facts of the case, the application in revision was barred by limitation by virtue of the provisions of Section 10(3) prescribing the period of limitation of one year for application in revision.
2. Our answer to the question, for the reasons that we shall give subsequently, is in the affirmative. We direct that a copy of the order be sent under Section 11(6) of the Sales Tax Act, under the seal of the Court and the signature of the Registrar to the Judge (Revisions) Sales Tax, U.P., and the Commissioner of Sales Tax, U.P. The assessee shall pay to the Commissioner of Sales Tax, U.P., his costs of this reference which we assess at Rs. 200. Counsel's fee is assessed at Rs. 200.
September 16, 1965.
M.C. Desai, C.J.
3. We answered in the affirmative the question formulated by the Judge (Revisions) Sales Tax, U.P., on 30th August, 1965, and said that the reasons for the answer would be given later. We now proceed to give the reasons. The material facts, as stated in the statement, are as follows :-
For the assessment year 1952-53 an assessment order under the U.P. Sales Tax Act was passed on 13th October, 1953, assessing the assessee [at whose instance the Judge (Revisions) has submitted this statement, on a turnover of Rs. 14,000]. A copy of the order was despatched on 26th December, 1953, and it was received by the assessee in the first week of January, 1954. (Why the assessing officer took more than two months to despatch the copy and why it took so many days for service are not known). The assessee filed no appeal from the assessment order ; instead on 12th September, 1955, it applied to the Judge (Revisions) to revise it. Previously no period of limitation was prescribed for an application for revision but the Act was amended with effect from 1st April, 1954, and now the period of limitation prescribed for an application for revision is one year from the date of service of the order complained of and the Judge (Revisions) is empowered to extend the period by six months at his discretion. Thus when the assessment order was passed and also when it was communicated to the assessee there was no period of limitation for a revision application. On 1st April, 1954, the law was changed and if it applied, the assessee was required to file a revision application within one year from the date of service of the order, i.e., by the end of the first week of January, 1955, but it filed the revision application on 12th September, 1955, and the Judge (Revisions) rejected it as barred by time.
4. Then at the assessee's instance the Judge (Revisions) submitted this statement.
5. If the revision application was governed by the law of limitation in force when it was filed it was barred by time and if it was governed by the law of limitation which was in force when the impugned order was passed it was not. If the Amendment Act, which came into effect on 1st April, 1954, governed it, it was barred by time; if it did not govern it there was no other law which required it to be filed within a specified period and it could not be said to be barred by time. Therefore, the question to be answered is whether the Amendment Act governed it or not. It was in force from before 12th September, 1955, and there is nothing in it which made it not applicable to the revision application. The provision in it prescribing the period of limitation from the date of service of the order complained of makes no distinction between service before 1st April, 1954, and service after 1st April, 1954, or between an order made before 1st April, 1954, and an order made after 1st April, 1954. The words reproduced above refer as much to service effected, and an order made, before 1st April, 1954, as to service effected, and an order made, after 1st April, 1954. Every service effected and every order made, regardless of the date, is within the provision. In other words, the provision applies to every service of an order regardless of its date. This does not amount to giving retrospective effect to the Amendment Act.
A retrospective law, in the legal sense, is one which takes away or impairs vested rights acquired under existing laws, or creates a new obligation and imposes a new duty, or attaches a new disability, in respect of transactions or considerations already past. It may also be defined as one which changes or injuriously affects a present right by going behind it and giving efficacy to anterior circumstances to defeat it, which they had not when the right accrued, or which relates back to and gives to a previous transaction some different legal effect from that which it had under the law when it occurred... However, a statute is not regarded as operating retroactively because of the mere fact that it relates to antecedent events, or draws upon antecedent facts for its operation. A prohibition of the doing of business after a statute goes into effect is not retroactive with regard to that business, even though the business be done in pursuance of an earlier contract.(50 Am. Jur., 492-493).
6. As we shall show subsequently there is no vested right to apply for revision of an assessment order under the Sales Tax Act. Further even if it were a vested right it cannot be said to be in respect of a transaction or consideration anterior to 1st April, 1954. The making of an assessment order is not a transaction or consideration giving rise to a right. Assessing a dealer to sales tax does not confer any right upon him ; on the contrary it imposes an obligation or duty (to pay a certain sum of money) upon him. Therefore, it cannot be said that the Amendment Act takes away or impairs a vested right acquired or creates a new obligation in respect of a transaction or consideration already past or that it goes behind a present right and gives efficacy to any anterior circumstance to defeat it or relates back to, and gives to, a previous transaction some different legal effect. There is no question of any transaction here ; the making of an assessment order is not a transaction at all. 'Transaction' means an act such as a contract or transfer. All that the Amendment Act does is that it relates to an antecedent event or draws upon an antecedent fact, the event or fact being the making and service of an assessment order. Merely because it operates upon an antecedent assessment order or service, it is not to be regarded as operating retroactively. Sulaiman, C.J., said in Ram Karan v. Ram Das : AIR1931All635 that to entertain a suit after a new enactment permitting such a suit is not, strictly speaking, giving to the Act retrospective effect.
7. The Sales Tax Act contains no provision for service of an assessment order upon an assessee and it is not understood why the Legislature referred to 'the date of service of the order complained of'. There may be no service of the order and a question would then arise from what date the period of one year is to be computed. There is undoubtedly Rule 45 in the Rules made by the State Government in exercise of the power conferred by Section 24 of the Act. Section 24 does not confer upon the State Government the express power of making a rule for service of an assessment order upon the assessee and the State Government was under no obligation to make a rule regarding it. What would have happened if it had not made Rule 45 From what date would have the period of one year been computed The rule might have existed when the Amendment Act was passed but the Legislature had no justification to act upon it and to refer to it when amending Section 10. Even if the rule existed when the Amendment Act was passed it was not bound to remain in existence and it was open to the State Government to cancel it at any time notwithstanding the reference to service of an order in the Amendment Act. As far as the Legislature was concerned there might not even be service of an order and if so, there would not be even an antecedent fact or event to be related to or drawn upon.
8. Even if it be said that applying the Amendment Act in the instant case amounts to giving retrospective effect to it we have no hesitation in holding that it has retrospective operation. Every procedural law is retrospective in operation : see Interpretation of Statutes by Maxwell, 10th Edition, p. 225, 36 H. L. 426, 50 Am. Jur. 506, Gardner v. Lucas (1878) 3 App. Cas. 582 (per Lord Hatherley at p. 598 and per Lord Blackburn at p. 603), The Attorney-General v. Sillem and Ors. (1864) 10 H.L.C. 704 (per Lord Westbury, L.C., at p. 727 and per Lord Cranworth at p. 738), Turnbull v. Forman (1885) 15 Q.B.D. 234 Anant Gopal Sheorey v. State of Bombay A.I.R. 1958 S.C. 915 (Kapur, J., at p. 917), The King v. Chandra Dharma  2 K.B. 335 Abdul Karim v. Deputy Custodian-General : 6SCR837 (Wanchoo, J., at p. 1258) and Shahid Ganj Mosque v. Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (per Sir George Rankin at p. 121). The reasons are that the general rule that a statute is prima facie prospective and that no retrospective effect is to be given to it unless by express words or necessary implication it appears that this was the intention of the Legislature does not apply to a statute concerned with matters of procedure. A procedural law is to be given retrospective effect in the absence of a clear indication that it was not the intention of the Legislature (Vide 36 H.L. pp. 423 and 426).
When an Act deals with procedure it affects all subsequent procedure, but it cannot rightly be said therefore to be retrospective, because it is only the subsequent procedure that it affects ; it cannot be said to affect any right which existed before the Act. (per Brett, M.R., at p. 237 in the case of Turnbull v. Forman (1885) 15 Q.B.D. 234.
9. Retroactive operation of a statute is looked upon with disfavour if it takes away or impairs vested rights under existing laws and is, therefore, considered unjust or oppressive (see 50 Am. Jur. 493). But this reason does not apply in the case of a procedural law. The question whether a law is retrospective or not is one of legislative intention. A new law changing a rule of practice is regarded as applicable to all cases then pending ; a fortiori an amendment which furnishes a new remedy but does not impair or affect any contractual obligations or disturb any vested rights is applicable to proceedings begun after its passage, though relating to acts done previously , thereto (50 Am. Jur. 506).
10. There is a distinction between a right and pursuing a remedy against an infringement of, or threat to, a right. The existence and the nature of a right are governed by what is known as substantive law and pursuing the remedy, by what is known as adjective law. All procedural law, such as that contained in the Codes of Procedure, the Limitation Act, the Court-fees Act, the Bengal, Agra and Assam Civil Courts Act, the Suits Valuation Act, etc. is adjective law. The law of limitation is concerned with pursuing the remedy and not with the existence or nature of the right or even of the remedy. Even when it contains a provision (such as that of Section 28 of the Indian Limitation Act) for extinction of a right on the lapse of certain time that provision may be treated as substantive law but the other provision prescribing the period of limitation remains procedural law. In The King v. Chandra Dharma  2 K.B. 335 Lord Alverstone, C.J., stated that a law altering the time within which a proceeding may be taken and not altering a right is 'a mere matter of procedure'. A Full Bench of this Court said in Bankey Lal v. Babu : AIR1953All747 that rules of limitation are rules of procedure and do not create any right in favour of any person, nor define or create causes of action but merely prescribe the period within which the remedy can be exercised. The Privy Council held in Shahid Ganj Mosque v. Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee that the limitation for a suit is governed not by the law existing when the cause of action accrued but by the law existing at the time of the institution of the suit because limitation is 'a matter of procedure' (per Sir George Rankin at p. 121). It is stated in 36 H.L. 426 that provisions relating to the time for the bringing of proceedings are regarded as procedural rules. In Ruckmaboye v. Lulloobhoy Mottichund (1852-54) 8 Moore P.C. 4 at p. 36 it was said :
Considered in their true light, Statutes of Limitation...are ordinarily simple regulations of suits and not of rights. They regulate the times in which rights may be asserted in Courts of Justice, and do not purport to act upon those rights.
11. Khondkar Mahomed Saleh v. Chandra Kumar Mukerji : AIR1930Cal34 Baijnath v. Doolarey Hajjam : AIR1928All708 and Ram Karan v. Ram Das : AIR1931All635 lay down that law of limitation is procedural law. A law of limitation does not confer any right to wait up to the last day of limitation before commencing a proceeding; it only permits a proceeding to be commenced if commenced on the last day of limitation or earlier. Lindsay and Sulaiman, JJ., said in Sultan Begam v. Sarvi Begam (1926) I.L.R. 48 All. 121 at p. 124 that there is no vested right in a litigant to wait for an indefinite period of time in order to start a proceeding. Sulaiman, C.J., repeated in Baijnath v. Doolarey Hajjam : AIR1928All708 and Ram Karan v. Ram Das : AIR1931All635 that a right to wait for a particular period of time before suing is not a substantive right. The contrary observation of Mukerji, J., in Ram Karan Singh's case, : AIR1931All635 that the law of remedy is a substantive law though said to be a well-known proposition of law does not seem to be correct. A cause of action is a right-legally protected interest [see the Article 'The Kinds of Legal Rights' by F.K.H. Meher in (1965) 5 Melbourne University Law Review, p. 27] and so also instituting a suit, and (as 'suit' includes an appeal) instituting an appeal (The Colonial Sugar Refining Company Ltd. v. Irving  A.C. 369). As soon as a cause of action accrues the right vests in the aggrieved party to file a suit and to carry it on in the appellate court in the event of his failure in the trial court. But this is all the right that he has; he has no vested right either in the procedure to be followed by the Court when he institutes a suit or an appeal or the period of limitation prescribed for the institution of a suit or an appeal. Mudholkar, J., said in A.S.K. Krishnappa v. S.V.V. Somiah : 2SCR241 that
the Limitation Act...is a piece of adjective or procedural law and not of substantive law.
The rule in the courts of the United States in respect of pleas of the Statute of Limitations, has always been that they strictly affect the remedy and not the merits. (Townsend v. Jemison 9 How. 407; 13 L.E 194 and Campbell v. Holt 29 L.E. 483 at p. 486).
12. Miller, J., in the latter case distinguished between the effect of a statute of limitation in vesting a right to real and personal property and its operation as a defence to contracts. In regard to a debt or contract the remedy alone is gone by lapse of time and not the obligation; so in the case of a debt or contract there is no question of any right being affected by the law of limitation. There is no vested right in a remedy: see Brainard v. Hubbard 20 L.E. 272 Mailed v. State of North Carolina 45 L.E. 1015 at p. 1018 and Gibbes v. Zimmeran 78 L.E. 342. In the case of Brainard8, Clifford, J., observed at page 277 that,
a party cannot have any vested right in a remedy conferred by an Act of Congress to prevent Congress from modifying it or adding new conditions to its exercise.
13. In Gibbes's case, 78 L.E. 342 at p. 347 Roberts, J., said :.although a vested cause of action is property...the appellant has no property, in the constitutional sense, in any , particular form of remedy.
14. The propositions that procedural law is retrospective and that law of limitation is procedural law give rise to the proposition that law of limitation starts applying at once in the absence of words to the contrary and a proceeding is governed by the law of limitation in force at the time of its institution and not by the previous law of limitation that might have existed at the time of accrual of the cause of action for it. This was expressly decided in the cases of Shahid Ganj Mosque Chandra Dharma,  2 K.B. 335 and Vijay Kumar v. Ramprasad A.I.R. 1960 Bom. 411 at p. 413. The same principle applies to amendment of a law of limitation; it governs pending causes of action. The only recognized exception to this rule is that an amending law cannot in the absence of express words, revive a cause of action that was extinguished under the earlier law. If a cause of action was extinguished by the earlier law the amending law will not apply, even though if it had been in force at the time of the accrual of the cause of action it would not have been barred by time before the suit was instituted: see Maxwell v. Murphy 96 C.L.R. 261 and The King v. Chandra Dharma  2 K.B. 335 (per Channell, J., at p. 339). Lord Alverstone, C.J., stated in the case of Chandra Dharma3 at p. 338 that if a statute shortening the period of limitation can be given retrospective effect 'it is impossible to give any good reason why a statute extending the time within which proceedings may be taken should not also be held to be retrospective.' The facts in the case of Chandra Dharma? were that he committed an offence on 15th July, 1904, when the law was that he could be prosecuted within three months of the date of commission of the offence; the law was amended with effect from 1st October, 1904, and the period of limitation was increased to six months; his prosecution was commenced on 27th December, 1904; he was convicted and his conviction was maintained. The essential fact is that the law of limitation was amended before the conviction had become barred by time under the earlier law. Miller, J., speaking for the Supreme Court of the United States in Campbell v. Holi 29 L.E. 483 was unable to see how a man can be said to have property in the bar of the statute as a defence to his promise to pay but the question before him was not whether the amendment in the law of limitation was retrospective but whether it violated the due process of law. It was assumed to be retrospective in operation because it was a case not of amending the previous law of limitation by increasing the period of limitation but of suspending the law of limitation after the cause of action had become barred by time.
15. An amendment in a law of limitation is given retrospective effect whether the amendment extends the period of limitation (barring the case of extinction of the cause of action before the Amending Act comes into force) or shortens it. The effect of a law of limitation enacted for the first time prescribing a period of limitation is the same as that of an amendment in an existing law of limitation shortening the period of limitation. The question of the effect of the shortening of the period of limitation arises in two cases, (1) when the shortening is done before the expiry of the shortened period for the cause of action and (2) when it is done after the expiry. In the instant case we are concerned with the effect of the shortening of the period of limitation before the expiry of the shortened period ; actually the Amendment Act was passed so much before the expiry of one year from the date of service of the order upon the assessee that it could hardly make a grievance of the shortening of the period and contend that it was not left with sufficient time for applying for revision. We are not concerned with the effect of shortening the period of limitation after the expiry of the shortened period so that a party is left with no right to file a suit, nor with the effect of shortening the period of limitation so that very little or inadequate time is left for filing a suit.
16. In many cases amendment in the law of limitation was given retrospective effect because the language of the Amending Act was general and applied to all causes of action whether accrued before the Amending Act came into force or accrued after it. For example in Pegler v. Great Western Railway Co.  1 All E.R. 355, at p. 358 Lord Greene said with reference to an Amending Act that 'the language...is quite general in its terms and we can see no ground for implying any such limit...as is suggested.' In Sohn v. Watersori 21 L.E. 737 Bradley, J., said at p. 738:-'A statute of limitation may, undoubtedly, have effect upon actions which have already accrued. Whether it does so or not will depend upon the language of the Act and the apparent intent of the Legislature to be gathered therefrom. When a statute declares generally that no action ... shall be brought except within a certain limited time after it shall have accrued, the language of the statute would make it apply to past actions as well as to those arising in the future. But if an action accrued more than the limited time before the statute was passed a literal interpretation of the statute would have the effect of absolutely barring such action at once. It will be presumed that such was not the intent of the Legislature.' See also Cornill v. Hudson (1857) 120 E.R. 160 at p. 163 ('...he clearly is within the scope of the enactment according to its grammatical and natural construction').
17. Lord Alverstone in the case of Chandra Dharma,  2 K.B. 335 proceeded on the basis that an Amending Act which shortens the period of limitation, governs a past cause of action and this also was the decision in the case of Vijay Kumar v. Ramprasad A.I.R. 1960 Bom. 411. In Balchelor v. Middleton 77 Rev. Rep. 19 the facts were similar to the facts in the instant case, (sufficient time was left for bringing the suit within the amended shorter period of limitation) and it was held that the amending law applied. In the case of Pegler,  1 All E.R. 355 the amending law was applied because it allowed sufficient time for commencing an action by postponing its coming into effect by one year. When an Amending Act allows grace time for bringing an action which would otherwise be barred under its provisions or postpones its coming into effect so as to give an opportunity for commencing an action before it becomes time-barred under its provisions, it is held to indicate legislative intention that it is to be given retrospective effect: see Queen v. Leeds and Bradford Railway Co. (1852) 18 Q.B. 343 Ram Karan v. Ram Das : AIR1931All635 (per King, J., at p. 647) and Jethmal v. Ambsingh A.I.R. 1955 Raj. 97 (per Modi, J., at p. 99 and Wanchoo, C.J., at p. 106). But it does not follow that it is not to be given retrospective effect in other circumstances. Soni Ram v. Kanhaiya Lal (1913) I.L.R. 35 All. 227. The State of Bihar v. Radha Krishna Kamla Prasad  8 S.T.C. 440 Ram Karan v. Ram Das : AIR1931All635 (per Sulaiman, C.J., at p. 640), Sohn v. Waterson 21 L.E. 737, Cornill v. Hudson (1857) 120 E.R. 160 at p. 163, Jethmal v. Ambsingh A.I.R. 1955 Raj. 97 and Ramayya v. Lakshmayya A.I.R. 1942 P.C. 54 all lay down that limitation for a proceeding is governed by the law of limitation in force when it is commenced and not by the earlier law in force at the time of the accrual of the cause of action. The contrary view expressed in United States v. St. Louis, S.F. & T.R. Co. 70 L.E. 435 is not applied here in India. The decision is based upon the rule that statute is not to be given retrospective effect unless such construction is required by its explicit language or by necessary implication and the Court saw nothing in the language of the amending law or its history requiring it to hold that the shortened period of limitation governed a cause of action existing at the date of its coming into effect.
18. That applying an amending law of limitation would cause inconvenience or operate harshly upon a litigant is no justification for refusing to apply it. As was pointed out by Hidayatullah, J., in Commissioner of Income-tax v. Ranchhoddas Karsondas : 36ITR569(SC) 'all laws of limitation lead to some inconvenience and hard cases. The remedy is for the Legislature to amend the law suitably. The courts can administer the laws as they find them, and they are seldom required to be astute to defeat the law of limitation.' It is in order to avoid hardship that the Legislature sometimes enacts the provision for giving grace time or suspending the coming into operation of the amending law of limitation. When an amending law of limitation comes into force at once and does not give any grace time to a party to commence an action it may be presumed to be prospective in one or the other of three modes mentioned in Sohn v. Waterson 21 L.E. 737. The United States Supreme Court adopted the mode of computing the period of limitation not from the date of the accrual of the cause of action but from the date of the enforcement of the Amending Act and saw no good principle on which the other two modes (one of applying the statute only to causes of action accruing after the enforcement of the Act and the other of applying it to future causes of action as well as to such past causes of action as are still left with reasonable time for prosecution) could be founded. The rule laid down in this case is not followed in India.
19. The revision application filed by the assessee was clearly within the scope of the words used in the Amendment Act, which was in force from before. According to them it should have been filed within three years of the date of the service of the order upon him. When the Amendment Act came into force it had ample time for applying for revision before the expiry of the new period of limitation. The Amendment Act did not take away any of its rights by shortening the period for its applying in revision. Revisional jurisdiction is notoriously discretionary; there is no right to get an order revised as there is a right to get an order corrected on appeal. Instituting a suit and instituting an appeal are matters of right but not applying for revision. Provisions regarding revision including Section 10 of the Sales Tax Act merely confer power upon superior authorities to revise inferior authorities' orders and do not confer any right upon parties aggrieved by the inferior authorities' orders to apply for revision. In the Commissioner of Income-tax v. Tribune Trust, Lahore  16 I.T.R. 214 the Privy Council stated that Section 33 of the Indian Income-tax Act does not create any right in the aggrieved person ; the so-called right of revision is not strictly speaking a right at all. The Privy Council pointed out that the only specific right is that of an appeal. In Hari Shanker v. Girdhari Lal A.I.R. 1963 S.C. 698 the Supreme Court distinguished between a right of appeal and a right of revision. In S. S. Khanna v. F.J. Dillon 1963 A.L.J. 1068 the Supreme Court observed that the power conferred by Section 115, Civil Procedure Code, is discretionary. If a revision cannot be claimed as a matter of right there is nothing like a right to apply in revision ; there would be no sense in creating a right to apply for revision if it is at the discretion of the superior authority to revise or not to revise the inferior authority's order. No right is required for the physical act of making any application whatsoever because one can always make an application of any nature to any authority. Even if the assessee's right to file an appeal had been shortened it could not make a grievance of it; a fortiori it cannot make a grievance if the period of limitation for its making an application for revision is shortened especially when the shortened period still leaves sufficient time at its disposal.
20. In the cases of Khondkar Mahomed Saleh v. Chandra Kumar Mukerji : AIR1930Cal34 Vijay Kumar v. Ramprasad A.I.R. 1960 Bom. 411 and Sultan Begam v. Sarvi Begam (1926) I.L.R. 48 All. 121 the facts were similar to those in the instant case and the amending law was applied. In the case of Baijnath v. Doolarey : AIR1928All708 the amending law taking away the power to extend time was applied. The facts in Jethmal v. Ambsingh A.I.R. 1955 Raj. 97 are distinguishable because in the instant case we are not concerned with any cause of action or a right to sue. Moreover the observation at page 103 of Modi, J., that 'there is overwhelming authority in favour of the principle that where a subsequent law curtails the period of limitation previously allowed, and such law comes into force at once, it should not be allowed to have retrospective effect, which it would otherwise have, so as to destroy pre-existing vested rights of suit' does not, with all respect, seem to lay down the correct law. The authorities are against the view that the mere shortening of a period of limitation destroys a vested right. The statement presupposes that the law has retrospective effect; otherwise 'which it would otherwise have' would be meaningless.
21. It was for this reason that we answered the question in the affirmative.