K.C. Agrawal, J.
1. This is an appeal under Section 28 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, against an order of the Judge, Small Cause Court allowing an application of the respondent moved under Section 24 of the said Act granting Rs. 200/- per month as maintenance allowance and Rs. 500/- towards the litigation expenses.
2. In a suit brought by the appellant under Section 13 of the Hindu Marriage Act for divorce against the respondent, the latter moved an application for grant of pendente lite maintenance and litigation expenses. She claimed that she was unable to maintain herself and two daughters and two sons born to her from the appellant with the income of Rs. 150/- which she was getting from a ration shop. She alleged that she required Rs. 1,000/- per month towards the expenses of the family and, as such, the said amount be awarded to her as maintenance.
3. The application was contested by the appellant. He asserted that as the respondent had independent income, she had no right to claim maintenance,
4. Before the Judge, Small Causes, the parties filed affidavits in support of their respective cases. The learned Judge, Small Causes held that the monthly income of the respondent was Rs. 150/- per month, but as she could not meet her expenses out of the said monthly income and the independent income was not sufficient for her support and to meet the expenses of the litigation, he awarded Rs. 200/- as pendente lite maintenance per month and Rs. 500/- towards litigation expenses.
5. Being aggrieved, the appellant filed the present appeal on 13-10-1976.
6. The first question that needs determination in this appeal is about its maintainability. Section 28, as stood originally, provided that all decrees and orders made by the Court in any proceeding may be appealed from under any law for the time being in force. The question that was raised was whether an order passed under Section 24 of the Hindu Marriage Act granting temporary alimony was appealable under Section 28. A Division Bench of this Court in Smt. Sarla Devi v. Balwan Singh (1968 All LJ 676): (AIR 1969 All 601), held that an appeal lay under Section 28 of the Hindu Marriage Act against an order passed under Section 24 of the said Act. The view taken was that the words 'may be appealed from under any law for the time being in force' were wide enough to include an order passed under Section 24 of the Hindu Marriage Act.
7. After the aforesaid decision had been given in the said case, the Hindu Marriage Act was amended by Marriage Laws (Amendment) Act, 1976 (Act 68 of 1976). By this Amending Act, drastic amendments were made by the Parliament in pursuance of the 59th Report of the Law Commission. After amendment, Section 28 was divided into four sub-sections. Sub-section (1) of Section 28 provides for appeals against decrees, whereas Sub-section (2) of Section 28 gives a right of appeal against orders made by the Court in any proceedings under Sections 25 and 26 of the said Act. Sub-section (3) provides that there would be no appeal under the said Act on the subject of costs. The Parliament did not make any provision for an appeal against an order made under Section 24 of the Hindu Marriage Act. Sub-section (1), as already stated above, confers right of appeal from decrees. A cursory review of Sections 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13 would indicate that the Courts have been authorised to pass decrees under these sections. Section 24, however, is a provision for temporary alimony and does not entitle a Court to pass a decree and a decision given under Section 24 has been described as an order. Similar phraseology has been used in the language given in Sections 25 and 26. There is, however, a difference between Section 24 and Sections 25 and 26. An order passed under Section 24 is of a temporary nature and binds the parties so long as the matter is pending at the trial. Section 25 provides for permanent alimony and maintenance whereas Section 26 deals with custody of children. The Parliament having thought that orders provided for in Sections 25 and 26 were of a more serious nature than that contemplated by Section 24, conferred rights of appeal against orders passed under them. It did not make any provision of appeal against an order passed under Section 24 of the Act.
8. The next question that now arises for decision is whether the amendment made in Section 28 has to be given retrospective effect. It is the settled rule of interpretation that a right of appeal is a substantive and vested right. It accrues to a litigant on the date of institution of a suit. But, it is equally settled that the legislature has the power to take away the vested right by making an express provision or necessary intendment regarding the same. In Garikapati Veeraya v. Sub-biah Choudnry (AIR 1957 SC 540 at p. 553), the Supreme Court has laid down that the presumption is that a right of appeal conferred is not affected by subsequent change in law unless a contrary intention is expressed by the legislature.
9. In the instant case, the legislature has made a specific provision in Section 39 of Act 68 of 1976 providing that all petitions and proceedings pending in the Court would be decided in accordance with the law as amended by this Act. Section 39 (1) (i) is the relevant provision which applies to the present case. It lays down that if it is a petition or proceeding under the Hindu Marriage Act, then so far as may be, as if it had been originally instituted therein under the Hindu Marriage Act, as amended by this Act. It would, therefore, appear that the right to file an appeal had been clearly taken away by the Parliament, The amendment thus made in Section 28 applied to the pending proceedings under Section 24. Consequently, an appeal would not lie as against an order made under Section 24, although the said proceeding had started before Section 28 had been amended.
10. One of the objects in the Statement of Objects and Reasons was to avoid multiplicity of proceedings and consequent delay in the disposal of cases. It has, therefore, been clearly provided that the amendments made shall apply 'to all pending proceedings under the relevant Acts'. As a result of the amendment made in Section 28, the appeal filed by the appellant was not competent.
11. In Radheyshyam Gupta v. Laxmi Bai (AIR 1977 Madh Pra 271), a similar controversy came up for decision before a Division Bench of that Court. The Court held that Section 28 as substituted by the Amending Act did not provide for any appeal against the orders passed under Section 24, and that Section 39 of the Amending Act required a pending proceeding to be dealt with and decided as if it had been instituted under the Hindu Marriage Act as amended by the Amending Act. Consequently, the proceedings under Section 24, which had been filed prior to the Amending Act, are to be treated as instituted under the Hindu Marriage Act, as amended.
12. The question now is about the meaning of the word 'proceeding' given in Section 39 (1). The word 'proceeding' does not have a fixed connotation with a definite meaning attached to it. The ambit of the meaning of this phrase will be governed by the context. The word 'proceeding' ordinarily relates to forms of law, to the modes in which judicial transactions are conducted. The word 'proceeding' in a general sense means 'the form and manner of conducting judicial business before a Court of judicial officer'. (Black's Law Dictionary, page 1368). It can include within itself suit, appeal and second appeal. In the context, the word 'proceeding' would include the appeal as well, particularly when for the 'proceeding', the words 'suit' has already been written. The intention of the Parliament appears to be that even the appeals pending on the date of enforcement of the Act, should be decided in accordance with the amended law,
13. In Craies on Statute Law, 7th Edition, at page 389, it is said that :
'Perhaps no rule of construction is more firmly established than this that a retrospective operation is not to be given to a statute so as to impair an existing right or obligation otherwise than as regards matters of procedure, unless that effect cannot be avoided without doing violence to the language of the enactment.'
14. In the instant case, the language of the Amending Act is clear and leads to an irresistible conclusion that the amendments made in Section 28 have to be given retrospective effect
15. It is true that Section 39 does not use the word 'appeal'. But, that would not affect the interpretation placed on Section 39 by me. The word 'proceeding' has been used in a wide sense and would cover even an appeal.
16. Counsel for the appellant, however, argued this case as a revision, In my opinion, since the impugned order does not suffer from any jurisdicitonal error, the same is not liable to be set aside. The Court below considered the evidence of the parties and found that the respondent was unable to maintain herself from the income which she was getting. She had to maintain herself and four children born from the appellant. That being so, the order of the Court below fixing Rs. 200/- as pendente lite maintenance allowance cannot be said to be one requiring interference. In my view, the present is a fit case to give a direction to the trial Court to decide the suit at an early date.
17. For these reasons, the appeal fails and is dismissed. No order as to costs.