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Kalpataru Das Vs. Commissioner of Hindu Religious Endowments Adn ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
CourtOrissa
Decided On
Reported inAIR1949Ori46
AppellantKalpataru Das
RespondentCommissioner of Hindu Religious Endowments Adn ors.
Cases ReferredLewis v. Berry
Excerpt:
.....no specific order condoning any delay for the purpose of deposit under first proviso to sub-section (1) of section 173 is necessary. [new india assurance co. ltd. v md. makubur rahman, 1993 (2) glr 430 and new india assurance co. ltd. v smt rita devi, 1997(2) glt 406, approved. new india assurance co. ltd. v birendra mohan de, 1995 (2) gau lt 218 (db) and union of india v smt gita banik, 1996 (2) glt 246, are not good law]. - , (act xiv [14] of 1882). according to section 19 the munsif's jurisdiction extends to like suits, that is, original suits of civil nature of which the value does not ordinarily exceed rs. a sufficient act ought not to be held repealed by implication without some strong reason. it is well settled that the court does not construe a later act as repealing an..........'law' referred to above must be the 'law of civil procedure code and the bengal, agra and assam civil courts act'. the court is defined in section 6 (3) of the act. this clause reads:'court' means the civil court of the lowest grade cinder the bengal, agra and assam civil courts act, 1887, within whose local limits the commissioner exercises jurisdiction or a muth or temple is situated.3. the learned subordinate judge in passing the order under revision has acceded to the contention that the court, as defined in the section, must always mean the court of the munsif irrespective of the pecuniary value of the subject, matter of the suit. in this connexion, section 3, civil courts act, has been referred to which constitutes the following classes of civil courts under the act, namely, the.....
Judgment:

Ray, C.J.

1. This revision is directed against an order of the Additional Subordinate Judge of, Cuttack returning the plaint of a suit under Section 64 Orissa Religious Hindu Endowments Act, (Act IV [4] of 1939) to the plaintiff to be presented to the-proper Court. As this order is appelable under Order 43, Rule 1 (a), Civil P.C., this revision should be treated as miscellaneous appeal. No question o deficiency of court fee arises as the court-fee already paid is sufficient for an appeal against an order.

2. The only contention that arises in this appeal is whether the Subordinate Judge had, the jurisdiction to entertain the suit. The contention has relevance to certain provisions of the Act. Section 64 provides that if any dispute-arises over an order passed by the Religious Endowments Commissioner as to whether the, temple or muth is an institution as defined in the Act or whether it is an excepted temple, the party affected by such an order may institute a suit in 'the Court' to modify or set aside such decision. Section 65, by its provision, attracts to such a right of suit, all the other rights of appeal (second appeal and revision) under the law regulating such proceedings in respect of the decisions of the said Court. This 'law' referred to above must be the 'law of Civil Procedure Code and the Bengal, Agra and Assam Civil Courts Act'. The Court is defined in Section 6 (3) of the Act. This clause reads:

'Court' means the civil Court of the lowest grade cinder the Bengal, Agra and Assam Civil Courts Act, 1887, within whose local limits the Commissioner exercises jurisdiction or a muth or temple is situated.3. The learned Subordinate Judge in passing the order under revision has acceded to the contention that the Court, as defined in the section, must always mean the Court of the Munsif irrespective of the pecuniary value of the subject, matter of the suit. In this connexion, Section 3, Civil Courts Act, has been referred to which constitutes the following classes of civil Courts under the Act, namely, the Courts of District Judge, Additional Judge, Subordinate Judge and the Munsif. Of these 4 classes, their respective jurisdiction with regard to the locality and value of the subject-matter have been defined in various sections of the Act. Sections 18 and 19 are the relevant ones for the purpose of this appeal. According to Section 18, jurisdictions of the District Judge and Subordinate Judge extend to all original suits for the time being cognisable by civil Courts subject to provision of Section 15, Civil P.C., (Act XIV [14] of 1882). According to Section 19 the Munsif's jurisdiction extends to like suits, that is, original suits of civil nature of which the value does not ordinarily exceed Rs. 1000. According to Sub-section (2) of that section and the proviso, the pecuniary jurisdiction of a Munsif may be extended to suits of either RS. 2000 or Rs. 4000, as the case may be. In this context, the argument that the Court of the lowest grade under the Civil Courts Act must mean the Munsif, if acceded to, would amount to giving the Munsif an unlimited pecuniary jurisdiction in respect of the subject-matter of the suit in contravention of the provision of the Civil Courts Act according to which the Court of a Munsif is constituted. In other words, it would amount to repeal of such of the provisions of the Civil Courts Act which limit the competency of a Munsif as a Court relating to suits of particular and fixed value. The question, therefore, that arises is whether such a repeal has, in fact, been intended by the legislature and has been so expressed in the section (6 (3)). It is la fundamental canon of construction of statutes that repeal by implication is seldom favoured:

A sufficient Act ought not to be held repealed by implication without some strong reason. It is a reasonable presumption that the legislature did not intend to keep really contradictory enactments on the Statute-book, or, on the other hand, to effect so important a measure as the repeal of a law without expressing an intention to do so. Such an interpretation, therefore, is not to be adopted, unless it be inevitable. Any reasonable construction which offers an escape from it is more likely to be in consonance with the real intention.This last proposition has been laid down in the case of Lewis v. Berry reported in (1936) 1 ch. 274 . It is worth-while to quote a passage from the aforesaid decision:

It is well settled that the Court does not construe a later Act as repealing an earlier Act unless it is impossible to make the two Acts or the two sections of the Act stand together, i.e., if the section of the later Act, can only be given a sensible meaning if it is treated as impliedly repealing, the section of the earlier Act.4. There is an other rule of construction as mentioned in Maxwell on Interpretation of Statutes, namely,

Further, it is laid down generally that when the later enactment is worded in affirmative terms only, without any negative expressed or implied, it does not repeal the earlier law.5. In this view, if the Provincial Legislature means to repeal an earlier provision contained in the Civil Courts Act, they should have prefixed the definition of the word 'Court' by words of negative import, such as, 'notwithstanding any law or provision of law to the contrary.' Mr. B.N. Das, appearing for the respondents, lays stress upon the words 'Civil Courta of the lowest grade under the Act.' The question is what import the words 'the lowest grade' have? Having reference to the Acts which deal with constitution of Courts, their competency and their territorial or personal jurisdictions, two words are in use -- one is jurisdiction and the other is grade, For example, when we refer to the provisions of the Civil Procedure Code, which also enjoins the rule that all suits must be instituted in the Court of the lowest grade, it means the Court of the lowest grade competent to try, which implies that 'grade' has nothing to do with jurisdiction. Competent to try is certainly inter-connected with the jurisdiction of the Court in relation to the subject-matter, its value and the nature of the suit. Evidently, therefore, the Legislature, by using the word 'Court of the lowest grade' had certainly in their mind the identical expression used in Civil Procedure Code where it deals with the same topic of 'place of suing'. Nothing should have been easier and more explicit for the Legislature to say that the 'Court' would mean the Court of the 'lowest jurisdiction' if they did really mean that the 'lowest grade' should be the 'grade having the lowest pecuniary jurisdictional qualifications.'

6. Besides, there is a much simpler approach to the question. The Court of the lowest grade under the Civil Courts Act Should necessarily mean the Court which is so constituted with reference to the nature of the controversy to be adjudicated upon in the suit. I should say that the Civil Courts Act does not contemplate a Court of a Munsif for suits of a pecuniary value above Rs. 4000 or Rs. 2000 or Rs. 1000, as the case may be, with reference to a particular locality. This proposition can be demonstrated very simply by recalling to one's mind a hypothetical case. Suppose, a Munsif sits on trial in a suit of which the value is Rs. 50,000 and passes a judgment and decree. It is pre-eminently clear that such judgments and decrees are not to be respected as judgments and decrees of Courts because they are void and almost amount to an expression of an opinion of the presiding officer as a gentleman at large and not as a Court. Therefore, the Court, for the purpose of certain classes of suits or suits, or certain valuation, must mean Courts as appointed and defined in the Civil Courts Act.

7. The contention, accepted by the learned Subordinate Judge, if upheld, would, in by far a largest number of cases, lead to an absurdity. It has to be borne in mind that according to Section 65, the right of suit provided for in the preceding sections carries with it the right of first appeal, second appeal, revision and review. Let us assume a Munsif has a jurisdiction to try a suit under Section 64, Orissa Hindu Religious Endowments Act, of the highest valuation possible. When his decree is to be appealed from which is the forum? There is no provision however that under any circumstances whatsoever, an appeal from a decree passed by the Munsif would lie directly to the High Court. The decrees passed by him are appealable to the Court of the District Judge or Subordinate Judge. Suppose, he passes a decree in a suit of which the valuation is Rs, 50,000: no appeal can lie either to the District Judge or to the Subordinate Judge. In such cases then the right of appeal is lost to the party. That, however, very clearly is not the intention of the Legislature in enacting Section 65. It is a well-settled rule of construction of statutes that they should be reasonably construed and any construction that would lead to absurdities will never be given countenance to.

8. In these circumstances, it is difficult to uphold the order of the learned Additional Subordinate Judge. I hold that he had jurisdiction to entertain the suit and set aside his order. The appeal is, therefore, allowed, but in the peculiar circumstances of the case, there will be no order for costs. It is represented to us by the appellant's learned Counsel that in pursuance of the order of the Additional Subordinate Judge he has lodged his plaint with the Munsif, who is, therefore, directed to return the same to the plaintiff in order to be filed before the Subordinate Judge of Cuttack.

Narasimham J.

9. I agree with my Lord the Chief Justice.


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