1. The first respondent obtained a mortgage decree, and the petitioner purchased the equity of redemption from the receiver in the insolvency of the judgment-debtor. The petitioner applied in R.I.A. No. 470 of 1938 on the file of the District Munsif of Karkal under Section 19 of the Madras Agriculturists' Relief Act to have the decree debt scaled down as against him. The lower Court held that he was not a judgment-debtor and that therefore Section 9 did not apply to his debt.
2. Section 19 says:
Where before the commencement of this Act a Court has passed a decree for the repayment of a debt, it shall, on the application of any judgment-debtor who is an agriculturist...apply the provisions of this Act to such decree and...amend the decree accordingly....
3. It is thus seen that the petitioner cannot have the advantage of this section unless he is a judgment-debtor. The Agriculturists' Relief Act does not define the word 'judgment-debtor' and so we must take it that the ordinary meaning is assigned to that expression. 'Judgment-debtor' is defined in the Civil Procedure Code (Act V of 1908) in Section 2(10) as meaning 'any person against whom a decree has been passed or an order capable of execution has been made'. Clearly, the petitioner is note a judgment-debtor in that sense. The learned Advocate for the petitioner has referred to an old ruling of this Court in Panduranga Mudaliar v. Vythilinga Reddi (1907) 17 M.L.J. 417 : I.L.R. 30 Mad. 537, in which it was held that the provisions of Section 258, Civil Procedure Code, Act XIV of 1882 applied not only to judgment-debtors but to those claiming through them or, in their right. But even there it was not said that persons claiming through judgment-debtors were also judgment-debtors. It only says that Section 258 applied to those claiming through them and in their right as well as to judgment-debtors. We are however not concerned with the Code as it stood then, but with the present Code. It cannot be said that there is anything in the present Code which suggests that 'judgment-debtor' may sometimes mean more than it is defined to mean. No example has been cited to me in which a wider meaning has been given to the word 'judgment-debtor' than is found in the definition itself. It was expressly held in Thiruvengadam Pillai by agent V. Latchmiah v. B. Venkatasubbiah (1912) 13 I.C. 659 that in Order 21, Rule 58 'judgment-debtor' does not include the assignee of a judgment-debtor. Reliance has been placed on a decision of this Court in Perianna Goundan v. Sellappa Goundan : AIR1939Mad186 , which is a decision under this very Act. The learned Judges there were not concerned with the definition of judgment-debtor, but with the definitions of 'debt' and 'debtor'. There, the purchaser of the equity of redemption was made a party to the suit and a decree was passed against him; and so he was undoubtedly a judgment-debtor; but it was argued in that case that as he was not liable personally, his property only being liable, he was not a debtor. That argument was repelled; and it was held that there was nothing in the Madras Agriculturists' Debt Relief Act which distinguished between a personal obligation to pay a debt and an obligation under which only a man's property is liable.
4. The application was therefore rightly decided; for the petitioner was not entitled to the benefit of Section 19. The petition is accordingly dismissed with costs.