P.V. Rajamannar, C.J.
1. The point involved in this appeal against the judgment of Rajagopalan, J., is very simple. The following facts suffice to bring out the point:
On 21st May, 1954 the Assistant Settlement Officer made an order granting Patta to the respondent. The appellants - legal representatives of one Chandra Gopanna, feeling aggrieved by this order had preferred an appeal to the Abolition Tribunal on the 13th February, 1956 under Section 15(2) of Act XXVI of 1948. Section 15(2) of the Act as it stood on the 21st of May, 1954, the date of the order, appealed against ran thus:
Any person deeming himself aggrieved by a decision of the Settlement Officer under Sub-section (1) may within two months from the date of the decision or such further time as the Tribunal, may in its discretion allow, appeal to the tribunal, and its decision shall be final and not be liable to be questioned in any Court of law.
2. This sub-section was subsequently amended by Madras Act XXXIV of 1954 which came into force on 19th January, 1955. The material portions of the amendment for the purpose of this appeal is the proviso to Sub-section 2(a) namely:
Provided that the Tribunal may in its discretion, allow further time not exceeding six months for the filing of any such appeal.
It is therefore clear that on the date on which the appellants preferred the appeal to the Abolition Tribunal, Section 15(2) contained the proviso which had been added by the amendment in 1954 under which the power of the Tribunal to allow further time in its discretion was limited to six months. In spite of the objection raised on behalf of the respondent before us the Tribunal held that it had jurisdiction to condone the delay in the presentation of the appeal even though more than six months had elapsed since the date of the order and also held on the merits that the appellants had made out a case for condonation of the delay. By its order, dated 10th August, 1956 the Tribunal directed that the delay may be excused and the further hearing of the appeal be proceeded with. To quash this order and to direct the issue of a writ of certiorari the respondent applied under Article 226 of the Constitution in W.P. No. 982 of 1956. Rajagopalan, J., who heard and disposed of the petition allowed it and set aside the order of the Tribunal dated 10th August, 1956 as having been passed in excess of the jurisdiction vested in it. The learned Judge took the view that the statutory provision regulating the jurisdiction of the Tribunal to condone delays in preferring appeals to it on the date when the respondents 2 to 4 preferred the appeal was Section 15(2)(a) and amended by Act XXXIV of 1954 and that limited the jurisdiction of the Tribunal to six months. The change in the procedural law applied to circumstances prevailing on the date of the filing of the appeal. He upheld the objection raised by the respondent.
3. It was contended by Mr. Gopalakrishnan on behalf of the appellants that the party who felt aggrieved by the order, dated 21st May, 1954 had a vested right to take advantage of the provisions of Section 15(2) as it stood on that date, 21st May, 1954, that is to say, before the Amended Act came into force; and as that provision gave unlimited jurisdiction to the Tribunal to allow an appeal to be admitted even after the expiry of two months after the decision, the learned Judge was wrong in holding that the Tribunal's power was restricted to six months. The fallacy of this argument, in our opinion, is to treat a vested right of appeal and an opportunity to avail on self of the discretionary power of a Tribunal or Court to extend the time for presentation of an appeal as standing on the same footing. While one can understand a right of appeal to a superior Tribunal from the order of an inferior Tribunal as a vested right it is impossible to say and no authority has been cited in support of the proposition that any party has got a vested right to seek the indulgence from a Court to excuse the delay in the presentation of an appeal. If this be so, we fail to see how the appellants can rely upon the provisions of Section 15(2) as it stood before the amendment to the appeal which was filed long after the amendment had come into force.
4. Another way of looking at the question is from the point of view of the Tribunal. The Tribunal is a body with limited authority which has been conferred on it by the Statute. At any given point of time, it can only exercise such powers as it has under the Statute under which it is functioning. On the date when the appeal was presented by the appellants before it the powers which it had of excusing the delay in the presentation were those contained in Section 15(2)(a) read with the proviso introduced by the Amending Act XXXIV of 1954. The Tribunal cannot invoke power which it had at one time but which had been taken away from it. It cannot certainly exercise a power which was no longer subsisting in it.
5. We agree with the reasoning and conclusion of the learned Judge and dismiss, the appeal with costs. Advocate's fee Rs. 100.