1. This appeal raises a question of limitation. Ex. D is a cowle deed executed on 2nd May, 1891, which was to operate for a period of 16 years. The suit was filed on 2nd May, 1919. The District Munsif found that it was in time. The Sub-Judge in first appeal was of opinion that the lease expired at the end of the year Parabhava--about 13th April, 1917--and held that the suit was out of time. In Second Appeal Phillips, J., agreed with the Subordinate judge.
2. There is some controversy as to the correct translation of the. relevant portion of the deed. Mr. Lakshmanna for the appellant contends that the proper translation is 'from this year Parabhava year included for 16 years'. Mr. Rama Rao, on the other side, accepts the version adopted by the Subordinate Judge 'from this year to Parabhava inclusive 16 years'. The translation in the printed record is '16 years, i. e., from this year till the end of the Telugu year Parabhava'. We have had a fourth translation made in this Court and it is 'for 16 years from this year to the year Parabhava inclusive'. For the purpose of argument we will assume that the third version '16 years from this year till the end of the Telugu year Parabhava' is correct and that the parties to the deed meant it to run for 16 Telugu years. It was, of course, executed several days after the beginning of the Telugu year Khara and, if the lease was to expire at the end of Parabhava, the full term would have been something less than 16 Telugu years. Mr. Lakshmanna takes his stand on Section 25 of the Limitation Act. That section reads as follows:
All instruments shall, for the purpose of this Act, be deemed to be made with reference to the Gregorian Calendar.
3. Nothing could be more unconditional. if a question of limitation arises, the instrument must be deemed to have been made with reference to the Gregorian Calendar, the intention of the parties being quite immaterial. The rule is an obvious rule of convenience in a country like this, where there are many calendars, each of which divides the year in a different manner. We have been referred to no decision of this Court in which Section 25 of the Limitation Act has been considered. The earliest case cited before us conies from Bombay, Nilkantha v. Daltatraya ILR (1879) B 103. The head-note runs:
Where a bond bears a native date only, and is made payable after a certain time, that time, whether denoted by the month or the year, is to be computed according to the Gregorian Calendar.
The next is also a Bombay case, Rungo Bujaji v. Babaji ILR (1881) B 83. The note was dated Ashad Vadya 13th, Shake 1799, corresponding with 7th August 1877. The stipulation was for payment 'in the month Kartik, Shake 1799, that is to say in 4 months' and the suit was filed on 6th December, 1880. If the 4 months' period was to be computed with reference to the Indian Calendar the suit was 4 days out of time. With reference to the Gregorian it was in time, although the 6th December did not fall within the month of Kartik. The High Court agreed that the true construction of the note was that the maker was to pay within 4 lunar months, i. c, in the month of Kartik, but held that Section 25 was absolute and that there was no saving of cases in which it appeared on the face of the contract that lunar months were intended by the parties. This decision was followed by Beverley, J., in Latifunnessa v. Dhan Kunwar ILR (1897) C 382. The mortgage bond in question was dated 14th June, 1876 and stipulated that the money should be repaid 'in the month of Jeyth 1289 Fasli, being a period of 6 years'. The last day of Jeyth 1289 corresponded with the 1st June, 1882, the period of 6 years ended on 14th June, 1882 and the suit was brought on 12th June, 1894. Beverley, J., ruled that the money fell due oh the 14th June, 1882 and that the suit was in time. Ameer Ali, J., doubted the correctness of the ruling, but was not prepared to dissent from it. He thought that the question was one of the intention of the parties and that Section 25 of the Limitation Act did not apply. If, as we think, Section 25 did apply, the question of the intention of the parties was irrelevant.
4. A different view has been taken in two cases from Allahabad. In Dwarka Prasad v. Raja Rain (1915)13 ALJ 486 the decisions above referred to were dissented from. The deed under consideration which was dated 24th July, 1892, provided that the mortgage amount should be repayable in 8 years in 8 instalments, each instalment being payable on Magh Sudi Puranmashi. The 8th Magh Sudi Puranmashi fell on 14th February, 1900 and the suit was filed on 19th July, 1912. The Court held that the whole question turned on the intention of the parties, which was that the last payment now to fall due on 14th February and that Section 25 did not apply. With great respect we are unable to see why Section 25 did not apply. The mortgage was to run for 8 years and those years, under Section 25, had to be computed according to the Gregorian Calendar. The other Allahabad case is reported in Roshan Lal v. Chaudhri Bashir Ahmad ILR (1924) A 66. The bond in question was dated 10th July, 1908, and the principal was repayable in three years. Interest was to be paid every six months calculated according to the Hindi Calendar. The suit was filed on 10th January, 1921. If six months of the Hindi Calendar were added to the date of the bond, limitation began to run before 10th January, 1909. If, on the other hand, 6 Gregorian Calendar months were added, the suit was in time. The Court held that it was a matter of construction in every case. The true principle was laid down to be this 'If the starting point is to be calculated as so many months or so many years from a particular date, that point must be calculated according to the Gregorian Calendar. On the other hand, if the starting point is otherwise fixed by the stipulation itself, the Court cannot apply Section 25 of the Limitation Act.' In the result, the Court found that the suit was out of time. On the principle laid down we think that it was in time. The starting point was fixed by the deed itself. The first instalment of interest had to be paid in six months from 10th July, 1908 but was not paid. Time therefore began to run from 10th January, 1909. That the parties intended something else is beside the point, as was observed in Rungo Bujaji v. Babaji ILR (1881) B 83 already referred to. Section 25 of the Limitation Act is unconditional. The interest had to be paid in six months from a particular date and that period had, for the purpose of limitation, to be calculated according to the Gregorian Calendar. In this case a Calcutta ruling was referred to with approval--South British Fire and Marine Insurance Co. v. Brojo Nath Saha ILR (1909) C 516, The suit was brought on an insurance policy, which provided, inter alia, that no suit on a claim should be sustainable unless it were begun within six months after the loss or damage. The Court held that, notwithstanding the Indian Limitation Act, the term 'month' meant in India, as in England, a 'lunar' and not 'a calendar month'. The question, however, did not really arise, as the suit was out of time whichever method of computation was adopted. The learned Chief Justice thought that Section 25 had no bearing on the question of the meaning of the word 'month' in a contract drawn up in English, but, when a question of limitation arose, Section 25 had, we think, to be applied and it lays down that, in such a connection, a month must be deemed to be a Gregorian Calendar month and nothing else. We are clearly of opinion that the law has been correctly laid down in Rungo Bujaji v. Babaji ILR (1881) B 83. The cowle was to run for 16 Telugu years from a particular date but, for the purpose of limitation, the years have to be deemed to be Gregorian Calendar years. The suit was therefore in time. The appeal is allowed. The decree of the District Munsif is restored. The decision turning on a question of law which does not appear to have been argued before the Court below, we make no order for costs in this Court. The appellant will have his costs in the Courts below.