P.V. Rajamannar, C.J.
1. These two Revision Petitions arise out of two applications made by the respondent under Section 4(1) of the Madras Cultivating Tenants Protection Act (XXV of 1955) as amended by Madras Act XIV of 1956. Alleging that they were forcibly evicted about the commencement of the agricultural year 1956-1957, the respondents applied for restoration of possession of the lands covered by the petitions. For the purpose of these revision petitions it is not necessary to refer to the pleas put forward by the counter-petitioners who contested the petitions. It suffices to refer to only one of such pleas, namely, that the petitions are barred by limitation. The Revenue Court dealt with this objection in the following way:
A contention that the petition is barred by limitation was also raised in the counter. This was answered by saying that the delay in filing the petition had already been condoned in the cases and both the cases had been taken on the file only thereafter under the discretionary powers vested in the Court as per provisions of Section 4(3).
2. The Revenue Court also overruled the other pleas raised by the counter-petitioners and directed that both the petitioners be restored to possession of the respective lands claimed by them. The landlords have filed these revision petitions. Mr. G.R. Jagadisa Ayyar appearing for the petitioners pressed upon me again the contention that the petitions were barred by limitation. The relevant provision runs thus:
Section 4(1). - Every cultivating tenant who was in possession of any land on the 1st December, 1953 and who is not in possession thereof at the commencement of this Act shall, on application to the Revenue Divisional Officer, be entitled to be restored to such possession on the seine terms as those applicable to the possession of the land on the 1st December, 1953.
Section 4(3). - Every application to a Revenue Divisional Officer under Sub-section (1) shall be made within thrity days from the commencement of this Act, and shall bear a Court-fee stamp of one rupee:
Provided that the application may be received after the period of thirty days aforesaid, if the applicant satisfies die Revenue Divisional Officer that he had sufficient cause for not making the application within the period.
3. Mr. Jagadisa Ayyar referred to Sub-section (5) of Section 4 which was newly added by the amending Act XIV of 1956 which runs thus:
Any cultivating tenant who after the commencement of this Act has been evicted except under the provisions of Sub-section (4) of Section 3 shall be entitled to apply to the Revenue Divisional Officer within two months from the date of such eviction or within two months from the date of coming into force of the Madras Cultivating Tenants Protection (Amendment) Act, 1956, for the restoration to him of the possession of the lands from which he was evicted and to hold them with all the rights and subject to all the liabilities of a cultivating tenant. The provisions of Sub-section (4) shall, so far as may be, apply to such an application.
4. The material dates for the purpose of deciding the question of limitation are these. The petitioners were evicted on 15th April, 1956. The application for restoration was made on 7th December, 1956. Act XIV of 1956 came into force on 1st October, 1956. The contention of Mr. Jagadisa Ayyar was that this new Sub-section (5) would apply and under that provision the period of limitation is two months from the date of eviction or two months from the date of the coming into force of the Amendment Act, that is, 1st October, 1956. On either calculation the applications which were filed on 7th December, 1956, were barred. In my opinion this contention is based on a fallacy. The proper provision which applies to this case in not Sub-section (5) but Sub-section (1) of Section 4. Madras Act XXV of 1955 when it was orginally passed did not extend to the areas in which the provisions of the Tanjore Tenants and Pannaiyal Protection Act, 1952 (Madras Act XIV of 1952) were in force. Admittedly the lands in question are situated in that area. Therefore, Madras Act XXV of 1955 did not apply as it stood when it was passed. But then came the Amending Act XIV of 1956 in and by which the Act was extended to the Tanjore area as well. Consequent on this extension an Explanation was added in the following terms:
5. In relation to areas where the Tanjore Tenants and Pannaiyal Protection Act, 1952 (Madras Act XIV of 1952), and to areas where the South Kanara Cultivating Tenants Protection Act, 1954 (Madras Act VI of 1954), were in force immediately before the date of coming into force of the Madras Cultivating Tenants Protection (Amendment) Act, 1956, the expression 'commencement of this Act' wherever it occurs in this Act shall be construed as referring to the date aforesaid.
6. The expression 'at the commencement of this Act ' in Section 4(1) should be construed as 1st October, 1956, when Madras Act XIV of 1956 came into force. In this case undoubtedly the petitioners were cultivating tenants who were in possession of land on 1st December, 1953, and were not in possession on 1st October, 1956, having been dispossessed in April, 1956. The applications were properly made under Section 4(1). The result is that the provisions of Sub-section (3) of Section 4 along with the Proviso would apply. The limitation would be thirty days from 1st October, 1956. Of course the applications were not in time under this sub-section ; but under the Proviso the applications could be received even after the period of thirty days if the applicants satisfied the Revenue Divisional Officer that they had sufficient cause for not making the applications within that period. It appears that there were applications by the tenants praying that the delay may h& excused and the Revenue Divisional Officer on satisfying himself that there was sufficient cause for the delay condoned it and received the petitions on file. Admittedly notice of the application for excusing the delay did not go to the petitioners before me, that is, the landlords. Mr. Jagadisa Ayyar contended that the landlords should have been permitted to show cause why the delay should not have been excused because the order excusing the delay was passed without notice to the landlords. I see considerable force in this contention. Once thirty days elapsed from the' commencement of Madras Act XIV of 1956, the landlords in this case obtained, so to say, a vested right against any claim for restoration of possession. By the Revenue Eivisional Officer excusing the delay and receiving the applications for restoration of possession, such rights which had inhered in the landlords were being jeopardised. In such circumstances, the landlords should have been heard. It might be in general practice inconvenient to hear the landlords at the time when the applications are presented; but it should certainly be open to them to canvass the order passed by the Revenue Divisional Officer condoning the delay. It is clear that the revenue Court did not take this view. It did not give any opportunity to the landlords-petitioners to show cause that the delay should not have been excused in the circumstances. I am therefore compelled to send back the two applications to the revenue Court to decide the question whether the delay in presentation of the applications could be excused because the tenants had sufficient cause for not making the applications within the period allowed.
7. I see no reason to interfere otherwise with the order of the revenue Court on the merits. The cases are being remanded soley to decide the question abovementioned. The Civil Revision Petitions are allowed to this extent and the application made by the tenants are remitted to the revenue Court for disposal in the light of this judgment. No order as to costs.