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Veeramma Vs. Abbiah and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectLimitation
CourtChennai
Decided On
Judge
Reported in(1895)ILR18Mad99
AppellantVeeramma
RespondentAbbiah and anr.
Cases ReferredGirija Nath Roy Bahadur v. Patani Bibee I.L.R.
Excerpt:
.....xv of 1877, section 7--registration act--act iii of 1877, section 77--suit by infant to enforce registration--special rule of limitation. - - 2. act iii of 1877 appears to be a special act complete in itself, and according to a well-established rule for the construction of statutes it should be presumed that the legislature did not intend by a general enactment to interfere with it. 18. further, the object of the registration act in prescribing compulsory registration within a determinate and short period is to prevent fabrication of documents and that object will be defeated if the time for registration is indefinitely prolonged during to continuance of disabilities. 210 and am clearly of opinion that the language of the section does not evince any intention to qualify the..........1859. in the new section 6 it is provided that nothing therein contained shall affect or alter the period specially prescribed by any special law. it is contended that, although in the absence of any such provision a special rule of limitation should be treated as complete in itself and unaffected by the general law of limitation, the effect of this section is to make the general law of limitation applicable to special cases in all matters save the length of the period proscribed. thus, in a suit under the registration act, the plaintiff could, it is argued, take advantage of any of the sections 5th or 7th or 8th, 14th, 18th or 19th of the act of limitation, f cannot believe that this was the intention of the legislature, nor do i think that section 6 will bear this construction. it.....
Judgment:

Arthur J.H. Collins, C.J.

1. The question referred to a Full Bench is whether the provisions of Section 7 of the Limitation Act are applicable to, and govern, a suit for which special provision is made by Section 77 of the Registration Act.

2. Act III of 1877 appears to be a Special Act complete in itself, and according to a well-established rule for the construction of statutes it should be presumed that the Legislature did not intend by a general enactment to interfere with it. Lord Hatherley, when Vice-Chancellor in Fitzgerald v. Champneys 50 L.J. (Ch.) 777 at page 782, thus states the proposition of law: 'The reason is that the Legislature having had its attention directed to a special subject and observed all the circumstances of the case and provided for them, does not intend by a general enactment afterwards to derogate from its own act when it makes no special mention of its intention to do so.'

3. Section 77 of Act III of 1877 enacts that, when the Registrar refuses to order the document to be registered under Section 72 or 76, any person claiming under such document or his representative, assign or agent may within thirty days after the making of the order of refusal institute in the Civil Court a suit for a decree directing the document to be registered.

4. It appears to me that it was the intention of the Legislature that questions affecting the registration of deeds should be as soon as possible decided; and to allow a number of years to elapse, as in the case of a minor, would be to defeat the intention of the Act.

5. A Full Bench of the Calcutta Court in Nagendro Nath Mullick v. Mathura Mohun Parhi I.L.R. 18 Cal. 368 have decided that the provisions of Section 14 of Act XV of 1877 are not applicable for arrears of rent under Act X of 1859, on the ground that Act X of 1859 is a Code complete in itself.

6. I am, therefore, of opinion that Act III of 1877 being a special Act complete in itself, the provisions of Section 7 of the Limitation Act do not apply.

Muttusami Ayyar, J.

7. The question referred for the opinion of the Full Bench is whether Section 7 of the General Act of Limitations governs a suit instituted under Section 77 of the Indian Registration Act. The latter enactment refers specially to the subject of registration, and Section 77 provides that, when the Registrar refuses to order a document to be registered under Section 72 or Section 76, any person claiming under such document or his representative, assign or agent may, within thirty days after the making of the order of refusal, institute a suit for a decree directing the document to be registered in such office, if it be duly presented for registration within thirty days after the passing of such decree. Section 7 of the General Act of Limitations enacts that if a person entitled to institute a suit be, at the time from which the period of limitation is to be reckoned, a minor or insane or an idiot, he may institute the suit within the same period after the disability has ceased as would otherwise have been allowed from the time prescribed therefor, by the third column of the second schedule thereto annexed. The question for determination is whether a suit under Section 77 of Act III of 1877 may be instituted within the time prescribed therefor after the cessation of the disability. Our decision must depend on the construction to be put on Section 6 of the Limitation Act and on the nature of Act III of 1877 as a Code complete in itself on the subject of limitation.

8. The general rule is no doubt that laid down in Abergavenny v. Brace L.R. 7 Ex. 170 viz. that a statute prescribing rules for special subjects is not controlled by subsequent legislation of a general character. But the operation of this rule may be precluded in regard to particular enactments either by express legislation or by the inference which may be drawn from the character of a special enactment as a complete code or otherwise. The question must resolve itself ultimately into one of intention of the Legislature either express or implied.

9. I may here refer to two decisions of the Privy Council which illustrate and explain the principles that ought to guide our decision as to implied intention. The case of Mohummud Bahadoor Khan v. The Collector of Bareilly L.R. 1 IndAp 167 is an authority for the proposition that Act IX of 1859 is a special enactment complete in itself and that its provisions are such as do not permit of Section 6 of the General Limitation Act being imported into them without incongruity. Their Lordships of the Privy Council observe in that case as follows: 'That Act was passed for the special purpose of providing a Court for the adjudication of claims of innocent persons upon the property of rebels which had been forfeited to the Government. It established a special Court consisting of three Commissioners and suspended the action of all other Courts in respect of such claims. Special modes of proceeding are established and various clauses in the Act refer to that special course of procedure. There are also provisions in the Act which relate not merely to the Court so established and the procedure under it, but are of a general character and apply to the property forfeited in whatever court claims may be made regarding it. Section 20 provided that no suits brought by any party in respect to such property shall be entertained unless it be instituted within the period of one year from the date of the attachment or seizure of the property to which the suit relates. It was said that the clauses in the General Statute, Act XIV of 1859, relating to disabilities might be imported into the Act, but this cannot be properly done. Act XIV is a Code of Limitation of general application, while this Act is of a special kind and does not admit of those enactments being to it.'

10. Again, in Musmmat Phoolbas Koonwar v. Lalla Jogeshnr Sahoy L.R. 3 IndAp 7 the question arose whether a suit brought under Section 246 of Act VIII of 1859 is governed by Sections 11 and 12 of Act XIV of 1859. The Judicial Committee then held that the appellant in that case was under disability within the meaning of those sections, and that the suit having been brought during disability, though after the expiration of one year, was brought in time. Their Lordships explained the grounds of decision in these terms: 'The two statutes (Acts VIII and XIV of 1859) were passed in the same year. The object of the first was to enact a general Code of Procedure for the Courts of Civil Judicature not established by Royal Charter. The object of the second was to establish a general law of limitation in supersession both of the regulations which had governed those Courts and of the English statutes which had regulated the practice of the Courts established by Royal Charter. Looking to the fifth sub-section of the 1st Section and the 3rd and 11th Sections of Act XIV of 1859, their Lordships have no doubt that the intention of the Legislature was that the period of limitation resulting from Section 246 of Act VIII of 1859 should in the case of a minor be modified by the operation of the 11th Section of Act XIV, and that this construction has obtained in the Courts in India appears from the case cited--Huro Soonduree Chowdhrain v. Anundnath Roy Chowdhry 3 W.R. Civil Rulings 8.'

11. Adverting to the previous decision they say: 'That case is distinguishable from the present. It arose upon a very special statute and upon that ground the judgment rests.'

12. These cases were decided with reference to Act XIV of 1859, Section 3 of which is subtantially the same as Section 6 of the present Limitation Act, and they are authorities for the proposition that, when the Act to be modified by Section 6 is of a very special kind, complete in itself, and it does not admit of the several provisions of the Limitation Act being imported into it without incongruity and without defeating the intention of the Legislature, it is not controlled by the general provisions of the Limitation Act.

13. As regards Section 6 of the Limitation Act, it is in these terms: 'When, by any special or local law now or hereafter in force in British India, a period of limitation is specially prescribed for any suit, nothing herein contained shall affect or alter the period so prescribed.' The language of the corresponding section in Act IX of 1871 was to the effect that nothing therein contained shall affect that law. Act XIV of 1.859, Section 3, provided that when by any law now or hereafter to be in force, a shorter period of limitation is prescribed, such shorter limitation shall be applied, notwithstanding this Act. The question is how and whether the alteration of the language of Section 6 of Act IX of 1871 is material or significant. It is contended that the present Act only explains Act IX of 1871, but I am unable to accede to this contention. It appears to he significant, when regard is had to the course of legislation on the question of limitation. Prior to 1859, there were different systems of limitation laws, not only in different Presidencies but also in different Courts in the same Presidency. In 1842, the Indian Law Commissioners framed a bill embodying a uniform law of limitation for all the Courts in British India. With some amendments suggested by Sir James Colville and Sir Barnes Peacock, Act XIV of 1859 was framed on that bill. But the Privy Council since remarked that it was an inartistically drawn statute, and Act IX of 1871 was then framed on a scientific plan, Act XV of 1877 reproducing it with certain important amendments. The scheme of the present Act consists in dividing the limitation law into four parts and in collecting the preliminary rules into the first part, certain rules of general application and rules relating to computation of the period of limitation into the second and third parts and in appending to them a tricolumnar schedule specifying the several descriptions of suits, the period of limitation in regard to each, and the time from which the period begins to run, The scientific arrangement according to which rules of limitation are classified and distributed gives a significance to the substitution of the words 'affect or alter the period prescribed' for the words 'affect or alter that law.' The course of legislation also discloses an intention to limit the operation of special or local laws, as a general rule, to the periods mentioned therein, unless they are Codes complete in themselves, and to restore Act XIV of 1859 which confined their operation to the short periods prescribed and to repeal Act IX of 1871 which excluded all provisions of the general law of limitations.

14. There is another standpoint from which the alteration of language appears to he material. There are various Local and Special Acts now in force, and all of them are not so framed as to be complete and independent Codes so far as they relate to limitation, and this probably created the necessity for embodying in Section 6 a general direction applicable to those Special or Local Acts which are not from their frame complete Codes. There is considerable authority in support of this view. I may first refer to the two decisions of the Privy Council already cited which were passed when Act XIV of 1859 was in force. I shall next refer to three cases decided by the High Court at Calcutta. In Golap Chand Nowluckha v. Krishto Chunder Dass Biswas I.L.R. 5 Cal. 314 it was held that Section 5[1] of the Limitation Act applied to stats instituted under Section 30 of Bengal Act VIII of 1859, and the ground of decision was that the language of Section G of the present Act of Limitations as compared with that of Section 6 of Act IX of 1871 suggests that it was the intention of the Legislature to give to persons suing under the Special Act, the benefit of the general provisions of the General Limitation Act. The next case is that of Nijabutoola v. Wazir Ali I.L.R. 8 Cal. 910 In that case Section 5 of the General Limitation Act was applied to a suit brought under Section 77 of the Registration Act, the ratio decidendi being that the proper interpretation to be put on Section 5 considered together with Section 6 is that, except as defined in Section 6, the general provisions of the Limitation Act are applicable to cases for which short periods of limitation are specially provided by local or special laws. The third case is that of Khettar Mohun Chuckerbutty v. Dinahashy Shaha I.L.R. 10 Cal. 267 decided by Sir R. Garth, C.J., and Mr. Justice O'Kinealy, which approved of the interpretation placed on Section 6 in Golap Chand Nowluckha v. Krishto Chunder Dass Biswas I.L.R. 5 Cal. 314 and Nijabitoola v. Wazvr Ali I.L.R. 8 Cal. 910 and applied Section 14 of Act XV of 1877 to a suit instituted under Section 77 of the Registration Act.

14. In Guracharya v. The President of the Belgaum Town Municipalities I.L.R. 8 Bom. 529 the Bombay High Court approved of the decision in Golap Chand Nowluckha v. Krishto Chunder Dass Biswas I.L.R. 5 Cal. 314 and applied Section 14 of the General Limitation Act to the suit before them. In the reference made under the Forest Act, the High Court at Madras followed the Calcutta decision and applied Section 5 of the general provisions to an appeal preferred under Section 14 of the Forest Act. This decision was again allowed in the case of Kullayappa v. Lakshmipathi I.L.R. 12 Mad. 467 wherein it was held that Section 14 of the Limitation Act applied to a suit brought under Section 78 of the Rent Recovery Act and in the decision Mahadevi v. Vikrama I.L.R. 14 Mad. 365 It is true that the decision of a Divisional Bench of the High Court at Calcutta in Girija Nath Roy Bahadur v. Patani Bibee I.L.R. 17 Cal. 264 and the decision of the Full Bench in Nagendro Nath Mullick v. Mathura Mohun Parhi I.L.R. 18 Cal. 371 are in conflict with the previous decisions, but the conflict is rather apparent than real. In the former, the special law under which the suit was brought was Bengal Act VIII of 1869. The Court observed that that Act not only prescribed a special period of limitation for suits to recover arrears of rent, but also prescribed rules relating to other matters. The learned Judges also laid stress on the language of Section 7, in particular on the words 'in the third column of second schedule hereto annexed' as being words of reference to the General Limitation Act only. The suit referred to in Nagendro Nath Mullick v. Mathuara Mohun Parhi I.L.R. 18 Cal. 371 was brought under Act X of 1859 and the learned Judges observed that Act X of 1859 had always been considered to be a Code complete in itself and unaffected by the General Laws of Limitation. Belying therefore on the principles laid down by the Privy Council in Mohummud Buhadoor Khan v. The Collector of Bareilly L.R. 1 IndAp 167 and Mussumat Phoolbas Koonwur v Lalla Jogeshur Sahoy L.R. 3 IndAp 7 the conclusion I come to, both on the construction of Section 6 of Act XV of 1877 and on authority, is that the general provisions of the last-mentioned Act modifying the operation of Special or Local Acts, unless they are complete Codes in themselves, are not on that ground affected by the General Act of Limitations.

15. The next question which arises for decision is whether Act III of 1877 is a Code complete in itself, so as to render it incongruous to import into it the general provisions of the; Limitation Act. I have already referred to the language of Section 77 and certainly it discloses an intention to fix a short period of limitation not only for instituting a suit under that section, but also for the enforcement of the decree mentioned therein.

16. Again, Section 77 pre-supposes an order by the Registrar refusing registration under Section 72; and Section 71 directs him to state his reasons for such refusal. By Section 23 a Registrar is bound to refuse to register an instrument unless it is presented for registration within four months from the date of its execution. By Sections 24 and 25 the time proscribed for presentation of the document for registration is extended by four months more subject to certain conditions. Take for instance, the case of a refusal by the Registrar on the ground that the document was not presented within the proscribed time,--and I do not think that the Civil Courts can set aside an order of refusal which is based on those sections which disclose an intention to enforce presentation for registration within a determinate period.

17. Again, Section 32 provides that every document must be presented for registration by some person executing or claiming under the instrument or by the representative or assign of such person or by the agent of such person. This section does not apparently contemplate the case of disability, and make a special provision in regard to it and the probable inference is that when a document is executed in favour of a minor, his legal guardian is takers to represent him for the purpose of registering it. It must also be remembered that the right to register a document is a right created by the Act and when it prescribes a remedy for its exercise and limits the time for such exercise the remedy must ordinarily be taken to be what is provided therein.

18. Further, the object of the Registration Act in prescribing compulsory registration within a determinate and short period is to prevent fabrication of documents and that object will be defeated if the time for registration is indefinitely prolonged during to continuance of disabilities.

19. Thus, there are detailed rules in the Registration Act showing that the intention is to proscribe a determinate time for registration as of the essence of the Act and that indefinite extension is likely to defeat the object of registration. I am of opinion that it would be incongruous to import into it the general provisions of the Limitation Act, and on this ground I hold that the Registration Act in of a special kind, in that it discloses an intention to proscribe a specific and determinate period for registration, and that it contains rules of limitation complete in themselves. I therefore answer the question in the negative.

Shephard, J.

20. The question is whether the provisions of the Limitation Act with regard to disabilities are applicable to a suit brought under Section 77 of the Registration Act. Section 77 is the last of a series of sections directing the course to be adopted on the refusal of the Sub-Registrar or Registrar to register a document. By Section 72 provision is made for an appeal against the order of the Sub-Registrar not being made on the ground of denial of execution. The section requires the appeal to be presented within thirty days from the date of the order. In the case of the Sub-Registrar refusing to register on the ground of denial of execution, Section 73 provides that the party aggrieved may apply to the Registrar in order to establish Ids right to have the document registered. That section also requires the application to be made within thirty days of the date of the order. In the enquiry which the Registrar holds on such application the Registrar exercises judicial functions and has the ordinary powers of a civil Court. In the event of the Registrar refusing to register a document whether in the first instance presented to himself or to the Sub-Registrar, Section 77 provides for a remedy by a suit in the civil Court. Again, the section requires the suit to be brought within thirty days from the date of the order of refusal. It seems clear that the intention of the Legislature was in all these cases alike to reduce to the shortest limits the time in which parties aggrieved by a Sub Registrar's or Registrar's orders might take action. As is the case with other statutes limiting specially the time in which the acts of public officials may be impugned no provision is made for the case of disabilities or for the other cases in which according to the Limitation Act time does not run against the plaintiff or some deduction is made in computing the period of limitation, The exception in favour of infants is not one which is necessarily implied in statutes of Limitation. When the words in their ordinary rand common signification are sufficient to include infants, the virtual exception must be drawn from the intention of the Legislature, manifested by other parts of the law, from the general purpose and design of the law, and from the subject-matter of it.' Beckford v. Wade 17 Ves. 87

21. I cannot find any manifestation of such intention in the Registration Act, nor do I think it can be said that there is any hardship in requiring an aggrieved person to take action within a month although he may happen to be under a disability. In the transaction which has led up to the execution of a document, the person interested as purchaser, if himself incapable of action, must have had some representative or agent to act for him, and Section 77 provides that the representative or agent of any person claiming under the document may institute the suit in case of refusal to register.

22. It was argued for the plaintiff that an intention on the part of the Legislature to engraft exceptions on the general words of the Act hats been manifested in the Limitation Act, 1877.

23. According to the Limitation Act in force when the Registration Act was passed, it is quite clear that no allowance could be made for the disability of the plaintiff not provided for by any special Act, for Section 6 of the Act of 1871 expressly saves any law by which a period of limitation differing from that proscribed by the Act is specially prescribed. In the latter Act of 1877, Section 6 appears in a different form, more nearly resembling the language of Section 3 of the Act of 1859. In the new Section 6 it is provided that nothing therein contained shall affect or alter the period specially prescribed by any special law. It is contended that, although in the absence of any such provision a special rule of limitation should be treated as complete in itself and unaffected by the general law of limitation, the effect of this section is to make the general law of limitation applicable to special cases in all matters save the length of the period proscribed. Thus, in a suit under the Registration Act, the plaintiff could, it is argued, take advantage of any of the Sections 5th or 7th or 8th, 14th, 18th or 19th of the Act of Limitation, f cannot believe that this was the intention of the Legislature, nor do I think that Section 6 will bear this construction. It appears to me that the period fixed by a special law is affected if not altered, when by virtue of the general law of limitation the starting point is altered and the period is made to begin on the cessation of the plaintiff's disability. According to this contention the plaintiff' is entitled to thirty days computed from the last mentioned date instead of thirty days computed from the date of the order as provided in the Registration Act. I am unable to accept the construction put upon the section in some of the cases Behari Loll Mookerjee v. Mungolanath Mookerjee I.L.R. 5 Cal. 110, Reference under Forest Act of 1882 I.L.R. 10 Mad. 210 and am clearly of opinion that the language of the section does not evince any intention to qualify the operation of the Registration Act in respect of the provision contained in Section 77.

24. With regard to the authorities I find a great fluctuation of opinion. The most important and recent decision is that of the Full Bench of Calcutta with reference to a case under the Act X of 1859, Being of opinion that that enactment was a Code complete in itself, the Court held that the provisions of Section 14 of the Limitation Act were not applicable to a suit brought under it. Nagendro Nath Mullick v. Mathura Mohun Parhi I.L.R. 18 Cal. 368 In an earlier case the same Court arrived at a like conclusion with reference to Section 7 of the Limitation Act and some stress was laid on the language of this section Girija Nath Roy Bahadur v. Patani Bibee I.L.R. 17 Cal. 267 The Full Bench decision is in accordance with the principle laid down by the Privy Council in a case relating to a claim to recover confiscated property for which special provision was made by Act IX of 1859, See Kery Kolitany v. Moneeram Kolita 13 B.L.R. 60; Mohummud Buhadoor Khan v. The Collector of Bareilly L.R. 1 IndAp 167 ; Phoolbas Koonwur v. Lalla Jogeshur Sahoy I.L.R. 1 Cal. 242; Poulson v. Madhusudan Pal Chowdhry B.L.R. Sup. 101 The present case is, I think, within the principle of these decisions. On the other hand, there are certainly several decisions in the other sense including decisions of the Bengal High Court and of this Court. In two of them a suit under the Registration Act was in question, Nijabutoolla v. Wazir Ali I.L.R. 8 Cal. 910; Khetter Mohun Chuckebutty v. Dinabashy Shaha I.L.R. 10 Cal. 265 Here there have been similar decisions with reference to the Forest Act and the Rent Act. Reference under Forest Act of I.L.R. 1882 Mad. 210 and Kullayappa v. Lakshmipathi I.L.R. 12 Mad. 471 see however In re Syed Mohidin Hussen Saheb 8 M.H.C.R. 44 and Thir Sing v. Venkataramier I.L.R. 3 Mad. 92 Except the case in Girija Nath Roy Bahadur v. Patani Bibee I.L.R. 17 Cal. 267 no decision with reference to the provision for disabilities was cited. I am unable to find any similar English case and this want of authority is, I think, significant, as there arc several statutes relating to public bodies and official acts prescribing special rules of limitation and not providing for disabilities (see Darby and Bosanqnet's Treatise on Limitation in page 669).

25. In my opinion the question submitted to us must be answered in the negative.

26. This second appeal then came on for final disposal before Collins, C.J., and Shephard, J., and the Court delivered the following judgment:


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