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Krishnamachari Vs. Chengalraya Naidu - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectProperty;Limitation
CourtChennai
Decided On
Reported in(1939)2MLJ469
AppellantKrishnamachari
RespondentChengalraya Naidu
Cases ReferredAhmad v. Jawahir Lal
Excerpt:
- - this was clearly a wrong order and it is therefore contended that the application should still be deemed to be undisposed of and thus held to be pending......whether an application for restitution made on the 13th november, 1925, in consequence of an order passed on appeal on the 9th july, 1924, and returned by the court on the ground that an order of an interim injunction restraining the applicant from recovering the amount deposited by him for costs was still in force is still undecided and should therefore be ordered to be proceeded with. two more applications for restitution were presented by the appellant in 1928 and in 1934. they will have to be incidentally considered but as the facts which are going to be stated will show, the decision of this appeal solely depends on the effect of the order passed on the application presented on the 13th november, 1925.2. a preliminary decree for sale instead of redemption of a usufructuary mortgage.....
Judgment:

Abdur Rahman, J.

1. The main question raised by the appellant in this appeal is whether an application for restitution made on the 13th November, 1925, in consequence of an order passed on appeal on the 9th July, 1924, and returned by the Court on the ground that an order of an interim injunction restraining the applicant from recovering the amount deposited by him for costs was still in force is still undecided and should therefore be ordered to be proceeded with. Two more applications for restitution were presented by the appellant in 1928 and in 1934. They will have to be incidentally considered but as the facts which are going to be stated will show, the decision of this appeal solely depends on the effect of the order passed on the application presented on the 13th November, 1925.

2. A preliminary decree for sale instead of redemption of a usufructuary mortgage was passed by a mistake on the 8th November, 192? and costs were ordered to be paid by all the defendants, who were five in number, to the plaintiff. The plaintiff (decree-holder) applied for the recovery of costs on the 11th October, 1923, but the fifth defendant who is the appellant in the present appeal objected on the ground that the decree was preliminary in character and was therefore inexecutable. This objection was overruled by the execution Court. The fifth defendant preferred an appeal against this order in which he was successful and the order of the executing Court was reversed on the 9th July, 1924. In the meantime costs which had been awarded to the plaintiff had been recovered by him from the fifth defendant who applied for restitution after his appeal had been accepted (C.M.P. No. 1257 of 1924). An order for restitution was passed by the executing Court on the 22nd January, 1925. This was appealed against but it was confirmed by the appellate Court. The plaintiff then applied on the 11th November, 1925, for an amendment of the preliminary decree and prayed that the decree for sale, which had been erroneously passed by the Court, be converted into a decree for redemption (C.M.P. No. 357 of 1925). On the same date he applied for a temporary injunction restraining the fifth defendant from realising the costs paid by him, from the plaintiff (C.M.P. No. 390 of 1925). An ex parte order was passed by the execution Court and an interim stay was ordered. The fifth defendant, apparently without any knowledge of this order, presented another application on the 13th November, 1925, asking for restitution but instead of keeping it on the file or adjourning it to a future date, a curious procedure was observed by the executing Court. The petition for restitution was returned on the 18th November, 1925, to the fifth defendant on the ground that the order granting interim stay had been passed and was in force. It is on the effect of this order that the decision of this appeal depends. The application for amendment made by the plaintiff was eventually allowed on the 8th March, 1926, and the interim stay was confirmed by another order on the same date. The firth defendant made an application for revision against the order granting the plaintiff leave to amend but this was dismissed by the High Court on the 28th April, 1931. Before this revision was decided, the fifth defendant had filed another petition for restitution and had attached the application dated the 13th November, 1925, along with this application. This was again returned to him for compliance with certain requirements and was not re-presented. On the 28th April, 1934, a fresh petition for restitution was filed by the fifth defendant and I have to decide first whether this is within time.

3. Having been presented after about six years of the application made in 1928 it is apparently barred, but it has been contended that the limitation for this application started on the date on which the appellant's revision was ordered by the High Court to be dismissed. Applications for restitution have been treated in this Presidency as applications for execution and would therefore be governed by Article 182 of the Indian Limitation Act. See Somasundaram v. Chokkalingam I.L.R.(1916) 40 Mad. 780. The same view has prevailed in Rangoon and Patna. Muthukaruppan Chettiar v. Annamalai I.L.R.(1933) 1 Rang. 275 and Pathak Bhaunath Singh v. Thakur Kedar Nath Singh I.L.R.(1934) 13 Pat. 411 (F.B.). It is true that the word 'appeal' occurring in Article 182 of the Limitation Act has been held to include revisions, Nagendra Nath Dey v. Suresh Chandra Dey and if the order, in pursuance of which the application for restitution was made had been the subject of a revision in the High Court, limitation would have started from the date on which the final order was passed by this Court. This is however not the case. The first decree was held to be in-executable by the appellate Court in July, 1924. This order was not appealed against and became final. The cause of action for making an application for refund thus accrued to the appellant on the date when the appeal was accepted in 1924. This was independent of the application made or order passed by the Court for amendment of the decree. If the order passed on appeal in July, 1924, were final and could not be affected by the subsequent amendment, the pendency of a revision petition by the plaintiff against the order allowing the decree to be amended could not possibly help him. The revision was in respect of a collateral matter with which we are not at present concerned. The contention that the starting point of the period of limitation should be the date of the order passed by this Court in 1931 on revision has therefore no force.

4. The question then is, if the applications made by the defendant appellant in 1925 or 1928 are of any help to him. The application made in 1928 could not be of much use as the present application was made six years later. Moreover in view of the fact that it was returned for complying with certain requirements and was not re-presented within a reasonable time even if none was fixed by the Court, it can't be held to be of any avail to the appellant now.

5. This brings me to the main question whether the application of the 13th November, 1925, should still be deemed to be pending as no final orders required by Article 182(5) of the Indian Limitation Act were passed on that application. This would depend on the effect of the order passed by the Court returning the application to the defendant-appellant in consequence of the interim stay being then in force. This was clearly a wrong order and it is therefore contended that the application should still be deemed to be undisposed of and thus held to be pending. The learned Counsel for the appellant has relied on a number of cases which lay down that in order to entitle a petitioner to treat an application as in continuation or one for revival of a previous application it should be found that the order dismissing the first application was wrong or that the first application was not properly disposed of. See Pattannayya v. Pattayya (1925) 50 M.L.J. 215 : 1926 M 453 Appavoo Nainar v. Lakshmana Reddi : AIR1933Mad745 , Ayisa Umma v. P.K. Abdulla (1923) 76 I.C. 126 : 1924 M 178 Krishnakaminee Debee v. Gireeshchandra Mandal I.L.R.(1935) 63 Cal. 57 : 1936 Cal. 239 and Madhusudhan Kowor v. Girindra Narayan Singha (1925) 87 I.C. 561 : 1925 Cal. 1185. The principle on which these cases were decided is beyond controversy; but they have been attempted to be distinguished by the learned Counsel for the respondent on the ground that the orders passed on the applications were not only illegal but the applications were physically in Court. He contends that when the applications had been returned to the appellant either improperly in 1925 or when the application returned for compliance with certain requirements in 1928 was not re-presented by him within a reasonable time it must be considered to be non est in the eye of the law and cannot be taken advantage of by the appellant after the lapse of about 9 years. The contention is undoubtedly plausible but is there any warrant in law for me to give effect to it when I find that the Court was not justified in returning the application to appellant on the ground that an interim order for stay had been passed by it two days before? The application should have been retained in Court and any legal order that the executing Court might have considered to be proper and which it was competent to give should have been passed thereon. As it is, no final order was passed on this application as required by Article 182(5) of the Indian Limitation Act. In the absence of any legal or proper order I am constrained to come to the conclusion that the application although not physically in Court must be yet treated to be pending and undisposed of. There is no duty cast on a decree-holder to make an application to revive an execution petition and the application of 1934 must be in the absence of any such duty, taken to be a kind of reminder to the Court to take up his application for execution or restitution which has not been disposed of and to decide it according to law. I am fortified in this conclusion by a decision given by my learned brother, Madhavan Nair, J., and reported in Muhammad Abu Bakkar Maracair v. Ramakrishna Chettiar (1932) 64 M.L.J. 401.

6. In the end it has been contended on behalf of the respondent that even if the application for restitution made in 1925 is considered to be pending up till now, the appellant should, none-the less, be held to have been guilty of laches and delay and should therefore be held disentitled to make the application almost 10 years after the order was passed which entitles him to get restitution. Reliance has been placed in this connection on two cases reported in Sundaramma v. Abdul Khadar (1932) 64 M.L.J. 664 : I.L.R. 56 Mad. 490 (F.B.) and Jagadisan Pillai v. Narayanan Chettiar (1935) 71 M.L.J. 180. It is hardly necessary for me to examine these cases in any detail as I find that this question was not being considered in either of them. The observations in the first case were made in summing up the effect of a decision by their Lordships of the Privy Council in Kamar-ud-din Ahmad v. Jawahir Lal in which it had been held that the first petition for execution was not finally disposed of and that the subsequent application was both in substance and in form made with the object of reviving and carrying through a pending execution which was suspended by no act or default of the decree-holder. The facts in the second case were entirely different. No petition for execution was pending or undisposed of in that case and it was found that the decree-holder could have applied for execution at any time after March, 1924, and the delay from March, 1924, to August, 1932, was:

On account of his own negligence or laches and not to any defect in the C decree or to any circumstances connected with the decree which prevented him from putting in an application for execution.

7. I find, on the other hand, that in the present case, the petition for execution filed by the appellant has not been finally disposed of so far and the interruption was not occasioned by any default or laches of the appellant. The interim stay was obtained by the respondent and it was in consequence of this stay that the application for restitution was illegally returned to the appellant.

8. Moreover, the objection as to laches or delay, based as it is on the equitable doctrine of English Courts cannot be allowed to prevail when the legal rights of a party to a proceeding come up before the Court for determination. It might have been different if the appellant were asking for an equitable relief. He is asking for a legal relief in this case and the only question is whether this is barred by the statute of limitation. There is thus no room in such cases for the application of any equitable defence such as suggested by the learned Counsel for the respondent.

9. In the circumstances the application made by the appellant in 1925 must be held not to have been disposed of and the application made in 1934 may be regarded either in the nature of a reminder or as one for continuance thereof.

10. The result is that this appeal must be accepted and the case sent back to the executing Court for disposal of the application made by the appellant in 1925.

11. In the peculiar circumstances of the case, however, I shall leave the parties to bear their own costs throughout.


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