1. The suit is to recover a sum of Rs. 6,583-13-6 as balance due under the document A, alleged to have been executed by the defendant's father to plaintiff's father on the 29th September 1879, for Rs. 7,000 repayable on 21st July 1880 with interest at 6 annas per cent, per mensem. The Judge has dismissed the suit, finding (1) that the genuineness of A is not proved; and (2) that the claim is barred by the law of limitation.
2. A number of letters were produced before the Judge as containing acknowledgments of the debt, and therefore saving the suit from the time-bar. The Judge rejected these letters as inadmissible by reason of their not bearing a one-anna stamp under Article 1 of schedule I of the Stamp Act. It is contended for appellant that, in thus holding, the Judge was in error--a contention that must be allowed to be good see Bishambar Nath v. Nand Kishore I.L.R. 15 All. 56 Fatechand Harchand v. Kisan I.L.R. 18 Bom. 614. It is however, also found by the Judge that, even if admitted, the letters would not help the plaintiff, as 'there is no evidence worthy of the name' that the defendant's father authorized the writing of the letters. To be of use for saving from the bar of limitation, under Section 191 of the Act (XV of 1877) the acknowledgment must be signed 'either personally or by an agent duly authorized on this behalf.' It is admitted that none of the letters produced are signed by defendant's father, and we agree with the Judge that the evidence is altogether insufficient to support a finding that those who signed the letters were in fact authorized to do so.
3. Stress is laid on behalf of appellant on Exhibits B to H, in which the debt in question is acknowledged by the Governor's Agent on the death of defendant's father. When the estate was taken charge of by the Court of Wards, and, as appears from Exhibits C and G, a sum of Rs. 2,135 was actually paid to the Jeypore Estate ' on account of debts due by Srinivasa Bakshi Patro (plaintiff) from Rs. 8,000,' which the Bisamkatak Estate (i.e., defendant's estate) owes to him (plaintiff).'
4. But neither can this payment nor the acknowledgments contained in these letters be of use to plaintiff under Section 19 or Section 202 of the Limitation Act as they were not made till after the claim had become barred. It remains to consider whether they are sufficient to revive the plaintiff's claim (supposing it ever to have existed) under Section 25 of the Contract Act (Clause 3), which makes enforceable a 'promise made in writing and signed by the person to be charged therewith, or by his agent generally or specially authorized in that behalf, to pay wholly or in part a debt of which the creditor might have enforced payment but for the law for the limitation of suits.' The question here is, can the Governor's Agent be held to have been the agent of the defendant ' generally or specially authorized ' to make promises to pay barred debts? Section 17 of Regulation V of 1804, no doubt, authorizes Collectors to liquidate debts due to private creditors from the estates of disqualified proprietors; but the same section contains a proviso 'that the permission of the Court of Wards in writing shall have been had and obtained in every instance previously to the payment of any private debt.' In the present case the Court of Wards declined to admit the debt and told plaintiff to establish his claim by suit (see Exhibit I). It is clear, therefore, that the Governor's Agent, the officer in the Vizagapatam Agency, corresponding to Collector in the regulation districts, had not authority to bind the minor defendant by promise under Clause 3 of Section 25 of the Contract Act to pay the plaint debt.
5. The above findings make it unnecessary to consider whether A is genuine or not. Had it been necessary, we should agree with the Judge in holding that the evidence is altogether insufficient to justify a finding in favour of the plaintiff.
6. The appeal, therefore, fails and is dismissed with costs.
Section 19: If, before the expiration of the period prescribed for a suit or application in
respect of any property or right, an acknowledgment of liability
Effect of acknowledge- in respect of such property or right has been made in writing
ment in writing. signed by the party against whom such propety or rightl is
claimed, or by some person through whom he derives titile or
liability, a new period of limitation, according to the nature of the orginal libality, shall
be computed from the time when the acknowledgment was so signed.
When the writing containing the acknowledgment is undated, oral evidence may be given of
the time when it was signed; but oral evidence of its contents shall not be received.
Explanation 1.--For the purposes of this section an acknowledgment may be sufficient,
though it smits to specify the exact nature of the property or right, or avers that the
time for payment, delivery, perfonmance or enjoyment has not yet come, or is accompained by
a refusal to pay, deliver, persorm, or permit to enjoy, or is coupled with a claim to a set-
off, or is addressed to a person other than the person entitled to the property or right.
Explanation 2.--In this section 'signed' means signed either personally or by an agent
duly authorised in this behalf.
Section 20: When interest on a debt or legacy is, before the expiration of the prescribed
period, paid as such by the person liable to pay the debt or
Effect to payemnt of in- legacy, or by his agent duly authorised in tis behalf, or when
terest as such. part of the principal of a debt is, before the expiration of the
prescribed period, paid by the debtor or by his agent duly authorized in this behalf, a new
period of limitation, according to the nature of the original
Effect of part payemnt liability, shall be computed from the time when the payment was
Provided that, in the case of part payment of the principal of a debt, the fact of the
payment appears in the hand-writhing of the person making the same.
Where mortgaged land is in the possession of the mortgagee,
Effect of receipt of pro- the receipt of the produce of such land shall be deemed to be a
duce of mortgaged land. payment for the purpose of this section.