(1) This appeal instituted by M. A. and Sons (appellants) from the order and decree of the learned Second Assistant Judge, City Civil Court, Madras, dismissing O. P. No. 478 of 1961, involves certain questions of interest with regard to a reference to arbitration, as provided for by the by-laws of the Madras Oil and Seeds Exchange (Pte.) Ltd (first respondent). The essential facts and dates are as follows:
(2) There were certain contracts, which were of the character of forward contracts, as between the appellants and the second respondent firm (Kilachand and Devchand and Co. Pte. Ltd.) for supplies of groundnut oil on differing dates. It is not in dispute that, owing to the alleged bursting of the boiler apparatus, the appellants were unable to deliver, and reported the inability; in brief, the contracts were broken. On the principle of S. 60 of the Indian Sales of Goods Act, the second respondent choose to treat the contract as subsisting, and waited till the date of delivery. As there was no delivery, there was a claim in damages arising out of the contracts, Ex. A. 1 to A. 4. While upon this topic, it is of importance to note a term of the contract, expressed in the following form:
"The contract entered into subject to the by-laws in force from time to time of Madras Oil and Seeds Exchange Ltd., of which the parties admit that they have knowledge and notice. In the event of any dispute of or differences of opinion in respect of any point under this contract, the same shall be settled by arbitration by and under the rules of the Madras Oil and Seeds Exchange Ltd., and the decision of the Madras Oil and Seeds Exchange Ltd., shall be final and binding on both the parties. This clause shall be considered as an arbitration agreement within the meaning of the Indian Arbitration Act 1940................"
We may now proceed to scrutinise the further events. On 18-9-1956, there was a claim statement filed by the second respondent before the Madras Oil and Seeds Exchange (Pte) Ltd., first respondent, claiming damages against the appellants to the tune of Rs. 24,200. The appellants filed a written statement on 30-10-1956, the second respondent filed a reply statement on 29-11-1956, and the arbitration proceedings were heard on the 18th and 19th April 1957. Ultimately, on 13-7-1957 the committee or Board of Arbitrators gave an award against the appellants for damages, computed to Rs. 8000.
(3) In the meantime, on 15-10-1956, that is, after the claim was filed by the second respondent, there was an amendment of the by-laws of the first respondent firm, and bylaw 202 came into existence. Since the interpretation of this by-law is a cardinal ground of controversy, we shall set forth by-law 202, the essential part of it, as follows:
"Wherever an appeal is preferred, the Board shall appoint an appellate Tribunal for deciding such appeal consisting of the president or the Vice President and four other directors none of whom was member of the Arbitration Tribunal in that particular matter which had given the award against which such appeal is preferred....... The minimum number of members of the appellate Tribunal who shall form a quorum and who shall be deemed to be duly appointed appellate Tribunal for the matter and who shall hear and decide the appeal shall be three.
The decision of the appellate Tribunal shall be final and binding on the parties concerned".
Two characteristics of this unfortunately framed provision are immediately apparent. The first is that the provision does not, by the ipsissima verba thereof, provide that either party to the dispute referred to arbitration, in the first instance, may institute an appeal. In other words, the right of the party to appeal, as distinguished from the jurisdiction of the Appellate Tribunal is not expressly sated. The second is an equally obvious defect, that no limitation is provided for. We shall leave that matter there for the present and observe the further events of the dispute.
(4) On 13-8-1957, the second respondent firm filed an appeal under this by-law 202, though objection was taken thereto by the appellant firm. The second respondent firm also instituted S. R. 29768 of 1957 in the City Civil Court, Madras, to have the original award filed into court. On 8-11-1957, the parties filed a consent memorandum before the appellate tribunal, for the Madras Oil and Seeds Exchange Pte Ltd., to state a special case for the opinion of the City Civil Court, Madras under S. 13(b) of the Arbitration Act. The three points of law referred were:
1. Whether the appellate Tribunal have jurisdiction, since the instant by-law was passed after the dates of the contracts?
2. Whether the rule providing for an appellate Tribunal to function was ultra vires, since the award given by the Arbitrators even in the first instance was final and binding under the Indian Arbitration Act 10 of 1940?
3. Whether the appeal could be prosecuted, when the appellants had filed a petition in the City Civil Court Madras to have the initial award filed into court?
O. P. 182 of 1958 was proceeding in the City Civil Court, Madras, stating a case for opinion. On 11-4-1959 the court furnished its opinion, on all the three points, against the appellants.
(5) The second respondent firm then withdrew the proceeding in the City Civil Court, Madras, to have the initial award filed into court, and the appellants instituted C. R. P. 1263 of 1959 in this court. The learned Judge who disposed of the civil revision petition (Venkatadri J.) held that the opinion of the City Civil Court, upon the three points of reference, was correct, he dismissed the civil revision.
On 19-4-1961 the Appellate Tribunal made an award in favour of the second respondent awarding total damages of Rs. 15000 and costs Rs.
500. There was a further proceeding by the Madras Oil and Seeds Exchange Pte. Ltd., filing this award. The appellants filed O. P. No. 478 of 1961 to set aside the award under Ss. 30 and 38 of the Arbitration Act 10 of 1940. The court dismissed this petition and passed a decree in accordance with the appellate award. That is the history of this civil miscellaneous appeal.
(6) The grounds of law, or mixed questions of law and fact, that have been pressed before us by learned counsel for the appellants (Sri G.N. Chari) may be tersely stated as follows. Firstly, learned counsel argues that there is no right of appeal conferred under by-law 202, which the second respondent firm could have availed of. Appeal is creature of rule or statute, and is neither a principle of natural justice, not a remedy available at common law. A statute or rule ought to be interpreted, upon the manifest purport and language employed; where no provision for appeal expressly appears, it ought not to be construed as a mere inference, or as a matter of implication. The second ground is that even assuming that a right of appeal is provided for, the right is not available to the second respondent firm, since the proceeding or lis was instituted earlier in point of time to the introduction of this by-law. As will be clear form the dates that we have furnished, the claim statement in arbitration case No. 8 of 1956 was filed on 18-9-1956, the amendment of by-law 202 was only on 15-10-1956 and it could confer no right of appeal.
The third ground is an independent one that the appeal itself is ultra vires, as it is opposed to provisions of the Indian Arbitration Act 10 of 1940. The other ground which appears in the case stated under S. 13(b) of the Act, namely, whether the second respondent firm had a right to prosecute the appeal form the award, since they had filed a petition in the City Civil Court, Madras (S. R. 9768 of 1957) to have the initial award filed into court, cannot be seriously pressed; for, in any event, this proceeding was withdrawn on a subsequent date. There is a ground in favour of the second respondent firm, whether the judgement of the learned Judge (Venkatadri J.) in C. R. P. 1263 of 1959 is res judicata, and thereby prevents the appellants from disputing the final award. But the learned counsel for the second respondent conceded, with fairness, that this argument could not be seriously pressed. We shall now proceed to determine the grounds of law urged in this case by the learned counsel for the appellants.
(7) There can be no doubt whatever that appeal is a creature of statute, and is a remedy that does not merely or automatically flow in favour of a party upon any principle of natural justice, or as part of the incidents of common law. The authorities on this point are well known, and it is sufficient to refer to the dicta of the learned Chief Justice in Ramanatha Chetti v. Lakashaman Chetti,
(FB). Nor can it be doubted that, being a right dependant upon statute or rule, it must be provided for, either by express language or by necessary implication. On this respect, the following passage from Maxwell on Interpretation of Statutes, 11th Edn. Page 78 is significant.
"One of these presumptions is that the legislature does not intend to make any substantial alteration the law beyond what is explicitly declares, either in express terms or by clear implication, or, in other words, beyond the immediate scope and object of the statute."
Again, learned counsel cities the passage in Craies on Statute Law, 6th Edn., page 122, quoting the dicutm of Lord Westbury. This was in Attorney-General v. Sillem, (1864) 10 HLC 704 and the House of Lords held that the court of Exchequer had no right of appeal, there being no express mention in the Act of any such right. Lord Westbury observed that "The creation of a new right of appeal is plainly an act which requires (distinct) legislative authority."
(8) But, obviously, in applying these principles to the interpretation of by-law 202, we must make every allowance for imperfect draftmanship. Where the language used is unmeaning, unless a right of appeal is presumed to exist in favour of the concerned parties by necessary implication, the court must not hesitate to draw such an inference; for, otherwise, no interpretation of the by-law could prevail, which could make any sense at all. It is not disputed before us that an intendment may be express, or necessarily implied. Such words in the by-law 202 as "Whenever an appeal is preferred" and "the award against, which such appeal is preferred" render impossible any interpretation other than that the parties to the initial award, provided than that the parties to the initial award, provided for by the earlier by-laws 193 and the following have a right of appeal to the appellate Tribunal. No doubt, there is no limitation provided. But there is a limitation under the Arbitration Act for making the award a decree of court, and, indisputably, the appeal will have to be preferred and determined before that date. We are, therefore, of the view that the right of appeal exists.
(9) There is another rule of construction upon which the same interpretation could be sustained. This is expressed in Halsbury's Laws of England, 3rd Edn. Vol. 36, p. 389 in the following form. After observing that, if the words of a statute are clear and unambiguous, they themselves indicate what should have been the intention of the legislature and that there was not need to look elsewhere; this authority states:
"If it is possible, the words of statute must be construed so as to give a sensible meaning to them.. A statute must, if possible, be construed in the sense which makes it operative, and nothing short of the impossibility so as to construe it should allow a court to declare a statute unworkable."
This dictum necessarily implies that either by-law 202 should be taken out of the rule-book as unworkable and unmeaning, or we should hold that it provides a right of appeal to parties situated like the appellants and the second respondent
(10) The next ground presents a little more difficulty. In Garikapati Veeraya v. Subbiah Choudhry, (S) the Supreme Court laid down that the right of appeal was a vested right and accrues to the litigant as on and form the date the lis commences, that cause would be governed by the rights then prevailing, and a subsequent legislation providing for a right of appeal could not clothe either party to the earlier lis with that right. This proposition is not seriously in dispute. That would certainly be the ordinary rule of law, and the Supreme Court observed in the cited case that,
"such a right (of appeal) is to be governed by the law prevailing at the date of the institution of the suit of proceeding, and not by the law that prevails at the date of its decision or at the date of the filing of the appeal"
But, there are two answers to this objection. Firstly, we are not here dealing with a piece of litigation per se and a right of appeal provided by any enactment. We are dealing with a private dispute, and the obligation to refer the dispute to arbitration results from the contract between the parties, and not because of any law. Secondly, and more importantly the contract itself provides that if, at any time after the contract has come into existence and is in dispute, the by-laws of the Madras Oil and Seeds Exchange Pte. Ltd., undergo modifications or alterations, and the parties will abide by those manifest from the language of the contract.
"This contract is entered into subject to the by-laws in force form time to time of the Madras Oil and Seeds Exchange Ltd., of which the parities admit that hey have knowledge and notice."
Hence, it cannot be said that the introduction of a right of appeal in the by-laws after the claim was submitted to arbitration takes away this remedy from either party. Upon the effect of a contract of this kind, Heeralal Agarwalla and Co. v. Joakim Nahapiet and Co. Ltd., AIR 1927 Cal 647 is of particular significance. That was a case in which according to the contract between the parties, a dispute was refereed firstly to Arbitrators, then to an umpire, and then to a committee of appeal form him. The learned Judge observed, on this aspect:
"In other words, the contract contains as it were two submissions or a submission within a submission".
The learned Judges held that there was nothing to prevent the parties from agreeing to a submission containing in it a further submission to arbitration. Equally, Russel on Arbitration, 17th Edn., page 302 contains a passage to the effect that 'the agreement may provide for an appeal.' An award made pursuant to a proper arbitration agreement is final, subject, of course, to the consequences of any such term of the contract. Here, the agreement provided that the parties would abide by any modification of alteration in the by-laws as governing the contract when it subsisted or was in issue between the parties. We must, therefore, hold that the second respondent had a right of appeal.
(11) The third point may be quite briefly disposed of. Actually it largely depends upon the interpretation to be placed upon the words in condition No. 7 of the First Schedule to the Arbitration Act, that "the award shall be final and binding on the parties and persons claiming under them respectively". Naturally, these words have to be construed as subject tot any right of appeal, which might be provided for either by the contract itself, or by any by-law governing the parties; AIR 1927 Cal 647 is clear authority for this view. No doubt, except upon grounds specified in S. 30 of the Act, an award is not liable to be set aside, and is final between the parties. But, what is the award that is final between the parties, when the procedure governing the parties itself makes provision for an initial award on arbitration, and an appeal which may be instituted by either party aggrieved? An "award" is defined in S. 2(b) of the Act as an "arbitration award".
As observed by the Supreme Court in (S) the legal pursuit of successive remedies will make them all proceedings 'connected by an intrinsic unity' and 'to be regarded as one legal proceeding". In that sense, it is the award by the appellate Tribunal, if an appeal is preferred which becomes the final award that governs the parties. The passage form Russell on Arbitration that we set forth earlier, as well as the decision of the Calcutta High Court in AIR 1927 Cal 647 make it clear that it is perfectly legal to provide for different stages of arbitration, such as, from a single Arbitrator to a committee of appeal, etc. It is the award which finally emerges from this procedure, which is conclusive as between the parties, and not liable to be set aside, except as provided for in S. 30 of the Arbitration Act 10 of 1940. For these reasons, we must hold that the provision for appeal is not ultra vires the law of Arbitration enacted in Act 10 of 1940. On this ground also the appellants will have to fail.
(12) The civil miscellaneous appeal, in result, fails and is dismissed with costs.