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Anandam Minor by Guardian, the Official Trustee of Madras Vs. T.S. Muthukumaraswami Mudali - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCivil
CourtChennai
Decided On
Reported inAIR1940Mad52; (1939)2MLJ658
AppellantAnandam Minor by Guardian, the Official Trustee of Madras
RespondentT.S. Muthukumaraswami Mudali
Cases ReferredVenkatarama Reddiar v. Valli Akkal
Excerpt:
- - the words 'suit thereon' clearly show that the proceeding intended to be denoted by these words was a proceeding initiated by some one who was entitled to sue or take legal steps to recover the money due on a negotiable instrument, that is to say, by the promisee or payee, and they cannot, in my opinion, apply to proceedings initiated by the maker or promisor for relief under a special enactment like the madras agriculturists' relief act......of section 8 of the act treating the debt as one incurred after the 1st october, 1932, the suit promissory note being itself subsequent in date to the 1st of october, 1932.2. the petitioner's contention was, and is, that the suit promissory note was merely a renewal of a former promissory note of the year 1930 and that therefore the debt must be deemed to be one which was incurred prior to 1st october, 1932, and that the scaling down should be in accordance with the provisions of section 8 of the act. the point, therefore, for decision in this petition is whether the petitioner is entitled to claim to have the debt scaled down in accordance with the provisions of section 8; in other words, whether the debt which ripened into a decree in 1936, to use the language in section 8 of.....
Judgment:

Pandrang Row, J.

1. This is a petition by the Official Trustee of Madras on behalf of a minor who is the judgment-debtor in the decree in O.S. No. 65 of 1936 on the file of the District Munsif of Tiruvannamalai. That decree was obtained by the respondent on the strength of a promissory note executed on 19th February, 1933 and the decree itself is dated 2nd May, 1936. The petition is to revise the order of the District Munsif on an application under Section 19 of the Madras Agriculturists: Relief Act, IV of 1938, praying to amend the decree after scaling down the debt. It is not disputed that the petitioner is an agriculturist entitled to the benefits conferred upon agriculturist debtors by the new A ct, and the Court below has actually amended the decree by scaling down the debt in accordance with the provisions of Section 8 of the Act treating the debt as one incurred after the 1st October, 1932, the suit promissory note being itself subsequent in date to the 1st of October, 1932.

2. The petitioner's contention was, and is, that the suit promissory note was merely a renewal of a former promissory note of the year 1930 and that therefore the debt must be deemed to be one which was incurred prior to 1st October, 1932, and that the scaling down should be in accordance with the provisions of Section 8 of the Act. The point, therefore, for decision in this petition is whether the petitioner is entitled to claim to have the debt scaled down in accordance with the provisions of Section 8; in other words, whether the debt which ripened into a decree in 1936, to use the language in Section 8 of the Act, was a debt incurred before 1st of October, 1932. On the facts the petitioner succeeded in the Court below in showing that the subsequent promissory note of 1933 was really a renewal of the original promissory note of 1930, but, though the truth of the case was on the side of the petitioner, the lower Court did not give him the benefit of the truth of his case on the ground that he was really precluded from establishing the truth of the case by reason of a special rule of law applicable to promissory notes which precluded him from contending that the renewal was taken in the name of the respondent's indorser by her husband who was the payee under the original note. The arguments therefore before me have more or less been confined to this aspect of the case, namely, whether there is this estoppel standing in the way of the petitioner which prevents him from establishing that as a matter of fact the note of 1933 was a renewal of the note of 1930. On the side of the respondent reliance is placed on the Full Bench decision in Subba Narayana Vathiyar v. Ramaswami Aiyar : (1906)16MLJ508 and on the petitioner's side reliance is placed on certain observations including comments on the decision in Subba Narayana Vathiyar v. Ramaswami Aiyar : (1906)16MLJ508 in the later Full Bench decision in Venkatarama Reddiar v. Valli Akkal (1934) 68 M.L.J. 81 : I.L.R. 58 Mad. 693 . Apart from these decisions, the sections which are relied upon on behalf of the respondent, namely, Sections 120 and 121 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, make it clear that the exclusion Of estoppel is only in suits on the negotiable instrument, the material words being:

No maker of the promissory note shall in a suit thereon be permitted to deny.

3. It is not a general exclusion or estoppel applicable to all proceedings, whether based on the, negotiable instrument or not. The provisions of the English Act do not contain these qualifying words, 'in a suit thereon' which are found in the Indian enactment and it does not seem useful to examine the English decisions in order to find put what these words which are found in the Indian enactment actually mean. It seems to me that, the words being themselves simple and clear, there ought not to be any difficulty in ascertaining their meaning. The meaning of the words 'suit thereon' is fairly clear to my mind. They mean some legal proceeding or other the object of which is to enforce the claim on the basis of the negotiable instrument. The proceeding need not be actually registered in the Court as an original suit or any other kind of suit, but it is clear that it must be some legal proceeding based on a negotiable instrument the object of which proceeding is to recover the money due thereon, and these words cannot, in my judgment, be extended so as to cover applications the object of which is not to recover the amount due on the instrument, but to get relief which the Legislature has thought fit to grant to debtors of a particular description who were considered to be deserving of such relief for reasons which obviously have nothing to do with the peculiar character of negotiable instruments. The object of the new Act was to give relief to agriculturist debtors and it did not matter for the purpose of granting that relief whether the original debt was incurred under a negotiable instrument or otherwise. There is no reason to suppose that it was the intention of the new Act to make a difference in the matter of scaling down of debts in cases where the original debt was, as it were, borrowed on a negotiable instrument. It is thus clear that so far as the new Act is concerned, there is no justification for regarding a debt incurred under a promissory note in a different way from other debts, and so far as the Negotiable Instruments Act is concerned, the provisions therein do not, in my opinion, apply to applications under Section 19 of the new Act for relief of debtors. The words 'suit thereon' clearly show that the proceeding intended to be denoted by these words was a proceeding initiated by some one who was entitled to sue or take legal steps to recover the money due on a negotiable instrument, that is to say, by the promisee or payee, and they cannot, in my opinion, apply to proceedings initiated by the maker or promisor for relief under a special enactment like the Madras Agriculturists' Relief Act. I am therefore of opinion that the view of the learned District Munsif on this point is wrong and that there is no estoppel in the way of the petitioner which prevents him from establishing that, as a matter of fact, the debt in this case was incurred in 1930; that is to say, before 1st October, 1932.

4. It follows from this that the petition must be allowed to this extent, namely, that the debt should be scaled down in accordance with the provisions of Section 8 of Madras Act IV of 1938 and not under Section 9 thereof. The order of the Court below is amended accordingly and the lower Court is directed to amend its decree accordingly. The petitioner is entitled to have his costs in this Court and his costs of the application in the Court below from the respondent.


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