1. Plaintiff sues for a share in the family properties. The defence is that he was born blind and that consequently he is not entitled to any share under the Hindu law. A number of issues were raised including the one on the question whether the plaintiff was congenitally blind. After the settlement of the issues, the parties agreed to refer the disputes to certain arbitrators The agreement to refer is very general in its terms and apparently all questions of fact and of law were referred to arbitrators. Upon the reference, the arbitrators decided that the plaintiff was entitled to a life interest in a fourth share in the properties, subject to its becoming an absolute interest in case the plaintiff married.
2. On the submission of this award objections were taken by the plaintiff on the ground that it was illegal on the face of it and the court should not accept it. Both the courts below have upheld this contention and have set aside the award.
3. In Second Appeal the learned Vakils have argued the case very elaborately; we have come to the conclusion that the courts below are wrong.
4. Section 14 of the 2nd Schedule to the Civil Procedure Code sets out the grounds on which an award, may be set aside; Clause (a) refers to the arbitrators not deciding what has been referred to them and to deciding matters not within their jurisdiction; Clause (b) refers to an indefinite award; Clause (c) refers to an award whose illegality is patent upon the face of it.
5. In the present case, the complaint is that the award is illegal as it apparently proceeded on the ground that the plaintiff though not born blind is not entitled to his full rights in the family. It may be observed, in passing, that the rights of the plaintiff, were not beyond question until the recent decision of the Judicial Committee in Mussammut Gunjeshwar Kunwar v. Durga Prasad Singh (1917) 34 M.L.J. 1. The arbitrators were of opinion, whether rightly or wrongly, that the plaintiff should not have anything more than a life interest in the properties. Now, the point is whether this conclusion is so patently illegal as to come within the mischief of Clause (c) of Section 14.
6. A large number of English decisions were quoted by Mr. Somasundaram for respondents : They all assume that where an error of law appears on the face of the award the error can be remedied by courts. The various dicta to be found on this subject all refer to the decisions in Hodgkinson v. Fernic (1857) 3 C.B 189 as first enunciating this proposition. On examining that case, we find this statement of the law in the judgment of Willes, J., one of the ablest Common Law judges of his time. If we may say so with respect we share the doubt expressed by the learned judge regarding the practicability and the soundness of enforcing the ancient principle referred to by him. Moreover, the later decisions to which we shall presently refer and the Civil Procedure Code do not appear to have accepted the proposition that an erroneous view of taw appearing on the face of the award vitiates it. In King and Duveen, In re (1913) 2 K.B. 32, Channel, J. said that if on a question of law referred to the decision of an arbitrator, he has given an erroneous decision it should not be questioned by the court. In Muhammad Newaz Khan v. Alam Khan I.L.R. (1890) Cal 414 the Judicial Committee have laid down the same principle. In Gulam Khan v. Muhammad Hassan (1901) I.L.R. 29 Cal. 167 (P.C.) they say expressly that an arbitrator has jurisdiction to decide both on facts and on law and that the courts have no right to sit in judgment over his view. In Adams v. Great North of Scotland Railway Co. (1891) A.C. 41, the same view was held. See also Deenabandhu Jana v. Chintamani Jana 10 C.W.N. 476. As regard the decision in British Westinghonse Electric and . v. Underground Electric Railways Co. of London Ltd. (1912) A.C. 678 what was said by Lord Haldane in the House of Lords was that if the result of an arbitration was induced by a wrong direction as to law given by a court, the appellate court is not powerless and the court below is not entitled to shelter itself under the award. It is true that the decision of a Division Bench in Landaner v. Asser (1905) 2 K.B. 184 supports the contention of the learned vakil for the respondents. But that case stands by itself and although there are dicta of a very general character in the English Reports, in no case except in the case in Landauer v. Asser (1906) 2 K.B. 184 was an award set aside on the ground that the arbitrator has given an erroneous decision in law.
7. Coming to the Civil Procedure Code, we think that Clause (c) of Section 14 should be confined to cases like those where the arbitrator perversely and manifestly misapplies a rule of succession or applies to the parties a rule by which they are not bound. We are not supposed to have exhausted the category of the cases which may come under that clause; but we do think that where the arbitrator has applied his mind honestly and has arrived at a decision to the best of his ability, the fact that a judge might take a different view is not a ground for holding that the award is illegal on its face, We must; reverse the decrees of the court below and remand the suit to the court of First Instance for its being heard on the other objections taken to the award. Costa to abide the result.