1. This second appeal raises no doubt a question of law depending on the construction of two sections of the Madras Co-operative Societies Act (VI of 1932), but in my opinion there can be only one answer to the question raised. The appellant before us was a member of the Utukur Co-operative Society which went into liquidation on 4th February, 1933. Sometime before the liquidation, on the 1st December, 1932, the first plaintiff, the appellant herein, ceased to be a member of the society. The liquidator appointed to wind up the society levied contribution against the plaintiffs amongst others on or about the 20th January, 1940. The plaintiffs appealed to the Registrar of Co-operative Societies against the order for contribution but the Registrar rejected the appeal. There was a revised order for contribution passed against the plaintiffs on the 25th November 1940, and the plaintiffs with the leave of the Registrar instituted the suit from which the present appeal arises for a declaration that the contribution levied is not valid. In short, the contention of the plaintiffs was that under Section 25 of the Act their liability to pay contribution ceased on the lapse of two years from the date of their ceasing to be members and therefore the order for contribution passed by the liquidator under Section 47 was illegal. Both the Courts below have rejected this contention and held that Section 25 is not a bar to the claim for contribution. The first plaintiff appeals.
2. Section 25 of the Act is in these terms:
The liability of a past member or of the estate of a deceased member for the debts of a registered society as they existed on the date of his ceasing to be a member or of his decease, as the case may be, shall continue for a period of two years from such date.
This section obviously refers to the liability of past members or the estate of deceased members in respect of a debt owing to third parties by the society as such. It is quite clear that the plaintiff is not being made liable for such a debt as is contemplated by the section. An order for contribution made by a liquidator is not dependent, nor is it consequent, on a debt due by a registered society. Though there is no decision of this Court on this point, I have been referred to a decision reported in Belahri Co-operative Society v. Puttu Lal I.L.R.(1941)Luck. 658, which appears to support the view that I am taking. It was there held that the words 'the debts of a registered society as they existed at the time when he ceased to be a member ' in Section 23 of the Co-operative Societies Act, 1912 (Imperial Act) clearly refers to the debts due from the society to third persons and it is with regard to these debts that the liability of a past member has been confined in the section to a period of two years and no further. The decision of the lower Courts on this point is right. There is no other point which arises in this appeal which is dismissed with costs. (Leave to appeal is refused.)